London is an expensive city, with some expensive hotels. For the lucky few, a stay in a luxurious West End hotel is just another stop before heading on to New York or Dubai for the next high-powered business meeting/paid holiday.
Diana Memorial Fountain
But you don’t need to have the six-figure salary to experience a little bit of finesse. One of the pleasures of walking round London’s Mayfair district is simply popping in to the hotels on offer for a nosy round or, if you’re feeling flush, a drink at the bar. There’s nothing in London, or even the world, to match the very best Mayfair hotels.
Hotels like the iconic Claridges, a name which has passed into the lexicon as a byword for a peculiar kind of traditional English grandiosity. Steeped in history and dripping with the spoils of the Empire’s glory days, Claridges is often referred to as Buckingham Palace’s extension. The hotel, founded in 1812 as Mivart’s Hotel, gained its current name in 1854 under new proprietors Mr. and Mrs. Claridge.
It also began to earn its reputation as the go-to place of accommodation for European aristocracy. So synonymous with royalty was the esteemed hotel, that Britain declared suite 212 a part of Yugoslavian territory for one day during World War II, in order to allow the Yugoslav heir-to-the-throne, Crown Prince Alexander, to be born on ‘home’ soil. Now a popular residence for rich and famous, it might be just beyond reach for the average visitor to Mayfair. But don’t despair: set aside fifty quid or so and you can have a starter and a glass of water at Claridge’s Gordon Ramsay-run restaurant…
From a light lunch at Claridges, it’s a short walk over to Park Lane and the revered Dorchester Hotel. Overlooking Hyde Park, the Dorchester opened its grand doors in 1931. Designer Sir Robert McAlpine made it his aim to create an ultramodern, efficient hotel. He did away with internal pillars, creating that ‘sense of space’ which is so clichéd now, but was a revelation back then. He achieved this using the new wonder material, concrete, which earned the hotel a reputation as one of the sturdiest buildings in London – no small potatoes when it came to surviving the Blitz ten years later. Both Churchill and Eisenhower made use of the Dorchester during the war. Take afternoon tea at the Dorchester for a taste of 20th Century pomp and ceremony.
After that, you’ll have time to pop your head in to another grand old hotel. The Millenium Hotel on Grosvenor Square is one of the most elegant you’ll see. Built out of an 18th Century townhouse, the Georgian façade and Doric columns retain that classic West End look, whilst the interior combines new and old in thrilling fashion. Of the three, the Millenium is slightly more affordable, so if you’re feeling like splashing out on a West End weekend, but don’t want to pay top whack, think about staying here. Visit their site to discover more Mayfair hotels.