Claridge’s in London pampers and seduces its guests with a luxurious offer that they simply can’t refuse.gets the A-list treatment as she checks into the iconic Mayfair hotel
SITUATED IN THE posh Mayfair area, in the heart of London’s West End, Claridge’s is a luxury five-star hotel with an elite clientele that includes stars, socialites, aristocracy and royalty. The art deco jewel is the epitome of grand English elegance, creating a stunning combination of opulent decor and impeccably proper service. Indeed, Claridge’s – with its 203 individually furnished rooms – is as popular now as it was in the 1920s, whether for an indulgent overnight stay and drinks at one of the bars, or people watching over afternoon tea in The Foyer.
Bellboys in top hats await us as we step inside the palatial hotel, a visual feast of glamorous chandeliers, mirrors and black-and-white portraits of former show-business guests such as Audrey Hepburn, Alfred Hitchcock, Cary Grant, Katharine Hepburn and Yul Brynner. These grace the walls of the renovated dining place, The Reading Room, and the extravagant afternoon tea spot, The Foyer, tastefully marrying the venue’s association with history and celebrity.
To this day, Claridge’s remains a favourite among the likes of Jude Law, Mick Jagger, Naomi Campbell and Kate Moss (who famously celebrated her 30th birthday in one of the penthouses), as well as Dutch supermodel Lara Stone, who married Little Britain comedian David Walliams at Claridge’s in 2010.
With a history that stretches back to 1854 and a glamorous reputation for serving crowned heads, statesmen and stars, you’d be forgiven for thinking that Claridges would intimidate. But the atmosphere is welcoming, with a modern outlook that counterbalances the heritage.
One of my favourite features is the porter-operated lift that’s kitted out with a sofa (the ideal relief after a long night in high heels), while another perk that makes my pampered stay at Claridge’s so unforgettable is the round-the-clock butler service.
Our Linley Suite boasts an entrance hall leading to a large living room, which is connected with a spacious bedroom and marble bathroom, all stunningly appointed with stylish designer decor by David Linley. I’m told that American fashion icon Diane von Furstenberg has also lent her signature style to a series of 20 guestrooms and suites; these feature a dressing table, a travelling trunk, a desk and a cocktail bar, all inspired by the designer’s travels.
Our butler prepares espressos for us while we scope out the rooms, and as soon as we gather back in the sitting area to sip our freshly brewed espressos, he offers to unpack our luggage. We politely decline and ask instead if he could try his luck in getting us a table at Gordon Ramsay’s restaurant in an hour. He says he’ll do his best and disappears, only to ring us five minutes later to tell us that our table has been booked.
We wonder if we should grab a quick pre-dinner cocktail at the luscious Fumoir, the hotel’s sleek smoking bar, but we run out of time and head for the restaurant.
A visit to Claridge’s wouldn’t be complete without dining in Gordon Ramsay at Claridge’s, the hotel’s most acclaimed restaurant. The art deco dining room is decorated in warm shades of burgundy and champagne, and guests can choose from an à la carte selection and the six-course Menu Prestige, which delights our palates with muntjac venison, Loch Duart salmon and salt-baked Herdwick lamb Niçoise. Connoisseurs will undoubtedly enjoy the wine list, and the waiters who keep moving everything along smoothly – from amuse-bouche to dessert – make the whole dining experience a treat.
We debate whether to explore London’s nightlife, but save that for another time and make our way back to the hotel suite for some shut-eye. The next morning we head downstairs for coffee and croissants at The Foyer, whose speciality is the luxurious, award winning English afternoon tea of pastries, finger sandwiches, crusty scones and rich clotted cream, all to the accompaniment of gentle live music. We’re seated near the entrance, the perfect spot to people-watch and observe who goes up and down the staircase, where the famous Christmas tree is set up every winter (in previous years it was designed by John Galliano, but last month Lanvin’s Alber Elbaz lent a hand).
The afternoon calls for some shopping and a stroll to Bond Street, just a five-minute walk from the hotel. Savile Row, with its sought-after tailors, is also just a stone’s throw away.
If you have time on your hands, check out the Olympus Suite on the hotel’s sixth floor. It offers the finest facilities for health, beauty, relaxation and fitness. There you can be waxed and plucked, or encouraged by your personal trainer, while taking in a fantastic view of London.
A stay at Claridge’s is like stepping into long-lost days of elegant, lavish travel. The service is flawless and the hotel is like a national treasure, seducing and disarming even the most discerning traveller.
The 1,066 sq ft Linley Suites come with butler service and a bottle of Laurent-Perrier champagne. A night in a suite costs £3,150 (two-bedroom £4,200).
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