One of the high points of a trip is the hotel experience. If the exterior architecture sets the mood for what you might expect inside, your room/suite defines your real feelings about the hotel. Some of us treat our hotel as our temporary home away from home – a place to crash after a tired day of sight-seeing. For others, it is a sanctuary away from ‘life as usual’, an oasis of relaxation and tranquility. Regardless of the time we actually spend in our hotel room or in exploring its services, we come away either appreciating or expressing disappointment at its design and architecture.
London, the fashion and finance capital that attracted 31 million tourists in 2015, has its fair share of beautifully designed hotels. Here’s a look at four that deliver memorable experiences and make you wish that you could spend more time in the city.
1. citizenM London Bankside
citizenM London Bankside feels like a modern, uber-stylish home. Step in and you’re greeted by a vividly colored lobby with sofas and chairs around a smart TV, and books lining shelves and lying on tables. The architecture can be described as chic, trendy and welcoming – vibrant and flamboyant without being over-the-top. The stimulating color scheme continues to CanteenM, which serves fresh food prepared throughout the day, and transforms into a wine bar at sundown.
Visual interest is also created by the numerous hanging lanterns that juxtapose with the contemporary furniture, avant-garde artwork and brilliantly patterned rugs. Hotel rooms are similarly eclectic, and feature the occasional stuffed toy that somehow makes you feel safe and snuggly, even if you happen to be a forty-seven year old adult!
2. The Ritz
The Ritz London’s architecture is a collaboration between a French and British designer; it was the former’s decision to incorporate the Louis XVI theme, retained by a recent update, making you feel like royalty when you’re put up here. The antique furniture, original chandeliers and lighting fixtures, and gold leaf moldings transport you to back to an earlier era, while the skillful integration of Wi-Fi and other technological conveniences allow you to work and remotely interact in your stunning bedroom of rose pink, salmon pink, yellow and blue, and luxurious draperies crafted from damask and Jacquard silk.
The vaulted Long Gallery running the full length of the building and connecting the masterfully designed public rooms was once hailed as an architectural landmark. The Palm Court’s imposing marble columns, mirrored panels, central fountain sculpture, wrought iron chandelier and gilded trellis enhance the simple joy of afternoon tea and gossip.
3. The Goring
You most certainly can’t stay at Buckingham Palace, so why not head over to its neighbor Goring in Belgravia, known for its quietly luxurious appeal. Looking elegant and majestic after a recent renovation, the Goring has gained a new front hall that inspires awe courtesy of its silver-leaf wallpaper depicting romantic English landscapes and exotic animals; the elegantly embellished plasterwork ceiling; and the refurbished grand marble floor.
Rooms at the Goring now boast Gainsborough silk curtains and beckon travelers seeking understated luxury and a welcoming environment. The Duchess of Cambridge stayed at the Goring the night before her fairytale wedding, and also graced the hotel’s 105th birthday celebrations with her presence last year. Now there’s an interesting ice-breaker for your next party!
4. The Rookery
While the term ‘rookery’ was used to depict a city slum in the 18th and 19th century, The Rookery hotel at historic EC1 is appropriately posh, and a sensory delight defined by tasteful Georgian architecture and a quiet, cozy atmosphere. Once you climb into your four-poster bed, the wall paintings, antique desks and fireside make you feel like you’re on the set of a period movie, before you spot the iPad dock, DVD player, minibar and flatscreen television. If you thought the Edwardian bathrooms were super-interesting, wait until you book the Mary Lane suite dedicated to a servant girl with a rags-to-riches story, or the two-story penthouse suite Rook’s Nest with a staircase, sitting room, and scenic views of St. Paul’s cathedral.
Which of these hotels do you find most intriguing? Check out their rates and start planning your visit at the earliest.