In 1929, thirty years after Claridge's opened its doors, the Art Deco avant-garde, Oswald Milne, transformed the more traditional and staid lobby into the art deco jewel of Mayfair, not to say, London. In the last 78 years the weighty bronze and gilt metal revolving foyer doors, fingerprinted for decades by the rich and famous, (unless they use the discreet mews entrance), have lifted many a spirit in one full swing. Entering Claridge's is and always has been special, and now, even more so.
It may seem a little unfair that one born out of the ultimate silver cutlery drawer should have a talent worthy of rooftop bellowing; but it's a fact. David Linley is a serious Art Deco artisan and there is no better place to enjoy this distinctive style, immaculately interpreted and exquisitely restored, than at Claridge's.
Whilst Claridge's is supremely British in design and concept, it is also refreshingly cosmopolitan. There is no stuffiness, no jingoism, and none of the aloofness so often associated with aristocratic hauteur: now it is the ultimate destination for many luxe-trotters from around the globe while for some it is their familiar abode when visiting London. So, its location is quite privileged, not to say priceless.
The Berkeley, Knightsbridge
This glamorous contender is a hard one to beat personally. For starters it houses Marcus Wareing our all-time favourite Michelin starred chef, and its Knightsbridge location is sizzling. The Blue Bar is a perfect chill-zone for relaxing after dropping your Harvey Nichols and Harrod's bags on your sultry King-size bed. Both these landmark luxury department stores are a five and ten minute walk from the hotel. The groovy Caramel Room is perfect for sophisticated all-day pit stops.
Its prime location, warm and impeccable service, together with totally gorgeous rooms and suites, makes The Berkeley perfect for families. Plus a mellow dip in the rooftop pool, with panoramic views across London, is a great way to end or start a day's shopping or cultural pursuits. London's favourite park, Hyde Park, is a short walk from here.
The Connaught, Mayfair Village
Some people don't like change but, as The Connaught was ready for a refreshing refurbishment, change here is better than a rest: it's positively uplifting.
You couldn't really wish for a more prime location in London's sensational village of Mayfair, sitting, now vibrantly so, on Carlos Place, alongside Mount Street; it doesn't get a lot better for the lucky luxe-trotter. In fact, it seems that Mount Street is being coined as the most desirable street in London, with serious fashion houses such as Balenciaga and Marc Jacobs mooring their flagships. Mount Street restaurants are, for many, Mayfair institutions, and with all this limelight they have become even more desirable. Try getting a table at Scott's (well, your personal butler at the Connaught might just be able to help out, but otherwise, join the endless waiting list).
The Connaught is fast becoming 'the place' to stay and socialise and certainly the new Connaught Bar, designed by David Collins, is 'fizzingly' outstanding. I can honestly say that I have never had a better concocted virgin Mary, ever! The buzz here is electric, however the problem is nabbing one of those uber-comfortable seats. The Coburg Bar is all velvety and jazzy and we have just enjoyed an exceptional meal at Helene Darroze, France's most wanted culinary import.
What to do in London - Top Tips from the Concierge
- Royal Academy of Arts near Green Park Tube with J.W. Waterhouse: The Modern Pre-Raphaelite.
- Serpentine Gallery in Kensington Gardens exhibiting Design Real, a groundbreaking presentation of contemporary design.
- The new Saatchi gallery on the Kings Road (ideal for combining trendy boutique shopping with culture).
Hairspray, Dirty Dancing, Mamma Mia and Grease plus the awesome Lion King.
Need one say more than Harvey Nichols, Harrods, Sloane Street and Walton Street.
- Dine in-hotel at one of the three coveted Michelin starred restaurants; Helene Darozze at The Connaught; Marcus Wareing at The Berkeley; Gordon Ramsey at Claridge's.
- Amaya, New Modern Indian Restaurant located in the Knightsbridge area. One of London's best nouvelle-Indian restaurants; with a great modern interior.
Address: Halkin Arcade, Motcomb Street, SW1.
- Sketch, Modern French cuisine set in very hip surroundings. The restaurant has 2 sections: the gallery on the ground floor and the lecture room for fine dining on the first floor. The Gallery turns into a club after 11pm and also has 2 bars on the premises.
Address: 9 Conduit Street, W1.
- Maze, from Gordon Ramsey Holdings, Chef Jason Atherton tapas-styled menu described as Modern French with Asian influence cuisine is extremely creative. An elegant restaurant with a fun and relaxed vibe.
Address: 10-13 Grosvenor Square, W1.
- Hakkasan, Modern Chinese cuisine located in a dark but "sexy" basement. Very hip, elegant lighting and up-beat music.
Address: 8 Hanway Place, W1.