Luxury Explorer Review

5-Star Hotel Review

The Connaught

United Kingdom

Cushioned in culture and 21st century luxuries, the Connaught's remarkable old soul still shines through

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The Connaught
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The Connaught

Location

The corner of Carlos Place and Mount Street, Mayfair, London, W1

Travel Information

London City airport - 30 mins
London Heathrow - 40 mins
London Gatwick - 1 hour 15
Nearest Tube - Bond Street, Green Park or Marble Arch

Top Tips

Shopping in Mount Street followed by an 'Italian Job' in the Coburg Bar, before a 2 Michelin-star dinner at Hélène Darroze

5-Star X-Factors

The choice of three stunning bars - the glittering Connaught Bar, the sexy Coburg Bar and the new Champagne Bar - try one before dinner at Hélène Darroze and one or two after!

Raising the bar

We adore the Connaught, one of our favourite luxury hotels in London, and drop-in regularly. Cushioned in culture and 21st century luxuries, what we love most is that, even after its extensive restoration, the Connaught's remarkable old soul still shines through.

You couldn't really wish for a more prime location. Sitting vibrantly on the corner of Carlos Place and Mount Street, it doesn't get a lot better for the lucky luxe-trotter. In fact, Mount Street is now one of the most desirable streets in London, with serious fashion houses such as Balenciaga, Dior, Lanvin and Marc Jacobs mooring their London flagships. Mount Street restaurants are, for many, Mayfair institutions and with the buzz of the area 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).

Mount Street momentum

I took a stroll along Mount Street to a sky turning twilight-pink behind the 19th century rooftops of this very grand, patrician and, now, rather trendy street. Some were already enjoying al fresco cocktails and the new-found blend of tradition aside contemporary-chic felt liberating, sprinkling the street with a 21st century bonhomie.

This is London at its coolest with something for everyone: the antiquarian; the palaeontologist; the alchemist; the gastronomist; the haute couture aficionado; the sartorial fan of tweed; the gastro-pub enthusiast; the coiffeur and boudoir devotees; the art lover; the designer eyewear collector; and... the genuine luxury hotel connoisseur.

Connaught esprit

As electricity took over from solar with a twinkling iridescence, it was time to return to The Connaught for my night of tailored and finely-tuned indulgences. The concierge led me up the revered, Cuban-mahogany staircase to my Connaught Suite (105) on the first floor, where my butler awaited to familiarise my widening eyes with my lavish surroundings.

The suite was glowing in pale mint and gilt with touches of black velvet; meanwhile a bottle of LP was chilling beside a bowl of olives and handmade crisps on an 18th century dining table in front of the Mayfair view.

The bay of almost floor-to-ceiling windows looking onto Carlos Place was framed with lengths of damask in soft-hued stripes to match the very fine sofas. The curtain interlining was as thick as it gets. The butler showed me around the not so 'mini' bar, encased in a glorious vintage black and gold-leaf lacquered Chinese chest. "Would you like a martini, Ms Marchant?" What? I must have nodded a 'yes' to a martini on my pre-arrival wish-list.

So, this was how my delectable 'Connaught esprit' began, with layers of pampering in truly cosseting, elegant and unique style. The bathroom, as with all the hotel's bathrooms, has a solid functionality in its metres of Grecian Thassos marble, chunky chrome fittings and flattering lighting.

Enormous enamel cast-iron baths remain a feature, though now a flat-screen television is a welcome addition. The towels, gowns and slippers are perfect; Frette perfect. There are also lashings of Asprey in every corner of the room and a high-tech phone to call the butler if you run out.

Fastidious detail

The separate bedroom was inviting and extremely comfortable. Comfort is key at the Connaught and that requires fastidious attention to bed detail. The vast emperor-size bed was dressed with glorious white linen from the exclusive Italian luxury linen company, Pratesi.

The night was blissfully soporific. Real home comforts are paramount and that means fitted cupboards to deal with every eventuality. There is even a pull-out suede-covered shelf beneath the safe on which to place your jewels before you transfer them into the secure little leather tray.

All the drawers are self-closing and you could, quite literally, fit much of your home wardrobe content into this expertly designed cupboard space. The designer of many of the suites and rooms, Guy Oliver, was very keen to address the needs and demands of today's luxe-trotter; however, he kept a notably astute eye on The Connaught's indomitable legacy while incorporating the high spec modern fittings. So, the old and the new, the past and the present, all sit beguilingly well together.

Chicly raising the bar with Michelin stars

Why is this London beauty our favourite? Probably it’s the quality of the ‘sums’ that make up the whole. The bars: The Coburg Bar, The Champagne Room (a hidden gem) and The Connaught Bar, are all so inviting it’s hard to choose one over the other; however, let your mood dictate, and they will all delight with their differt ambiances. 

The Coburg Bar is the perfect place to meet in Mayfair  the sumptuous velvet covered wingbacks are groomed for guests and discerning local languishers. The bar's decoration was the creation of Parisian designer India Mahdavi, and inspired she was. This room has the mellow vibe of a Coltrane/Davis/Mingus jazz nightclub, with the glamorous feeling of modern chic in a sultry-toned palette of aubergines, burgundy and chocolate.

The bar stools are, quite literally, sculpted, and the sparkling deco chandeliers add period grandeur while the smooth lacquered bar still delivers some of the best martinis in London. The artwork is quirky, modern (including four Julian Opie cameos), and sits well on the slate-grey wood panelling.

The Connaught Bar is altogether more dazzling, designed by the late David Collins and inspired by English and Irish cubist art. Textured walls shimmering in platinum silver leaf, shiny polished surfaces and heavy drapes create an haute couture feel, with its own entrance from Mount Street shortening the time it takes from the till at Balenciaga to the bar. The cocktail list fuses impeccable classics with innovative new creations.

The champagne bar is a hidden gem, an intimate place for a quiet or romantic conversation, lubricated by the finest bubbly in Baccarat glasses.

Dining here is a rich and rewarding experience; from the light filled conservatory of Jean-Georges at the Connaught where the New York maestro's cuisine is inspired by South East Asian and Connaught classics in a contemporary space that takes your breath away.

For a French take on Mayfair dining, Hélène Darroze at the Connaught is a two-star Michelin institution, where you choose the ingredients and she delivers unique tastes and textures - inspired by her upbringing in southwest France - that will tease and delight your palate. This pairing of exquisite French cuisine with exotic interiors (again by India Mahdavi) is a truly striking combination. Just give yourself over to Hélène's expert culinary skills, based on total trust from her suppliers and everything in-sync with the seasons. We've enjoyed a birthday celebration here recently and turned day into night with scallops, foie gras, turbot, truffles and venison, washed down with a rarely available and totally delicious Filipa Pato "Nossa Calcario" Branco from Portugal and a supple 2009 Nuits-Saint-Georges 1er Cru. But be warned, the extensive list of classic wines come with legendary prices!

Serenely spoilt

Then for the ultimate city pamper and body escape, the Connaught even has an Aman Spa, hidden deep in the heart of the hotel. This space actually transports you into a serene Aman world right in the centre of Mayfair, complete with subtley-lit ionised pool and beautiful treatment rooms. So, in our opinion, check in here, not just for a night or two, but for a holiday!

Every stay at The Connaught feels familiar  even nostalgically comfortable - but I always discover a newfangled novelty in its service culture or trimmings. This 'spoiling' is a bespoke recipe, put together with immense thought, along with a genuine understanding of today's enlightened luxury traveller.

The Connaught keeps raising the bar to a standard where others have to follow. But the question is: what will they surprise us with next?

Sophie Marchant
Sophie Marchant


Luxury Explorer
Luxury Explorer
Luxury Explorer