The Peninsula London is the capital’s most hotly anticipated hotel in years – and it more than lives up to the hype
Words: Jonathan Whiley
Brace, brace – The Peninsula London has landed. After a long-haul journey (the brand has been looking for the perfect site in the capital for the past 30 years), construction began on Grosvenor Place in 2017. A cool £1.1 billion later, this landmark five-star hotel with 190 rooms and 25 private residences took off last September and has been the talk of Belgravia (and much of London) ever since.
Luxury travel journalists, neighbouring hoteliers, curious local residents and jet-set travellers have all been through its revolving doors. Does it live up to its billing? In short, yes.
It’s not perfect – who is? – but it’s here to make a statement with exceptional restaurants, world-class personalised service (a hallmark of the brand) and one of the best spas in London.
Our stay is a matter of weeks after the spa’s opening and we have the 25-metre heated, subterranean pool – one of the biggest, if not the biggest in the capital – entirely to ourselves. Fitted with underwater speakers with illuminated overhead panels that change throughout the day – simulating natural sunlight – it’s a sleek, tranquil space. There is also a Jacuzzi with hydrotherapy massage jets, poolside loungers, a 24-hour fitness centre and men’s and women’s steam rooms and saunas.
A range of body and face treatments is available, from wraps to deep-tissue massages (the hotel has partnerships with beauty brand Margy’s and the Ayurveda aromatherapy specialist Subtle Energies). Spa facilities are only open to hotel guests currently, but treatments can be booked by external guests.
While Peninsula may be Asia’s oldest luxury hotel brand, its London property is a masterclass in best of British design. The fashion designer Jenny Packham has created the staff uniforms, perfumer Timothy Han has devised a bespoke fragrance for the shower and bath products, and artists from the Royal Drawing School have produced nearly 200 artworks of British landscapes for the guest rooms and suites.
Our Grand Premier Park suite is a sprawling sanctuary; occupying a corner spot of more than 100 sq metres on the fifth floor with a view to The Lanesborough one way and Wellington Arch and Hyde Park Corner to the other. The palette is neutral with a plush marble bathroom, easy-to-work technology and evidence that the design and functionality have been meticulously thought out, from the dressing table to the position of the plug sockets (not always a given, even in the finest hotels).
But enough sexy talk. Real seduction here lies on the roof; reached by walking past a vintage racing car, under the nose of Concorde and hopping into a lift masquerading as a hot air balloon. When you arrive, a chic, no-reservations bar awaits, with spectacular views across the capital’s skyline and a design and cocktail menu that nods to motorsport and aviation. Signature drinks put a twist on the classics, with the likes of Aldrin (a variation on a white lady) and Disco (a clever take on a negroni).
The need for speed theme continues at the rooftop restaurant, Brooklands by Claude Bosi, of two-Michelin-starred Bibendum acclaim. Named after the Surrey racetrack, diners sit beneath a scale-model of Concorde suspended from the ceiling.
This sort of experiential approach could be naff in the wrong hands, but here it feels thrilling. Primarily, because the quality of the food and service – as you embark on a gastronomic journey through the British Isles – is of the highest order. Dishes are playful but precise; English beetroot paired with stracciatella and black cardamom, Lake District lamb with mint and pastrami and dazzling, intriguing desserts.
Looking for something a little less fine dining? Canton Blue, the hotel’s ground-floor Cantonese restaurant and cosy bar, Little Blue, offers an excellent alternative. Here you can enjoy refined classics – think Peking duck with the crispiest skin, wok-fried dry-aged beef with black bean, sweet and sour pork and an extensive list of dim sum.
Awaiting in the courtyard – landscaped to replicate a classic English garden – lies a liveried fleet of British cars including a vintage Rolls-Royce, Bentley Bentayga and an electrified Austin-Healey taxi. No detail or expense has been spared; The Peninsula London means business.
Grand Premier Park Suite
Size: 109-113 sq metres (1,173-1,216 sq ft)
Price: £7,500 per night (other rooms start from £1,300 per night)
Standout: the sleek new spa and brooklands rooftop restaurant