In the heart of exclusive Mayfair, Claridge’s is near the embassies and perfect for high-end boutiques, but this quiet area of town is easy journeys from all the major sights too. Bond Street is your nearest tube station - but if you can afford to stay here, you’ll might prefer to get the top-hats at the entrance to summon a black cab instead.
The apartment-sized Diane Von Furstenberg suite is a stunner - more vivid colours than you might expect at Claridge’s, but blended so as never to become merely brash. The other stars are the 19 Linley Classic and Couture Suites, designed in 2007 and 2008. Claridge’s rooms are elegant across the price range, however - individually decorated but broadly following two decorative schemes: the hallmark art deco style or a more traditional Victorian version. All mod cons (call buttons for service, free Wi-Fi) are matched by fresh flowers and charming period details (the old-fashioned flush chains caught my eye).
Formerly the turning circle for guests’ horse-drawn carriages, the entrance was covered by an 18-foot-high ceiling in 1929 and transformed into one of London’s finest hotel lobbies. Cool and crisp in black and white, it is kept from becoming overly strict by some silver eccentricities and a crazy Dale Chihuly blown-glass confection hanging over the dining area called the Foyer. The grand staircase to the right is a favourite for wedding snaps, but reception is a bit tucked away to the left. Check out the spectacular Ladies’ Cloakroom if you can - despite my gender, I was allowed a peek, and it’s a knock-out.
Eating and drinking
The main restaurant is Gordon Ramsay at Claridge’s, still one of London’s best fine-dining experiences. You’ll need to book ahead, even if you’re resident at the hotel. I’m absolutely in love with the tiny, atmospheric Fumoir Bar, just off the lobby to the right by the Ramsay restaurant, with its Lalique glass over the door and mirrors etched by Basil Ionides. Authentic 1930s cocktails are served, including irresistible Swizzles, Daisies and Juleps. The principal bar, designed by David Collins, serves posh snacks (from sushi to fish and chips), Champagne and cocktails to guests and well-heeled locals after work. Straight off the lobby and directly in front of the entrance, the Foyer and adjoining Reading Room serve breakfast, afternoon tea, drinks and lunches, beneath that pale and extraordinarily complex Dale Chihuly glasswork.
Designed by Lynne Hunt, the Olympus Fitness and Beauty Suite on the 6th floor is lovely - all the wood and the sprung floor make it feel more like a dance studio than a place for grunts and groans, although there’s the full array of weights and cardiovascular machines and weights, plus TV screens. The Beauty side has a treatment menu aiming to invoke 1930s Hollywood glamour: treatments include ‘The Greta Garbo’ should you wish to be pampered in seclusion, or a gruelling his ’n’ hers regime of champers and massage called ‘The Bogey & Bacall’.
Reception is tucked away to the left of entrance and I found things a little chaotic there when I was last in. Otherwise, it’s smooth, old-fashioned quality from the top-hatted doormen school. I’m a total sucker for old-style cage lifts – and at Claridge’s they come with an extremely charming operator, who has his own padded couch.
Who stays there
This is a treat hotel - a place where romantic couples, celebs and fans of posh shopping come to live the fantasy of 1930s decadence.
Don’t forget to add VAT and the ‘discretionary service charge’ of 5% to rates. Special offers often add extra frills, such as a Champagne breakfast or a shopping basket.
- Business Centre
- Fitness Centre
- High-Speed Internet
- Room Service
- Special occasions
Pros & Cons
- Discreet mod cons and fresh flowers
- The sweet little Fumoir Bar
- Glamorous classic design
- Tucked away reception
- 'Discretionary service charge'