During a recent trip I had the opportunity to tour three of the latest hotels to open in London. And what I found was that, much like the city’s fashion scene where anything from irreverent punk to glamorous couture to traditional tweed has a following, London is also a place to experience diversity in hotels.
We first visited The Wellesley, a boutique hotel built in a former Underground Tube station near Hyde Park. However, its style is completely opposite from its previous life, with the only clue being the signature red tiled arches at the entrance in front of which guests can park their über luxury cars — and passersby like me can imagine racing them around London!
Now it’s a gorgeous jewel box where everything sparkles. They say good things come in small packages, and here that is true. Although the spaces are not large, soft upholstery, reflective finishes and very high-quality details make everything feel perfect. Polished sophistication with Art Deco influences meets the glamour of the silver screen. And its cigar lounge with an outdoor terrace is an inventive solution.
The London Edition has an altogether different feel, adding a “cheeky” twist to its historical architectural structure. Under the lobby’s ornately detailed canopy — including a plaster frieze of a female painted with red “lipstick” — a contemporary bar mixes with clubby-feeling lounge chairs, long work station tables and a large silver “egg” sculpture by Ingo Maurer that dangles from a wire fixed to the ceiling. Artwork covering every bit of its restaurant walls helps create its buzzy feel. The public areas steal the show here, as while the guestrooms are large by London standards, their Ikea-influenced furnishings make them feel more basic.
The most unexpected delight was the Rosewood London. Its entrance is tucked away into its own private courtyard, and everything here is of the highest quality possible. Its eclectic elegance blends the English heritage of a country estate — the doormen even wear tweed equestrian hunting gear — with a refined Asian style perhaps drawn from historic associations with the British Empire and, in the bedrooms especially, a touch of New York smartness in the interiors designed by Tony Chi. The copper and rose gold tones of the metals in its public areas create a warm ambience; I could see the use of this finish growing in popularity for hotel design.
And its fantastic bar has been created from a former bank; in fact, the lighting at the bar counter is reminiscent of old-fashioned bank teller desks. With its cozy fireplace, comfortable chairs and library of books, it feels like an ideal place to hibernate from London’s chilly wet weather.