When in London: four legendary hotels that embody British luxury 2
Facade of The Dorchester Hotel, London. Photograph by the Official Website
Travel

When in London: four legendary hotels that embody British luxury

In the heart of Mayfair in central London, four iconic British luxury hotels rise above the rest.
Patricia Tumang | Jul 09 2019

Claridge’s

49 Brook Street, Mayfair London W1K 4HR, United Kingdom
Tel. +44 20 7629 8860
claridges.co.uk

The five-star Claridge’s is an iconic art deco hotel situated in the heart of London’s Mayfair, a quick walk to Bond Street, where one can indulge in upscale shopping, and the expansive and lush Hyde Park. Known for its classic elegance and sophisticated English style, Claridge’s is the favored hotel of visiting heads of state and European royalty. With 203 bedrooms and 67 tastefully decorated suites, including two luxurious penthouse suites with spacious terraces that have unparalleled views of the city, Claridge’s interiors have been individually designed by fashion maven Dianne von Furstenberg.

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A peek inside the sitting room of the Royal Suite at Claridge’s.

What humbly started as a single house owned and managed by the Claridge family in the early 1800s had been transformed by the mid-twentieth century into a refuge for kings and exiled dignitaries during World War II. When Richard D’Oyly Carte, who also owned The Savoy, took over the hotel in 1893, he commissioned CW Stephens, the architect who designed London’s luxurious department store Harrods, to redesign Claridge’s. The hotel has been an icon ever since, hosting Winston Churchill, Audrey Hepburn, Cary Grant, and Kate Moss. It has retained much of its historic décor, including the design work of art deco pioneer Basil Ionides in the 1920s.

 

The Dorchester

53 Park Lane London W1K 1QA, United Kingdom
Tel. +44 20 7629 8888
dorchestercollection.com

Only a stone’s throw away from Bond Street and Knightsbridge, and many of London’s famous sites like Buckingham Palace, the Royal Albert Hall, and the National Gallery, the regal and decadent five-star Dorchester Hotel is perfectly situated in the cultural heart of the city. It occupies a hefty acre-and-a-half of prime London real estate to the east of Hyde Park in Mayfair. Reconstructed in the early 1930s, the hotel continues to evoke the design and feel of this glamorous era with ornate gilded details, art deco elements, and manicured front gardens.

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The Penthouse at The Dorchester.

It was rebuilt in 1929 on the grounds of the eighteenth-century Dorchester House, which was owned by Joseph Damer, the Earl of Dorchester. When it opened its doors to the public in 1931, it quickly became the site for literary gatherings such as the famous Foyles Literary Luncheons, which continue to this day. During World War II, General Dwight D. Eisenhower stayed at The Dorchester and a suite was named after him.

With 250 spacious and elegantly designed rooms and suites, some of which were renovated in the last year, and an array of fine dining establishments including Alain Ducasse’s contemporary French restaurant rated three Michelin stars, The Dorchester has beckoned high-profile guests such as T.S. Eliot, Somerset Maugham, Marlene Dietrich, The Beatles, Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor, and Dr. Nelson Mandela. It has been owned and managed by The Dorchester Collection since 1996.

 

The Savoy

Strand London WC2R 0EU, United Kingdom
Tel. +44 20 7836 4343
fairmont.com/savoy

Situated on the Strand in the City of Westminster in central London, the lavish, five-star Savoy overlooks the River Thames across from Savoy Place. As Britain’s first luxury hotel and the first in theatrical impresario Richard D’Oyly Carte’s empire of fine hotels and restaurants, The Savoy set the standard for opulence when it premiered in 1889. It has attracted notable guests such as Claude Monet, Charlie Chaplin, Frank Sinatra, Harry Truman, Marilyn Monroe, Humphrey Bogart, and Bob Dylan.

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Thames Foyer of The Savoy.

The Savoy’s history stretches back to the thirteenth century, when Count Peter of Savoy built Savoy Palace. In 1864, after a fire had burned through most of the property, it languished for years until D’Oyly Carte purchased the site to build the Savoy Theatre for his productions of Gilbert and Sullivan’s classical operas. Later, The Savoy Hotel was built to accommodate theatergoers who had traveled to London to see the shows.

A massive renovation project (estimated at GBP 100 million) was undertaken in December 1997 under part-owner Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Bin Abdulaziz Alsaud of Saudi Arabia and Fairmont Hotels and Resorts. It was the first time the hotel was closed to the public in its 118-year history. In 2010, the Savoy reopened to much fanfare. It had preserved the grand architecture of its past and blended it with contemporary flourishes. The hotel’s 268 English Edwardian and art deco rooms and suites, award-winning restaurants such as Gordon Ramsey’s Savory Grill, and its newly designed Thames Foyer, with a winter garden gazebo under a stained-glass cupola, are treats for the senses.

 

Brown’s

33 Albemarle Street London W1S 4BP, United Kingdom
Tel. +44 20 7493 6020
brownshotel.com

In the center of Mayfair on Albemarle Street and conveniently located near central London’s major theaters, landmarks, and art galleries, the five-star Brown’s Hotel personifies British luxury with its elegant stucco façade, and blue and gold mosaic panels bearing the hotel’s fascinating history. Brown’s is the oldest hotel in Great Britain, having been around since 1837. It was the first to receive a successful telephone call after Alexander Graham Bell stayed there in 1876 to demonstrate his new invention.

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Brown’s Hotel is a quick stroll to Burlington Arcade in the heart of Mayfair, London.
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The bar at HIX Mayfair at Brown’s Hotel in London.

Brown’s traditional English Victorian interiors mark its grand heritage, with designer Olga Polizzi mixing antiques with contemporary artwork in each room. Notable guests of the hotel include Theodore Roosevelt, Napoleon III and Empress Eugenie, George II (King of the Hellenes), Rudyard Kipling (who finished The Jungle Book there), and Agatha Christie. Since 2003, Brown’s has been owned and managed by the Rocco Forte collection of luxury hotels, which took over from Raffles International Hotels. It was renovated from 2004 to 2005 at an estimated cost of GBP 24 million.

 

This story originally appeared on Vault Magazine Issue 12 No 4 2013.