After a four-year overhaul, Café Royal made its long-awaited return to the capital in 2012. True to its original and glamorous form, Café Royal pays tribute to its rich heritage with the introduction of a host of contemporary guestrooms and luxurious modern suites.
Café Royal is the second member of The Set, a new collection of luxury hotels created for sophisticated design-literate travellers of the twenty first century. My husband and I went to see what all the fuss was about.
At the heart of the hotel lies the spectacular Pompidou Suite, the building’s largest event space with ample room for 200 standing. Grade II-listed, every inch is beautifully restored with original details intact, including mirrored panels with gilded frames and an elaborately painted ceiling. Even better, grand double doors lead onto a pillared outdoor terrace with views all the way down the sweep of Regent Street. This is sure to become one of London’s most in-demand event spaces.
The guestrooms are equally alluring. Divided between Portland (with walls of faux Portland stone) and Mansard (rooms in the eaves with walls of smooth oak), each one is supremely comfortable and thoughtfully equipped, certain to appeal to those with an eye for design. My husband was a fan of the room’s clean lines and uncluttered surfaces (very rare at home), while I was in awe of the huge marble bath. Cut from a solid block of marble, it felt immensely smooth and soothing next to the skin – every exhausted working mother’s dream.
For assistance, guests simply press the ‘BUTLER’ button on their telephone keypad. We found the staff throughout the hotel to be warm and helpful.
For real wow factor, book one of the hotel’s historic suites – the stunning Dome Suite, for example, has unbeatable views across Piccadilly Circus.
A world away from the hubbub, deep below Regent Street, Café Royal’s spa (Akasha Holistic Wellbeing Centre) comprises a 1,200-square metre oasis devoted to health and happiness. The 18-metre twinkly lap pool surrounded by calming white walls and a lounging deck is the ideal spot for some post-treatment relaxation – I definitely plan to return!
Despite being so central, Café Royal also has an impressive selection of in-house restaurants and bars. The Ten Room offers informal all-day brasserie-style dining. My tuna tartare was exceptional, and the poached turbot also proved supremely tasty. Absinthe has been revived in The Bar in homage to one of the hotel’s most famous patrons, Oscar Wilde, and the legendary Grill Room has been restored to its original Louis XVI splendour. Our chosen tipples (a White Cosmopolitan and a Vesper Martini) were some of the best cocktails we’ve ever tasted; the bartender lamented that very few people actually order absinthe these days.
Seamlessly weaving together architectural heritage with contemporary design, Café Royal provides a most pleasurable of stays. Yes, our newspaper didn’t arrive in the morning as promised, but really, there isn’t a lot to dislike about Café Royal.