Having closed its doors for 18 months at the end of 2013 for a lavish revamp, the Lanesborough’s unveiling last year was one of the most highly anticipated among London hotel aficionados. Costing an estimated £80 million (exact figures have been safely guarded), the Grand Dame’s new look is reassuringly as plush as it gets and its starting rate of £590 per night, room only, sets it at one of the most (if not the most) expensive hotels in the capital.
While the thick claret carpets, gold Sienna marble and oversized chandeliers would probably not score highly with the hipster brigade, the new look will certainly impress those after a touch of old-fashioned luxury. If you want quirky, witty surroundings, however, then pack you’re your bags and head to east London. The Lanesborough is as far as it gets from streamlined, pared back and minimal – all those descriptions that many newer, and albeit cooler, luxury hotels have as their USP. But what it lacks in cool-factor, it makes up for in comfort and exceptional service.
This is maximalist and proud with the interiors designed by the master of lavishness himself, the late designer Alverto Pinto. After his death in 2012, his sister Linda Pinto took up the mantle and the result is an essay in sumptuousness. Public spaces are grand and impressive – expect gleaming marble floors, oil paintings and plenty of gilding (in fact, 2,100 books of gold leaf were used to dress the ceilings throughout). Bedrooms are palatial – with canopied beds, chinoiserie textiles, mahogany furniture and lacquered lamps giving a stately-home feel.
From the Roja Dove toiletries in the bathrooms to the personal butler that all of the 50 rooms and 43 suites come with – The Lanesborough offers the very essence of a pampering hotel experience. Cementing this even further will be the new mega-spa, which is slated to open in spring 2017.
Throughout is an attention to detail that borders on the obsessive. The revamp saw the hotel stripped back to its shell so that Pinto could thoroughly reflect the building’s architectural heritage (it is one of London’s most revered Regency landmarks) while also incorporating the latest in technological innovations. Each room, for instance, has an iPad with services on tap, remote control curtains and even a TV hidden behind a painting.
During the renovation, the ‘haute’ design team employed a team of artisans – think embroiderers, crystal specialists, cabinetmakers, gilders and mirror specialists – using age-old techniques, known to be used in decorating palaces. Over 300 people were involved in the day-to-day transformation of the hotel’s 93 rooms and the result is knock-out. Particular focus has been paid to the restoring of the original ceilings and cornicing, with plaster craftsmen Locker & Riley’s producing a unique plasterwork design for each room.
One of the highlights is the Céleste restaurant – found in an elegant, powder-blue dining room with glass ceiling – so that you feel like you are eating in a Wedgwood vase. Here, executive chef Florian Favario, with chef patron Eric Frechon (one of Paris’ most esteemed chefs), conjure up a Michelin-star menu. From the simply described – but beautifully multi-layered – French Onion starter to the Scottish Salmon (which comes with sautéed cabbage and ginger butter) this is fine dining turned up a notch.
Perfect for those who want to finesse their social standing, and cementing the hotel’s nod towards tradition, is its newest collaboration with Debrett’s, the authority on etiquette. A full-day course and overnight stay (from £1,875 per person) offers a guide to the minutiae of British behaviour, dress codes and social traditions. Over lunch in Céleste, you’ll also be taught about formal dining etiquette. Small talk is included.
A Deluxe Queen room starts from £590 per night on a room only basis. www.lanesborough.com
A version of this article is also published on The Arbuturian