By | February 28 2014
Four Seasons at Park Lane
Offering one hell of a view over London’s famous Hyde Park, Park Lane Four Seasons sits on one of London’s most illustrious streets. Following a refurbishment in the early noughties courtesy of Reardon Smith Architects, the ’70s build reopened with a newly added two-storey glazed extension, a rooftop terrace and Amaranto restaurant.
Described by the hotel as a "single destination with three different areas – restaurant, bar and lounge," Amaranto serves contemporary Italian fare as well as a range of high quality wines and beverages. Choose from the cosy dining room or the conservatory, which extends out as a terrace for al fresco dining in the summer. The food is authentic and uncomplicated: Nduja served with warm Ratte potato foam and Salsa Verde, and tagliolino with Scottish langoustine, English asparagus and lemon.
The lounge is reserved for smaller bites, or the hotel’s trademark Italian afternoon tea, La Dolce Vita. However, for something more atmospheric head to the bar. A flush of red and moodily lit, the bar at Park Lane Four Seasons is impossibly romantic and has a wine list of more than 250 wines. As expected the wine list is focused on fine wines of Italy all of which are available to drink by the glass. The wine list is 26-pages long and great bottles such as a 2005 Bellavista ‘Grande Cuvée Rosé Franciacorta’; 2005 Gaja ‘Sperss’; and a £4,300 Jeraboam of 2000 Poderi Aldo Conterno, Barolo ‘Gran Bussia’ Riserva grace the list. Bellissimo!
Hamilton Place, London, W1J 7DR; 020 7499 0888; www.fourseasons.com
45 Park Lane
The famous curved-face of 45 Park Lane – once a lowly office building – is now one of London’s most opulent hotels and has been since 2011. Just like its Park Lane competitors, the hotel has great views overlooking Hyde Park and beyond supremely enjoyed from the art deco penthouse. In acknowledgment of the British arts, each suite displays artworks from some top British artists such as Sir Peter Blake, Damien Hirst and Joe Tilson.
There is plenty to occupy guests: from a fully-stocked library, to the exclusive Dorchester Spa and the free-loan purple Brompton bicycles. Of course even more importantly, it’s imperative that a good hotel has good drinking and dining spots: introducing Bar 45 and modern American steak restaurant, CUT. The latter is Austrian chef Wolfgang Puck’s award-winning eatery, which he brought over following the success of his Beverly Hill restaurant. Combining classic French cooking styles with Asian and Californian influences, the food includes fine cuts of beef, fresh lobster and plenty of seasonal fish dishes, all of which are enhanced by the excellent wine list. Configured by Head Sommelier, Vanessa Cinti, the list plays homage to great American wines, including producers such as Mondavi, Grgich Hills, Colgin and Harlan, Willamette Valley, and even Wolfgang Puck’s own vineyard, "Beckstoffer Georges III Vineyard" in Napa Valley.
45 Park Lane, Mayfair, London, W1K 1PN; 020 7493 4545; www.dorchestercollection.com
With past guests including Sir Winston Churchill, Frank Sinatra, Maria Callas, Claude Monet and Katherine Hepburn, a stay at The Savoy puts you in great company. The Five-Star hotel is located on the iconic Strand in London and is itself an historic landmark having opened over a century ago in the late 1880s. The 20th Century Art Deco interior is striking and holds 195 guest rooms and 73 suites. Butlers and concierges are on hand to make every guest’s stay runs as smoothly as possible.
Dining at The Savoy includes Gordon Ramsay’s Savoy Grill, Simpson’s-In-The-Strand and the newly unveiled, Kaspar’s Seafood Bar & Grill. There is also The American Bar serving 1920s cocktails in plush surrounds and the Beaufort Bar where cabaret performances are shown regularly. Kaspar’s – named after the in-house cat that lived in the hotel over a century ago – serves up excellent seafood in a glamorously low-key setting. Heading the kitchen is talent head chef, James Pare, who presents fish and seafood in its purest form. Signature dishes include Smoked Brown Shrimp and Eel Cocktail, Roasted Oxtail Consommé, and Lobster Club Sandwich and Chips. The specials board changes daily and tends to display unusual, and classic, daily market catches sourced from local suppliers.
Strand, London, WC2R 0EU; 020 7836 4343; www.fairmont.com
Housed in a beautiful Grade II listed building in London’s opulent Mayfair, Claridge’s has long been one of the city’s most prestigious hotels. A place of grandeur and quintessential British style, with glistening chandeliers and glossy black and white checked floors, it makes sense that this was once Queen Victoria and Prince Albert’s choice of entertaining venue.
Undergoing a scrupulous restoration in 1996, headed by celebrated architect, Thierry Despont – whose portfolio of work includes the refurbishment of the Statue of Liberty – the hotel was transformed to its former glory. With the refurbishment, Despont introduced new spaces, one being Gordon Ramsay at Claridge’s restaurant, that has since closed. Other areas developed during the redesign include the Foyer – Claridge’s temporary dining spot until a new restaurant is brought in – Reading Room and the Fumoir. The latter is known for its clever cocktails, whilst the bar holds a vast selection of prized champagnes. The Foyer and Reading room serve food all-day, but the award-winning afternoon tea is what’s got everyone talking. Opt for the Champagne afternoon tea, choose from nearly 40 teas, a delicious selection of finger sandwiches, delicate French pastries, freshly baked raisin and apple scones and an effervescing flute of Laurent Perrier.
Executive chef, Martyn Nail and Claridge’s sommelier, Charles Segond, launched a series of wine dinners where guests are invited to dine with an esteemed vintner and savour the many wines from the chosen vineyard. Past dinners include Chateau Haut-Brion and Billecart-Salmon.
49 Brook Street, Mayfair, London, W1K 4HR; 020 7629 8860; www.claridges.co.uk
First opening its resplendent doors in 1931, The Dorchester hotel is a name that is synonymous with grace, sophistication and luxury. Other than the lavish rooms and indulgent spa, The Dorchester is a dining mecca with four exemplary restaurants. China Tang is the first and is the brainchild of Sir David Tang – founder of China Clubs in Hong Kong, Peking in Singapore, and the lifestyle brand Shanghai Tang – and serves authentic Cantonese food such as Peking Duck and Dim Sum. For a more relaxed dining experience try The Promenade. Guests can enjoy afternoon tea whilst being serenaded by the tinkling of a piano. Another nod to great British food is The Grill restaurant, which knocks up modern British dishes like Grilled Dover Sole and Black Angus beef chop.
That’s not all, the final and most exclusive of them all, is the eponymously named Alain Ducasse at The Dorchester. With a colossal 19 Michelin stars to his name, chef du moment, Alain Ducasse, has won this restaurant an impressive three Michelin-Stars. Alain Ducasse’s culinary whiz is founded in classical French cooking and each dish he creates resembles a work of art. We recommend the fillet of halibut with Irish sea urchin and sautéed baby squid or the fillet of beef rossini with crunchy cos lettuce and périgueux sauce. If you didn’t know already, it’s worth bearing in mind that Ducasse has his own ‘incroyable’ chocolate manufacturer in Paris, some of which is served at the restaurant.
When it comes to drinks, there’s a great selection of ‘vin au verre’ such as Dom Perignon Champagne, 2007 Chassagne-Montrachet from Domaine Fontaine-Gagnard and 1996 Saint Estephe from Chateau Cos d’Estournel. And on the 37.5cl carafe menu there is the option to splash out on nectarous 1998 Chateau d’Yquem Sauternes at £145.
53 Park Lane, Mayfair, London, W1K 1QA; 0207 319 7102; www.dorchestercollection.com
On the corner of Haymarket and Suffolk Place, in the epicentre of London and within walking distance of hotspots such as Mayfair, the West End and the National Portrait Gallery is this charming townhouse hotel, The Haymarket Hotel. Spread across four floors, the hotel fuses contemporary design and homely British style to create a hotel that is as informal as it is special.
For food, guests can head to Brumus bar and restaurant: the roast scallops come on a bed of black pudding with artichoke purée, mains include veal schnitzel with lemon butter and finish with the sticky apple tarte tatin with vanilla ice cream. A decent wine to enjoy with your food is a certainty as the list showcases great champagnes such as a bottle of 2005 Cristal for £280 or for an aperitif a glass of NV Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin Yellow Label for £15.50. From the selection of fine and rare wines highlights include a 1999 Sassicaia, a 2004 Côte Rôtie and a 1986 Puligny-Montrachet. There is also a good selection of Cognac and Armagnac from producers Hennessy Riachrd, and a 1968 Maxime Trijol Petit Champagne.
Suffolk Place, London, SW1Y 4HX; www.firmdalehotels.com
One Leicester Street
Deep in the throes of Soho is one of our favourite London boutique hotels, One Leicester Street. Surrounded by the best of London, it’s a short walk to shopping havens Oxford Circus or Covent Garden, and sits on the doorstep of London’s thriving theatre district. The cool blue, grey and pale wood interior makes One Leicester Street a sanctuary within the midst of the relentless West End.
Attracting locals as much as visitors is the newly instated bar, TMF (Talented Mr Fox). Originally starting as a pop up, this quirky bar from Matt Whiley has just been made a permanent fixture. Whiley is one of the guys behind London’s Purl Bar and The Worship Street Whistling Shop – two of London’s most innovative cocktail bars – and this newest venture is only confirming his cocktail dexterity. Heady concoctions include a bloody mary containing clarified tomato juice, vodka distilled with pigs blood, and black pudding.
One Leicester Street won its first Michelin star in 2014 thanks to head chef, Tom Harris. His approach to cooking is to keep things simple but refined, using seasonal local ingredients of the highest quality: think turbot, salsify and little gem, or Tamworth (pork) with white beans and kale. To accompany this elegant British fare there are some excellent wines such as 2009 Nyetimber blanc de blanc, 2011 ‘Les Aires’ Glovallon, and 2007 ‘Coteaux de Tupin’ Domaine Stephan.
One Leicester Street, London, WC2H 7BL; 020 3301 8020; www.oneleicesterstreet.com
Former government building, Queen Anne’s Chambers, has been the InterContinental London Westminster’s home since November 2012. Each room is stylish and modern, with understated British touches and is fully equip with necessities for a comfortable and luxurious stay, such as an exclusive gym for guests, as well as the Blue Boar Smokehouse Restaurant serving refined American fare, the Blue Boar Bar, The Lobby Lounge and Emmeline’s.
The Blue Boar Smokehouse restaurant serves British sourced American food such as smoked pulled meats and indulgent sides. The food is dirty and delicious, but is served in a ‘fine dining’ manner; imagine sticky ribs in a silver server on white table cloths. The aforementioned ribs are one of Blue Boar’s specialities and are sticky, smoky and tender.
There are drinks to suit all tastes, with a lengthy cocktail list introducing curious concoctions and an impressive selection of champagne cocktails, such as the signature "Blue Boar Fizz" which contains sugar cube soaked in a wild blackberry liquor, cognac and Angostura bitters, topped with champagne, and a collection of Blue Boar Tinis, such as a "Rose and Lychee Martini" with vodka, lychee juice, and rose syrup finished with a touch of Peychaud’s bitters. There’s plenty to pick from if you fancy a bottle of wine: a NV Krug, 2010 René Monnier Meursault ‘le Limozin’, and a 2007 Pierre Naigeon Bonnes Mares Grand Cru.
22-28 Broadway, London; www.ihg.com