DIPLOMATIC CONCIERGE: Venetia van Kuffeler visits the Hotel Café Royal in its latest incarnation
IN 1863, A FRENCH WINE merchant fled to England in a bid to escape the clutches of creditors in Paris. Working with his cousin from Burgundy, they handpicked each wine bottle for his restaurant and bar. As it became widely recognised as one of the greatest wine cellars in the world, so the Café Royal established itself as the epicentre of fashionable London. Located on Regent Street, the property sat on the Georgian thoroughfare dedicated to the Prince Regent, who later became George IV. Welcoming famous patrons, from royalty and celebrities to the creative and the notorious, it has been an iconic landmark on the capital’s social scene for over a century. Writers such as Oscar Wilde and Arthur Conan Doyle, and distinguished figures such as Winston Churchill and Noël Coward, plus royalty and rock stars all frequented the establishment. The Prince of Wales, later to abdicate as Edward VIII in order to marry Mrs Simpson, and The Duke of York, later to become George VI, often lunched at Café Royal, as did Diana, Princess of Wales. In 1973, David Bowie famously retired his alter ego, Ziggy Stardust with a star-studded party there, dubbed ‘The Last Supper.’
This story didn’t end there, however, and the original Grade II listed property, was acquired by The Set Hotels just over 10 years ago. A careful restoration followed, balancing the demands of twenty-first century living while retaining the grandeur of the historic public rooms. Seamlessly merging old and new, the hotel remains true to its glamorous spirit.
Recently unveiled, a double-height lobby designed by world-renowned architect Piero Lissoni has transformed the entrance on Air Street. As visitors arrive through the revolving door, they are greeted by a vast, 350-kilogram Murano glass chandelier that dominates the room. The grand, original areas dating back to the 1860s and 1920s have been sensitively restored, while 160 spacious guestrooms and suites, including 49 suites and seven signature suites, have been created in a contemporary yet refined style.
Masterpieces of contemporary design mixed with the building’s heritage, guestrooms and suites feature bespoke furniture, luxurious Frette bed linen, a fully stocked butler’s pantry, and grand windows overlooking the streets below. Spectacular bathrooms have been created in the hotel’s sleek, signature Carrara marble; each bath is made out of one huge slab.
Reminiscent of the property’s glorious past, the signature suites continue to amaze. Whether it’s the Dome Penthouse’s two spacious terraces with Mary Poppins views of London, or the Royal Wing offering up to 13 bedrooms and exclusive entrances and use of corridors, the Hotel Café Royal has some outstanding options for VIP guests.
Furthermore, butlers, an exceptional guest relations team and the concierge are all on hand to ensure a seamless stay. After hearing about our holiday plans the following week, our guest relations manager sent gift of a mask and snorkel to the room. In all our interactions with staff around the building, they really went the extra mile; nothing was too much trouble.
In the heart of central London, Hotel Café Royal is also ideally positioned for meetings and events. From the beautifully restored Pompadour Ballroom, rich with historical detail, to the cutting-edge boardroom, each space boasts natural daylight and are equipped with the latest technology.
Hotel Café Royal’s signature aesthetic is a seamless combination of modern design while cherishing the building’s historic details. The property, however, continues to excel on London’s five-star hotel scene. Along with the lobby, there is a cool new roof terrace for warmer months, new restaurant Laurent serving steak and sushi, plus Cake and Bubbles from Albert Adrià, the ‘World’s Best Pastry Chef.’ Hotel Café Royal really has it all.
HOTEL CAFÉ ROYAL, 68 REGENT STREET, LONDON, W1B 4DY
T: +44 20 7406 3333 WWW.HOTELCAFEROYAL.COM