London, being a popular travel destination for GCC residents, means many things to many people. For some, its a gleaming city of the future all polished skyscrapers and infinite possibilities and for others it’s a capital of culture, of history and of undisputed timeless glamour with Mayfair as its epicentre.
Now as a sucker for the traditional, Mayfair to me, embodies everything that was good and will always be good about London and I’m a Londoner. It’s a place where time stops, where as you weave in and out of Tiffany & Co. and Burberry on fashionable Bond Street, you can almost smell the smoke of yesteryear, practically visualize the Victorian splendour of ladies in their long dress weave in and out of the Burlington Arcade. In short, it’s my favourite area in the entire world.
The five-star Connaught Hotel that can be found nestled on a quiet corner in the very beating heart of Mayfair Village is a luxury sanctuary amidst the hustle and bustle of the city and even from the accent you know you’re in for a truly unforgettable stay. With a history that dates back to 1815 The Connaught is a hotel where heritage meets the ultimate in modernity. From being personally greeted upon arrival by the doorman to checking-in at quite possibly the quaintest hotel reception desk there ever was, everything about the experience at The Connaught is designed with its international discerning clientele in mind.
What I particularly love about The Connaught and this is something that the British do only too well, is the evolution of the design of this hotel, quite possibly one of the most beautiful I have ever had the pleasure of staying in within my own city. The quintessential English charm reigns supreme and the elegance of yesteryear remains relatively unchanged; stepping into The Connaught is like stepping back in time to an era of sequins and feathers in your hair. It’s a place that manages to perfectly combine the reassurance of traditional English craftmanship with the contemporary twist that the modern traveller has come to know and demand.
The renowned central staircase rising majestically from the lobby upwards to the peak of the hotel was in fact built by Maple & Co. and remains one of the most amazing features of this notable hotel. In fact, Ralph Lauren himself is said to have been so enamoured with this staircase on a previous visit to The Connaught that he had a replica of it installed in his flagship store on Madison Avenue in New York. Now that’s a testament to design.In 2007, the hotel closed its doors for a million dollar restoration programme spearheaded by world-renowned designer Guy Oliver and during this time the old staircase was redecorated alongside many rooms and public areas.
The interiors of this beautiful hotel are in fact my favourite part. A melting pot of the traditional and the contemporary, it’s sensitivity to the original design remains paramount. Original art takes pride of place on the hotel walls and throughout the guests rooms including two of Damien Hirst’s butterfly pieces. In fact, The Connaught’s expertly curated collection is some 3,000 pieces strong. The new moon garden is a serene space, perfect for those all important travel photos. The Silence water feature by Tadao Ando also reinforces the calmness that both this hotel and this quaint area of Mayfair represent.
Every room and suite in this property pays homage to the spectacular interior design in the public spaces. Each and every private space embodies the elegance of both yesteryear and the 21st century. Bespoke modern furniture proudly sits alongside antiques and everything feels exactly as it should be.
Being a traveller focused on the utmost luxury, The Connaught offers not only six types of beautifully appointed suites but also five signature suites, one of which I had the pleasure in staying in for the duration of my stay.
As a writer you often daydream about your perfect hotel room. A sanctuary of peace and quiet with more books than you could ever hope to read, an inspiring desk space and enough natural light to promote a positive working environment; in short, a place you could shut yourself away in for weeks upon end and never feel the need to leave.
I found this place at The Connaught. The new Library Suite, one of the hotel’s signature suites is everything I could ever have dreamed of in a hotel room. This luxurious retreat is a book-lovers holy grail. Enormous at 1334 sq.ft, this split-level suite consists of a master bedroom, second bedroom, two bathrooms and the most beautiful living spacing you will ever see.
Complete with secret doors separating the space, this comfortable suite was designed by the architect Michael Blair and from the polished white plaster to the gleaming marble steps, this contemporary space is flooded with natural light from the feature skylight ceiling. Relax by the warming glow of the coal-effect gas fireplace as you read one of the many books that adorn the shelves of the library-style sitting room whilst your own private butler is on hand to cater to your every whim. It’s rare for me to be back home in London and not want to venture outside once but for 24 hours that is exactly what happened, so content was I in the impossibly quiet Library Suite.
Another signature suite at The Connaught that I would like to mention is the even bigger Terrace Suite which to put it simply, redefines hotel suites the world over. This suite has the largest outdoor terrace in Mayfair and is beautifully landscaped by two-time Chelsea Flower Show gold medallist Tom Stuart-Smith. The terrace Suite even has private elevator access for those days when you just want to be incognito, a private bar and a spacious living area. While away an afternoon wrapped up in a cashmere blanket underneath the twinkle of London’s unrivalled skyline cradling your complimentary welcome bottle o Krug champagne all from the peacefulness of terrace in one of the best suites in the city.
If you can bear to tear yourself away from the relaxation of you room or suite, The Connaught offers some of the very best dining in London. From the Michelin-starred finery of Hélène Darroze’s at The Connaught, one of Mayfair’s most intimate dining experiences to the sweeping views of Mount Street from brasserie-style Espelette known for its delicious all-day dining and traditional English afternoon tea, every time you dine at The Connaught expect utter nourishment for yoursoul.
After dinner drinks ( also a London tradition ) can be taken in one of two bars, each one just as stylish as the other. Swarms of well-healed fashionistas share martinis with hedge fund managers in the Connaught Bar with its distinct 1920s vibe; the walls shimmering in platinum silver leaf overlaid with pastel colours creating quite the ambiance. In contrast, the masculine Coburg Bar is all polished black, plush velvet and refined chatter. An intimate, relaxed and inviting place that lends itself perfectly to those chilly London winter nights.
The Connaught is one of those few hotels that you’ll want to shout about to everyone that will listen but at the same time keep entirely to yourself as if you’ve stumbled across one of the world’s great secrets. In short, you have.
It’s a hotel steeped in history yet reformed in the contemporary, unashamed of its heritage and with deep roots in it hospitality. A stay here will be quite unlike anywhere you will have stayed before and quite possibly, anywhere you will ever stay again.
For reservations visit http://www.the-connaught.co.uk/