*A version of this story appears in Harper’s Bazaar Interiors Fall 2017 Issue
Proudly placed between two royal parks facing Buckingham Palace and London’s fashionable arts district, The Lanesborough Hotel is a modern tribute to British elegance.
Walking into the stately Lanesborough Hotel is akin to taking a step back in time… with a high tech twist. Gone are the crowded streets of central London; here is a place where butlers suited in grey bespoke suits open doors in a well rehearsed choreography of smiles and bows, where original artwork that rivals London’s galleries decorate the walls. Before you brush the hotel off as a traditional, buttoned up experience, it’s worthwhile to get to know why The Lanesborough continues to be a favorite of royalty, celebrities, and the odd, wild 1920’s party thrown in the presidential suite. Welcome to The Lanesborough.
A Piece of British History
A member of the prestigious Oetker Collection, The Lanesborough was once the home of the Viscount Lanesborough in 1719, before becoming St George’s Hospital and eventually opening as The Lanesborough Hotel in 1991. Walking into the entrance, with its three tiered chandeliers, oil paintings and Regency colours, you would be forgiven for thinking that this is a centuries-old hotel that has been remodelled. In fact, the hotel is less than 25 years old and closed in 2013 for a complete refurbishment spearheaded by the renowned designer Alberto Pinto.
Behind the mahogany desks at the reception area sits a grand mahogany display case full of beautiful blue and white china featuring Chinois designs.
Rather than an impersonal hotel check in, this feels like you’re being received in the sitting area in the home of a wealthy friend.
Walking around, this first impression will intensify. It’s your quirky Downton Abbey fantasy come alive. You will marvel at some of the artwork – for example, the drapery effect on this wall is actually hand-painted, it’s not cloth:
Dining at Michelin-starred Celeste is an experience to write home about. The walls are a refreshing baby blue and white. Tiered chandeliers dangle from the ceiling, with the main one weighing over 200 kilograms. A jazz pianist improvises on a black grand piano tucked discreetly in a corner.
It is a beautiful manifestation of what you can expect to be served on a plate here, as well; the exquisite attention to detail is reflected in the cuisine. From pan-fried halibut with a pistachio crust to creamy foie gras, make sure to save room for dessert.
Sweets are architectural masterpieces here, with a grand finale of a chocolate dome that is ceremoniously cracked in front of your eyes to reveal colourful, sugary treats inside. It is sure to delight the child in every one of us.
Each room at The Lanesborough is unique and designed to have features that differ from the rest. Most of the rooms have a lightened mahogany wood effect with varying colours.
Most have marble bathrooms and standalone tubs that promise the delight of a warm, scented bath on a rainy day.
With the throwback to another time that is pervasive throughout the hotel, the modern touches are a welcome element that keep guests connected to the present. A wonderfully funny feature in each room is the hidden TV that materializes by the press of a remote button from behind an oil painting.
The WiFi is high speed and the TV features complimentary movies. There is a tablet in each room where you can set room lighting the way you like, as well as order room service and call your butler. A butler is available to each room 24/7 to cater to needs, including pressing laundry. A highlight of a visit is using the tablet to order complimentary ‘movie-night popcorn’, a perfect, buttery complement to a movie at the end of a long day of sightseeing.
The refurbishment at The Lanesborough is most apparent in the cavernous, underground spa. With a decidedly more modern look and feel, the extension includes 18,000 square feet of seriously impressive facilities.
The gym is fully equipped for professionals and beginners, with dumbbells branded with The Lanesborough name and logo. The personal trainer on hand is credited with working with Elle McPherson and Rosie Huntington-Whiteley.
A private restaurant featuring healthy food, also curated by the Michelin-starred chef from Celeste, includes menu items that are sure-fire favourites with a twist, like homemade avocado toast.
A room full of mirrors offers barre and ballet classes. A spa butler is on hand to give you towels and water after a workout. Next door, a large hydropool is a perfect place to take a refreshing dip, with steam and dry saunas nearby.
The treatment rooms for massages are inspired by Roman baths with a touch of opulence. There is a mani-pedi section for ladies, while the most distinguished feature in the men’s section is a private changing room encased in gold.
Staying at the hotel has the feel of staying at a fun, interactive royal home. Guests will be hard pressed to find reasons to leave with the art, delicious fare and decadent movie-night popcorn on offer. Because at The Lanesborough, they have thought of everything before you, so all you need to do is sit back, relax, and watch the oil painting rise up to reveal your widescreen TV!
What To Pack
For a quintessential London look, embrace British designers in this look that will look beautiful in photos at Celeste!