On arrival at The Lanesborough, guests are presented with personalised business cards and notepaper bearing their own name and the hotel’s address. This is a pretty good indication of what is to come: a proper five-star hotel.
Overlooking Hyde Park Corner and nestled between Apsley House (of the famous ‘Number One, London’ address) and Buckingham Palace, The Lanesborough is surely London’s most desirable location. Since 1991, the hotel has provided discreet and professional service to a sleek and glossy international cross-section of guests. Its elegant and historic building – occupying a site originally developed as a country retreat for James Lane, 2nd Viscount Lanesborough (1650-1724) – was completed in 1828 by the famed Greek Revival architect William Wilkins, who also designed the National Gallery in Trafalgar Square.
Today, The Lanesborough retains the elegance of a nineteenth-century private residence but combines this with the contemporary luxury that is expected of a modern hotel. Its 95 guest rooms include 43-square-metre suites luxuriously decorated in a traditional style, complete with wooden panels, fireplaces, decanters and televisions emerging from the furnishings. In addition to complimentary in-room amenities both usual (fresh fruit, WiFi) and unusual (freshly cut flowers, personal laptop), The Lanesborough provides all their guests with a 24-hour butler service – my own butler, Jesus, was on-hand to press my clothes on arrival and wake me with a cup of tea. Very civilised.
Elsewhere in the hotel, the Library Bar has been rated as the ‘Best Hotel Bar in the World’, while the oversized sofas and outdoor heating of the Garden Room – not to mention its walk-in humidor, unique among London hotels – make this the city’s most glamorous smoking room. Afternoon tea at The Lanesborough is likewise pretty special, offering guests the prospect of being served by London’s first (and only) Tea Sommelier.
Since its launch in 2009, reports on Apsleys, the hotel’s restaurant, have been mixed. It is the first restaurant outside Italy created by the internationally renowned chef Heinz Beck, holder of three Michelin stars at La Pergola in Rome. Beck has described his cooking as a ‘light cuisine of Mediterranean flavours’, and on my visit it certainly did not disappoint. In fact, the food was phenomenal. His signature dishes included fish ‘crudo’ consisting of nine separate plates of fish, such as the tastiest fatty tuna served with cubes of pomelo, carbonara fagottelli ravioli which exploded with flavor on the tongue, langoustine carpaccio served with Sturia Prestige caviar and for pudding, ‘milk’– a selection of eight chocolate desserts – was exquisite, if completely excessive.
So I shall definitely be returning to The Lanesborough, both for dinner and an overnight stay. The Royal Suite is also soon to be reopened after major renovations, so I’m sure there’s plenty more yet to be seen.