Luxury Explorer Review

5-Star Hotel Review


United Kingdom

World renowned for its stylish Art Deco opulence and 5 star Mayfair location

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Brook Street, Mayfair, London, W1

Travel Information

London City Airport - about 35 mins London Heathrow - about 40 mins London Gatwick - 1 hour 10 mins Nearest Tube - Bond Street

Top Tips

Afternoon tea at Claridges is a must for all

5-Star X-Factors

The marble entrance hall makes you feel special the moment you arrive


The Palace of Mayfair
Deco delights at Claridge's


The Palace of Mayfair
Deco delights at Claridge's

The Palace of Mayfair

If you have never ascended the grand 19th century sweeping staircase to spend the night in a suite at Claridge's, then make it one of your top luxe hotel objectives. It is here that you will connect with the quintessentially patrician side of British culture, viz the 'refinement of mind, tastes and manners'.

Upon entering this opulent establishment you should first pause at the masterfully executed portrait of Mrs Claridge, take note of the polished steel statue of a deer, commissioned by Oswald Milne in 1929, and then turn your head to the remarkable, wide staircase and imagine Fred Astaire descending in white tie and tails with Ginger Rogers in a white palliated chiffon gown. Then, hone-in on the acres of black and white marble squares beneath your feet and allow their waltz to unfold in your mind's eye.

Next, glide over to the cushioned seating area of the foyer and take note of the outrageous Dale Chihuly's silver and white light sculpture that seems almost alive in its snake-like detail. This is Claridge's, the 'Palace of Mayfair', a landmark hotel that has maintained this glamorous appeal with swinging results, combining the best of the original with the best ever since.

Prime position

You really are in the heart of Mayfair here and, although you could flag down a black cab every minute, you don't need to for some time. Bond Street is only a few moments away, so too is Berkeley Square, Park Lane, Piccadilly and Oxford Street. For many years the prime location of this hotel has drawn the eccentric elite including the likes of Emily Dutton, musician, artist and Red Cross worker. Strikingly good looking and with a penchant for fine fashion, she chose Claridge's as her London abode while touring Europe and continued to do so thereafter.

Emily seldom retired before 3.30am, sipping martinis in the bar surrounded by admiring royals and the high society and, for her in-vogue physique, shopped daily on Bond Street. Little has changed except the names of the beautiful clients. It would not be strange to see Laura Bailey, model and muse, ascending the stairs, or Lulu Guiness, handbag designer, who recently stated that Claridge's was her favourite hotel because she "always feels a thrill" when she enters the glamorous lobby into "a wonderful world of sophistication and wonderful service".

Stylish updates

Claridge's is set on preserving its unique character and has, therefore, commissioned some of the world's leading interior designers to blend its grandeur with the 21st century, demonstrating uncompromising attention to detail to astonishing effect. The old has merged into the new imperceptibly and the result maintains the essence of this truly English hotel.

Art Deco suites are shamelessly accurate and comfortable, so too are the more traditional ones, like the one we stayed in, designed and decorated by David Linley, the Queen's nephew and leading furniture and interior designer. The effect is both modern and classical, a result that will last for many generations but still in tune with the decade that so adored this grand establishment; the sultry, swinging mega-stylish trend setting 20s.

Gone is the dated, garish carpet of the 80s and, in it its place, smooth caramel with geometric lines framing the edges and vast bed surrounds. It works, and the change for sore eyes is refreshing. The bathrooms are solid, bold and generous with timeless appeal and chunky fittings. The weighty white towels and gowns and thickly cushioned slippers are all indicative of the attention that is given to ensuring quality that embraces discreet comfort. These are slippers worth packing.

My favourite rendezvous here has to be the bar, The Fumoir. It has the nostalgic decadent sense of occasion born out of the stylish 20s. Marlene Dietrich's portrait in black and white, her beauty coyly hiding behind black veil and liquid smoke, hangs above the groovy bar. Meanwhile, a barman makes perhaps one of the most incredible cocktails I have ever enjoyed: a Claridge's Special with limes and fresh dates, not too sweet and simply divine. Reclining in maroon velvet, surrounded by aubergine-coloured leather walls, icons from the decade of decadence and soft candlelight, is the perfect spot to imbibe before a memorable meal.

Fabulous Fera (now replaced by Davies & Brook)

Walking into Fera is nothing short of theatrical. A spotlight beaming down onto the Fera logo surrounded by ruby red velvet curtains at the entrance is a total contrast to the relaxed, inviting, almost brasserie-styled dining room beyond this staged approach.

Tables are bare and organic, no fancy trimmings of starched tablecloths or lines of silverware either side of fine chinaware; instead it’s earthy and, well, not quite feral as the name might imply. There are certainly no cave dwelling diners here but the mood is more relaxed than before, and the vibe is cosmopolitan and current. This is the dawning of the age of democratic dining which feels refreshingly less elitist, but is sadly no less pricey. However, it is quite definately a notch above its predecessor, in both design and menu.

The head chef, Simon Rogan, who also runs the two Michelin-starred L’Enclume in Cumbria, has redefined the fine cuisine experience into something far more engaging and enjoyable, but certainly without any compromise on gastronomy. The food here is outrageously good.

We had the tasting menu accompanied with wines chosen by the sommelier to match each plate. The styling of the ingredients may look casual but they are precisely orchestrated and exquisitely flavoured. There are around 12 different plates on the tasting menu but they are surprisingly light considering all the flavor and texture that is packed into them.

The swede dumplings filled with Isle of Mull cheese and Wiltshire truffle melted into a chorus of punchy piquancy. The native lobster with kale leaves in lobster cream with crispy pork was something I could have eaten at least three more times, that night. Each course left you wanting for more, followed swiftly by renewed anticipation for the next, and not one mouthful disappointed. The wines were expertly paired with the surf and turf courses; the most notable were the Côtes du Jura Chardonnay ‘La Reine’ and the Châteauneuf du Pape, but they were all fabulous.

Room for more

The sweet courses were heaven sent while the roasted baby fig and gingerbread topped with fig leaf yogurt has left me hooked. By the end of our gastronomic journey we genuinely felt that this was one of the most exceptional and technically brilliant dining experiences we have had in London. He doesn’t want to shock your palate, he wants to seduce it, and with such an extraordinary explosion of flavours, using many ingredients from his own farm in Cumbria. Though a flavour may taste familiar, its interpretation is genius.

This is Claridge's through and through: classic, fresh and timeless in its sense of traditional British appeal. It was known to all in 'the know' as the Palace of Mayfair in the first half of the last century. To all intents and purposes, it still should be.

Sophie Marchant
Sophie Marchant

Deco delights at Claridge's

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.

Claridge's and Art Deco go back to the 20s when the modernistic style was played out as a result of the Paris Exposition Internationale des Arts Decoratifs et Industriels Modernes in 1925. Primary influences were Cubism, Art Nouveau, and the Russian Ballet, with a particular fondness for bold colours and streamlining found in automobile and aircraft design of the time.

In 1929, 30 years after Claridge's opened its doors, Oswald Milne transformed the more traditional and staid lobby into the deco jewel of Mayfair, not to say, London. For almost 90 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.

There is a temptation to leap past the bronze 'deer' lights and up the gloriously wide staircase to the divine Linley-designed suite on the first floor, but Claridge's is such a spectacle to behold that many are simply stopped in their polished sea of black-and-white-chequered-marble tracks.

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 adroit luxe-trotter from around the globe, and for many it is their familiar abode when visiting London where its location is quite privileged!

The Linley Suite

Being a bit of a purist at heart I requested an Art Deco Linley Suite in favour of a 'Hybrid' or 'Traditional' as I knew from the moment I saw this dreamy design duo (drawing room/boudoir) on the night of the unveiling, that the glorious bed had my head on it.

Glamour is most alluring when it does not appear to be trying too hard, when it oozes its appeal with unfettered ease, like the classic 50s look of hat forward and hair up with few accessories and defined red lips. This nuance of fashion is what you get from the pure deco suite where the essential lines of design and function are in perfect balance, culminating in something very close to perfect.

Every piece of furniture, whether old-deco-bespoke or new-deco-bespoke, is in pristine condition: the new salon-style sofas upholstered in Aston-Martin-type leather with a lilac, violet and avocado ridged velvet; the low-table in walnut with a burr ash inlay; the deeply covetable mini bar, all sit timelessly among the restored original silver fireplace, clocks and wall lights.

The bar is quite something: we had friends for in-suite-drinks before dinner around the corner at Sketch and all agreed that this was a mini-bar masterpiece. It has taken the concept of an oft pedestrian and merely functional piece of furniture to another level, and if this mini-bar doesn't induce a Martini-stirring, then nothing will.

It is made from a full-bodied Macassar ebony, surmounted in an under-lit, slightly green-tinted textured glass above chrome handled doors which open up a Claridge's world of bar exotica. If the shaker isn't there, it soon will be. Atop this treasure chest we had LP chilling, a deco vase full of fragrant lilies and a frosted glass platter of truffles. This was chic party time and our friends rose to the occasion without a flutter of hesitation. We were so in the right place in Mayfair and we knew it.

Showing off

Our bedroom was shown off with immense pride it was ours for a night after all, and it delivered its promise of expectation with a 'wow'. The palette is lilac and silver, the walls are virginal lilac (the colour reminded me of those little violet sweets from childhood) and the silver is in the lamps and reflected surfaces and surrounds. There is a fabulous play on light throughout the suites and, unlike many luxe-hotels, you can play with the lighting to suit the mood with astonishing accuracy. That bed eventually became mine and how heavenly it was. I still say England, and of course Claridge's, is up there with Switzerland at making a bed as soft as fluffy cumulous floating in milk and honey.

The boldest room of all has to be the dressing room: a glass mounted dressing table set on Marilyn-lipstick-red carpet against a curtain of mirrors. Though this may make certain eyes water it manages to capture a reflection of past glamour that suits a contemporary mood.

From here, the bathroom, and what an amazing, strangely nostalgic and chunky room this is. The vast vanity is a solid mass of toffee, cream and black marble, with seriously solid squat brass taps, while the bath is quite literally the deepest I have ever reclined in with two shower heads to cater for the needs of the vertically challenged. The water rises happily to the shoulders, leaving you feeling like a young child in your parents' bath.

The details reminded me a little of the old fashioned swimming baths, slightly public-tiled with even a hint of that same utilitarian green in places. Again, this was charming a sort of throw back but definitely appealing. The generous supply of Asprey accessories was the 'purple water' range to match the boudoir-violet how clever, and such a heavenly scent.

After Sketch, we returned for nerve-soothing night-caps in one of the best petite chic bars in London, The Fumoir. Usually, creamy cocktails are too sickly but this one was cut with the levels just right, and although the sweet smelling Macanudo cigars are no longer allowed in here, the allure was still as sensual.

The following morning, after feasting on superbly executed scrambled eggs and Daylesford organic smoked salmon, we left the famous revolving doors and stepped into some bright July morning sunshine where the pristine Bentleys were being dutifully polished on Brook Street. Then, something struck me about this place. It is priceless.

Sophie Marchant
Sophie Marchant

Luxury Explorer
Luxury Explorer