At the top end of Knightsbridge with rooms overlooking Hyde Park, The Wellesley occupies one of the city’s smartest postcodes. For tourists, it’s a dream with the Victoria & Albert Museum, Harrods and central London all within an easy, if not walkable distance, and unlike a lot of hotels in the area, it’s boutique-sized, lavish, but homely.
Guests enter into a slim, gleaming white marble hallway hung with pearly pendant lights and edged with columns. The building – an Edwardian townhouse – was an entrance to Hyde Park Corner until 1932 and then the renowned jazz venue, Pizza on the Park; it became the Wellesley in 2010. When we arrive, there’s a pianist playing, and against the backdrop of ornate Art Deco lines, it’s feels if we’ve stepped into the jazz-age, or at least, a very convincing stage set. Without a fur shawl, dress or cigarette holder, we feel slightly underdressed, but the staff aren’t at all snooty. Our personal butler chats merrily all the way to our room and seems almost as excited as us to open the door.
There are just 36 rooms in total; ours is a beautiful suite, decorated in soft creams and gold with elaborate twenties-style doors separating the bedroom and living area. The bathroom is as large as the bedroom with a shower and standalone bathtub, piles of fluffy white towels and Hermes products. We’re obsessed with the robes and exceptionally soft, pillowy slippers, and the bed is exceptionally comfortable. There are high-tech touches too such as Handy phones for guests to take with them outside the hotel as a digital guidebook, a smart TV with a good choice of free films (surprisingly, rare), electronic blinds and even a small television screen at the end of the bath. Even without a spa, it’s worth checking in as early as possible to relax, nibble fruit from the complimentary platter and marvel at the silence.
Downstairs, by the hotel entrance, is the The Crystal Bar, which boasts just four bar stools and lingers with the smell of cigar smoke from Europe’s largest hotel humidor across the corridor. The cigar lounge is old-fashioned, reminiscent of a gentleman’s club with black lacquered wood walls and glass cabinets, with an adjoining terrace surrounded by high hedges and equipped with outdoor fireplaces.
Dining options are all Italian either in the Jazz Lounge or the more formal Oval Restaurant headed by chef Sebastiano Cioffi. We’re there on a Sunday night, and have the entire Oval restaurant to ourselves, which is a little disconcerting at first, but we soon relax into it when the wine’s poured and the food begins to arrive. The soy-glazed octopus with saffron potatoes and sea bass are delicious, delicate dishes, paired perfectly with a selection of wines by the friendly sommelier. Breakfast is again a quiet affair, but less impressive in terms of the selection.
For those with more time, a Rolls-Royce is on call for glamorous shopping and cultural trips around the city. Sadly, for us, it’s back onto the tube.
For more information on The Wellesley, see here.
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