In the run-up to the Olympics, London’s hoteliers are striving to create ever more lavishly appointed premium suites. The following may not all be the very biggest (45 Park Lane, which opened last year, has a ninth-floor penthouse of 305 sq m including terrace, hung with works by Sir Peter Blake; the Baglioni has a Royal Suite of 240 sq m, the Langham a 236 sq m Infinity Suite) but they are certainly among the most extraordinary.
The Royal Penthouse at The Corinthia
465 sq m ● sleeps four ● £21,600 per night
Last August the Corinthia’s sister hotel in Tripoli was searched by rebel fighters following a tip-off that Saif Gaddafi was hiding there. This perhaps explains why there’s a panic room — officially a “hidden den” — in its Royal Penthouse, a palatial nine-room duplex packed with extraordinary facilities. There’s an internal lift for those unable to negotiate the sweeping curved staircase that rises from the marble-clad rotunda lobby; a private spa suite and gym; a walk-in wine cellar; and a three-screen television in the study.
Money was plainly no object when it came to the décor either. Hotel designers GA Design International sited a 10-seat makassar ebony dining table beneath a gold-leaf ceiling in a mirrored oval dining room. The master bathroom is aglitter with golden onyx and Skyros marble tiling. The shelving is lined in leather. The bedside tables are upholstered in goatskin … But all this pales beside the views from the vast semi-circular sitting room, which encompass all London’s principal landmarks, from St Paul’s to the London Eye.
USP Its 64 sq m terrace is equipped with a fire pit so guests can sit out in comfort even on chilly evenings.
Bulgari 1 at the Bulgari Hotel
220 sq m ● sleeps two ● £14,400
Opens June 1
The fashionable Italian architect and designer Antonio Citterio may be best known for the furniture and lamps he has created for Flos, Vitra and B&B Italia, but, in partnership with Patricia Viel, he designs whole hotels too, notably the Bulgaris in Bali and Milan and now this, an 85-room purpose-built hotel on Knightsbridge.
Uncompromisingly contemporary and supremely stylish, its sixth-floor showpiece suite consists of a vast living room with a dining area, laid with gleaming Bulgari cutlery, divided from the main space by a large open-sided functioning fireplace. Beyond lies a spacious bedroom in which the décor acknowledges the brand’s origins as a silversmith in its use of silvery fabrics, not least the sumptuous bespoke silks into which the brand’s signature brooch motif has been woven. From the Achille Castiglioni floor lights to the gigantic Citterio sectional sofa, there is a real sense that no expense has been spared. The security measures, for instance, include not just panic buttons but a CCTV video screen by the door so occupants can check the corridor, lift and lobby are clear of other people before they go out.
USP Its fully equipped state-of-the-art kitchen makes it feel like an apartment.
325 sq m ● sleeps four ● £12,000
Refurbished at a cost of £2.5m with the hotel’s owner Prince Alwaleed bin Talal alSaud in mind, the two-bedroom Royal Suite is an essay in gilded opulence, designed by Pierre-Yves Rochon in a style one might call Second Empire, with lots of ormolu and extravagantly swagged drapery. You can certainly tell where the money has been spent. The entrance hall is tiled in gleaming chequerboard marble; the immense mahogany double doors are framed in the most elaborately ornate architraving. A reported £25,000 was spent on the bespoke horsehair mattress for the emperor-size bed. The result is undeniably, almost absurdly opulent and clearly intended for those for whom nothing succeeds like excess.
USP The Thames views: the drawing room, dining room, study and both bedrooms all overlook the river, a panorama that encompasses seven bridges and stretches from Canary Wharf to the Houses of Parliament.
The Royal Suite at the St Pancras Renaissance
300 sq m ● sleeps six ● £12,000
The £200m restoration of the Gormenghast-like former Midland Grand at St Pancras station to its Victorian Gothic splendour was an extravagant labour of love. The replication of the original wallpaper in the Sir George Gilbert Scott Suite alone cost £47,000. By contrast, the hotel’s largest suite, the second-floor, three-bedroom Royal, is altogether 21st century, with its pale oak floors and modern rugs, uncurtained four-poster beds and contemporary art on the walls – despite occupying what was once the hotel’s Venetian Ballroom.
There’s no denying the scale and spaciousness of the suite. The dining table, for example, seats 20, and the huge purple figure-of-eight buttoned leather ottoman in the living room has a certain imperial swagger. But though a giant print of photographer Polly Borland’s arresting 2002 portrait of the Queen hangs above the principal fireplace, there’s nothing else overtly regal about it.
USP Unusually, the rate includes a wet shave for male guests (as well as a £125 credit in the spa).
285 sq m ● sleeps four ● £12,000
There are infinitely grander, more ostentatious suites in London but none – at least to my eye – lovelier than this sixth-floor two-bedroom light and airy eyrie. Designed by David Collins in a cool palette of greys and blues, its look is a contemporary take on Art Deco, with modern marble fireplaces, a lacquered kidney-shaped dressing table in the capacious dressing room and laser-cut broderie-anglaise curtains around the master bed.
It feels intimate rather than imposing and agreeably private (it even has its own staircase). Indeed the designer’s brief was to conjure the sort of London pied-à-terre an art collector might have: an ideal home in fact, right down to the fact that its corridor has been lined with shelves of art books and modern fiction. Yet with a spacious sitting room, a dining room that seats 10 and twin teak-decked terraces overlooking the capital’s rooftops, it’s also a stylish place in which to entertain.
USP Right in the heart of Mayfair, yet absolute privacy and discretion are assured, and it’s a much quieter location than most of its rivals.
The Lanesborough Suite at The Lanesborough
380 sq m ● sleeps eight ● £16,800
You might be forgiven for assuming the 270 sq m Royal Suite, which overlooks Buckingham Palace Garden, was the finest accommodation on offer at the London outpost of Starwood’s premium St Regis brand. But last summer it opened the Lanesborough Suite, which is yet grander, more than a third larger and, for those reassured by such details, even more expensive.
Designed by Albert Pinto, a specialist in superyacht and private jet interiors as well as the homes of the super rich, the suite extends over much of the first floor of this 19th-century hospital turned hotel, subdividing it into four bedrooms, five bathrooms, a drawing room, study, dining room and kitchen, which look – through triple-glazed security glass – on to Hyde Park Corner or towards Green Park. But for all its expansiveness and grandeur, it is also agreeably English in its eclectic use of traditional prints and chintzes and bold choices of colour – acid greens, Schiaparelli pinks – which makes it less oppressively glitzy than some of its rival suites.
USP Guests have at their disposal a chauffeur-driven Rolls-Royce Phantom.
The Harlequin Suite at The Dorchester
208 sq m ● sleeps four ● from £5,700
Back in 1953 Sir Robert McAlpine, then owner of the Dorchester in London, commissioned the stage designer Oliver Messel to design the most luxurious hotel suite in the world. Noël Coward complained of its “excessive luxe”; “all terribly exotic, but it is not me”, he said. The result, the Oliver Messel suite, has been preserved as its designer conceived it, and is almost always occupied.
Who knows what Coward would have made of the hotel’s two-bedroom rooftop Harlequin Suite, more than 40 per cent larger and even more luxurious. An enfilade of elegant rooms includes a drawing room, dining room and bar and was redecorated in 2007 by Alexandra Champalimaud as a contemporary yet fabulous confection of golden, Thai silk furniture clad in emerald parchment, shagreen, silken Nepalese rugs and a dining room hung with silver wallpaper, the better to reflect the light from the bespoke Metalarté crystal chandelier that was inspired by Elizabeth Taylor’s diamonds.
This was Taylor’s London home from home. Indeed, the pink marble bathroom off the second bedroom was installed at her behest. She was staying here when she learnt she’d been offered a million-dollar contract to play Cleopatra, and evidently couldn’t stand to share a bathroom with her then husband, Eddie Fisher.
USP Unrivalled glamour, Hollywood heritage and views across Hyde Park.