When it opened in 1963, the London Hilton on Park Lane was the second Hilton hotel to have been built outside of the US. Standing 101-metres tall, it still casts an imposing shadow over Hyde Park; but almost 50 years on, and with the recent slew of London hotel openings, does the Hilton brand stand a chance of keeping up with the likes of super-luxury hotels such as The Corinthia and the newly renovated Savoy and Four Seasons? I went to take a look.
Spaced over 28 floors, the London Hilton on Park Lane has 453 rooms, including 56 suites on 10 floors dedicated to executive rooms and suites for those needing a little bit of extra privacy. Cleverly designed, its construction ensures that all bedrooms and suites benefit from spectacular views over London. My suite on the 26th floor (the Penthouse floor) had 270-degree views – truly some of the best I’ve ever encountered in London. It’s not often that one wakes in a hotel and opens the electric blinds to reveal views into the gardens of Buckingham Palace!
Both the Penthouse Suite and the Presidential floor above have recently been renovated, and quite a renovation it’s been. Supremely luxurious, my suite consisted of a grand sitting room with views into Hyde Park, a dining/meeting room seating eight, a kitchen, master bedroom, an office and a beautifully renovated bathroom containing a steam shower and Jacuzzi. The state-of-the-art technology included five flat screen televisions, including one fitted into the mirror in the bathroom (so much more sensible than the usual location at the end of the bath), Bose sound systems and iPod docs in each room. There was also a second, connectable bedroom as an optional enlargement to the suite. I found the decor chic but simple – with views like this, that’s all you really need. Indeed, the views, light and space were so good that I stayed on to work for a couple of hours the following morning.
Guests can also choose from a number of restaurants including the legendary French-Polynesian Trader Vic’s, the Michelin-starred Galvin at Windows on the top floor for fine dining and the Podium, a resturant open all-day. The hotel’s bars include Whisky Mist, popular with the London celebrity scene, and POP, offering champagne cocktails until the early hours. On top of this, the hotel has extensive conference and banqueting facilities, allowing it to host up to 1,200 guests in the Grand Ballroom as well as more intimate meetings for up to 50 guests in one of eight dedicated rooms.
My suite was outstanding, and my stay at the London Hilton on Park Lane far exceeded expectations. It’s little wonder that the hotel has been chosen as the International Olympic Committee’s official headquarters for the London 2012 Olympic Games.