Long before the The Lanesborough became a stalwart of London's hotel scene, the neoclassical mansion began life in 1719 as an elegant country home belonging to James Lane, the second and last Viscount Lanesborough.
It later became St George’s Hospital, before its transformation into a five-star hotel in 1991 under the Rosewood group. July 2015 marked the beginning of a new era for the hotel, with The Lanesborough reopening as part of Oetker Collection’s masterpiece hotels, after an extensive 18-month renovation.
The renovation involved the hotel being taken back to its shell, and transformed by Cabinet Alberto Pinto following the vision of late interior designer Alberto Pinto. The remodelling honoured the building’s architectural heritage, so the decor is grandiose and brimming with hallmarks of the Regency era ― ornate gold gilding, white Baroque-style cornicing, plush carpets and classical Greek revival styles.
One could be forgiven for assuming such a high-end institution might come with an ever-so-slightly-fusty atmosphere, yet The Lanesborough happily avoids such cliches. The doormen greet you with genuine cordiality, while check-in is friendly, down-to-earth and personal. The fact they offer a complimentary drink while they take your details certainly helps.
Overlooking leafy Hyde Park, The Lanesborough is located in London’s cultural heart, with major tourist attractions, including Buckingham Palace, the V&A, the National History Museum and Harrods a 10-minute walk away. The hotel is opposite Piccadilly Underground station, which makes the rest of the city incredibly accessible.
The Lanesborough is the only hotel in London to offer a round-the-clock, dedicated butler service. This includes complimentary pressing of clothing upon arrival (one outfit per person); daily complimentary water and fresh fruit; and a UK and international newspaper on request.
Thanks to its unique location, all rooms come with impressive views of some of the city's leading landmarks. However, the beauty outside your window will battle for attention with the unique Regency-style decor inside each room and suite, which all have luxurious interiors and impressive, responsive technology controlled by in-room tablets. Using your tablet, you can open and close curtains; control the lights; book room service; check the news and weather; and control your privacy settings. Essentially you can manage your affairs from your bed or sofa.
Amenities include opulent flannel robes, thick flatform slippers, a nail kit, shoe brush, hair dryer and well stocked minibar. There are no tea and coffee-making facilities or irons, but that's what your butler is for, right? Bathroom products are made exclusively for the hotel by Roja Parfums.
Some of our favourite design elements in the rooms include the placement of the TVs, whether hidden behind artworks ― very Bond-esque ― or in the bathroom mirrors which, alongside the underfloor heating, turns brushing your teeth and getting washed into an extra enjoyable experience.
Probably the most friendly and unassuming staff we’ve encountered in this type of hotel. Two butlers greeted us on the third floor to show us around our room (OK, one would probably have been enough) offering a complimentary drink into the bargain. When the restaurant team heard that our train out of London had been cancelled, they arranged a late check-out, while the concierge team were only too happy to answer our barrage of questions.
It should come as no surprise that such a prestigious establishment attracts a monied and stylish clientele, both old and young. Most of the private sports cars parked outside have a Middle East licence plate.
Shay Cooper joined The Lanesborough as executive chef two years ago. Formerly chef-patron of Julie's in Holland Park and executive chef at the Goring in Belgravia, Cooper hopes to bring his previous, Michelin-starred success to The Lanesborough Grill. In a powder-blue atrium with Greek-style mouldings, Cooper serves up a modern, seasonal, British menu. The attention to detail when it comes to intolerances and allergies is incredible, with the pastry chef even whizzing up a bespoke concoction to satisfy a particularly complicated set of intolerances.
As well as the Grill, there’s also a fully heated cigar lounge and the Library Bar, where you won't be shushed for talking ― in fact there’s a lively atmosphere, especially on the nights with live music. If you’d prefer healthy over hearty, The Lanesborough Club & Spa restaurant offers smart snacking in private members’ club-style surroundings.
Highs and lows
If you’re looking for a hotel that fuses historic London with modern sophistication and comfort, then this is it. From the bright Regency-style rooms to the super-luxe spa, your quintessential London stay can be found here, right in the centre of the city.
Less of a low and more an inconvenience that can’t be avoided due to the structural mapping of the old building, there is no direct lift to the spa. This simply means you need to waltz through the lobby in your dressing gown to get to the salon, spa and fitness centre. Of course, you can always change there.
Definitely try to make time to explore the spa, particularly the hydropool, which will relax your entire body after a long day of shopping and sightseeing. While the hydropool is mixed, the sauna, steam room and experience showers are separated. The women's changing facilities are impressive, with every styling product you could possibly need.
When it comes to London luxury, The Lanesborough does not disappoint. But more than the stuffy institution you might imagine, there’s a family atmosphere here that, along with the superb facilities, really marks it out as one of a kind in the capital.
The bottom line
A deluxe room starts from £1,350 ($1,625) and suites from £2,100. Breakfast is extra, but well worth paying for. The vegan shakshuka is a worthy alternative to their famous full English. Check in from 3pm, check out by midday; www.oetkercollection.com/hotels/the-lanesborough/
This review was conducted at the invitation of the hotel and reflects standards during this time, services may change in the future.