A Jewel in London’s Hospitality Crown, Claridge’s Offers Sparkle and Substance

Claridge's London
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Hollywood Golden Age actor Spencer Tracy once famously proclaimed, “I don’t want to go to heaven. I want to go to Claridge’s!” Good old Spencer and I have something in common. At the risk of sounding morbid, my note to myself after my first night staying at the gorgeously renovated Claridge’s hotel in London was, “Plan to haunt Claridge’s in the afterlife. I want Claridge’s to be my forever.” 

As the first to stay in the newly renovated ‘Mews Terrace’ suite at Claridge’s, I couldn’t contain my shock as my travel companion and I toured the space upon arrival. A beautifully carved wooden door down a hushed corridor of the 7th floor opened onto an enormous suite, replete with a gleaming black baby grand piano, an Art Deco style bar, and a massive terrace that offered sweeping views of central London. Jaw meet floor. Filled with light, sophisticated art, creative chandeliers, and an astonishing grey-marbled bathroom with heated floors, the suite is enough to put one into sensorial overload, but wait, there’s more. 

With 269 keys total, the hotel can operate at a total capacity of 400 guests, something that is quite likely given the surge of summer tourism. I envy each and every one of them as they explore all of the amenities that Claridge’s has to offer.

Claridge's ArtSpace Cafe 2
Claridge's ArtSpace Cafe | CLARIDGE'S

A Bit of History

What started out as a single-terraced house on Brook Street called Mivart’s Hotel in 1812 later became the sprawling five-star luxury hotel Claridge’s after it was acquired and expanded by William and Marianne Claridge in 1854. Its previous incarnation as Mivart’s already attracted high-profile clientele thanks to its prime location in London’s most recherche neighborhood, but after the larger and even posher Claridge’s arrived, so too did royalty. With a superlative reputation for service and known for its incredible Art Deco interiors, the hotel attracted the likes of Empress Eugenie of France, Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, King George IV, who kept a suite on permanent reserve, and many other heads of state. Nowadays, Claridge’s celebrates its royal heritage with the spectacularly decorated ‘Royal Suite’, which is appointed with elegant Victorian flourishes, gilded touches, and even a medallion attached to the bed that can be changed out to match the guest’s family coat of arms (should the guest be from royal lineage, as many of them are).

As the hotel grew to become one of London’s most luxurious destinations, it quickly became a favorite of celebrities like Audrey Hepburn and Carey Grant (during my stay I ran into Ellen Degeneres in the lobby, no big deal), as well as a fashionable crowd that has over time included Diane von Furstenberg, Jackie Onassis, and Cara Delevigne.

Claridge's Lobby
Claridge's Lobby | CLARIDGE'S

State of the Art

Claridge’s long history has provided the opportunity for many of the world’s most accomplished interior designers – from the pioneer of the Art Deco movement Oswald Milne to David Linley, the nephew of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II – to make their mark on the hotel’s interiors with special projects and renovations.  Guests with synesthesia will have the time of their lives experiencing the detail work of the decor, which is so nuanced and textured as to offer continual founts of discovery the more you look around and notice things. 

Art is a primary focus of the hotel, evidenced by the immense Dale Chihuly sculpture in the hotel’s main restaurant The Foyer, the gallery of “talking heads” portraits on the ground floor by David Downton that feature the hotel’s most famous guests, the Annie Maurice murals and stained glass art in The Painter’s Room bar, the proliferation of Damien Hirst pieces in the top-floor penthouse (as well as a stained glass creation that sits above a beautiful staircase), and the hotel’s recently opened Artspace Cafe, which features a rotation of exhibitions year-round. I was drawn to the delightful details all around me. I was especially taken by a charmingly antiquated cloakroom near The Fumoir bar that remains untouched since its original construction. 

In the ‘Mews Terrace’ suite where I stayed, I photographed the glass bauble-decorated bedside hanging lamps, the diamond-shaped patterns etched into doors, the cobalt blue glass mirror in the hall, and the gazelle-horn lamp tables in the living room. In the top-floor penthouse, I was mesmerized by bathroom faucets that glowed from within, an immense movable couch that could rotate to take in any view of the city that you desire, a glass-encased grand piano on the terrace, and more. I could have looked for weeks and still not seen all of the delicious visual treasures that the hotel has in store for its guests.

David Downton Talking Heads Gallery
David Downton 'Talking Heads' Gallery | CLARIDGE'S

Suite Life

Clearly, I can wax eloquent about the interiors of this magical hotel for ages. Suffice it to say, it offers a rare and hearty examination of the collision of art and luxury. The rooms are made for ultimate comfort and enjoyability. A Murano pendant hovered elegantly over our immense dining table, while underfoot our feet were caressed by plush and artful rugs inspired by the work of Christian Berard. We laid to sleep at night in emperor beds and were greeted by the morning sun that poured into the windows of our generously sized bedroom seating area. Room amenities were of the upscale variety, including a Bose Bluetooth speaker, a Dyson hairdryer, and an Illy coffee machine. 

During our stay, we were given a butler who was on-call 24 hours a day, the charming Michael, who attended to our every need, which on occasion called for an emergency blazer pressing, an armful of Coke Zeros, luggage assistance, and more. The staff at the hotel went above and beyond, although I like to believe that I am on the low-maintenance side of things. 

As a pro-tip, I recommend requesting a room on the backside of the hotel, which faces out over central London. From our immense terrace, we could see The Shard, the London Eye, and Big Ben with ease, which added a surreal “pinch me” quality to our stay.

Claridge's - Mayfair Terrace Suite 3
Claridge's 'Mayfair Terrace' Suite | CLARIDGE'S

Food Matters

When it comes dining at Claridge’s, you’re really spoiled for choice as each bar and restaurant at the hotel isn’t just a nice on-site amenity but a London institution. Take The Fumoir bar, for example. Not only is it one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen in my life, with a collision of 1930s flourishes, Art Deco style, and oversized black and white portraiture, but it’s also intimate – the kind of bar that attracts only those “in the know” (which is probably why it’s so popular with celebrities).

The main restaurant, The Foyer and adjoining The Reading Room, serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner and live music entertainment in the evening, and is a beautiful mash-up of chinoiserie and Victorian qualities with touches of modernity. It’s been around for over 150 years and remains a favorite spot for afternoon tea or a business lunch with the world’s jet set. The Painter’s Room is a small, hip bar on the ground floor that features a stunning pink marble bar and gilded elements that are a perfect blend of 1930s panache and 1970s cool. Meanwhile, a quick walk down the block will land you at Artspace, which just opened in February, and serves incredible pastries and sweet treats courtesy of the talented skills of Executive Pastry Chef Thibault Hauchard.

Claridge's The Fumoir Bar
Claridge's The Fumoir Bar | CLARIDGE'S

R&R

When jet lag, sprinting around London to see the sights, and a bad back compounded to result in my body feeling broken and exhausted, I decided to book in at Claridge’s Spa. Imbued with strong Japanese character, the spa had a long menu of tempting services, but I only had eyes for a full-body massage. A slight hiccup in my booking occurred,  but in the grand scheme of things I can’t exactly call this a complaint. It’s just a noteworthy fact. It afforded me the opportunity to see how things played out when they didn’t go according to plan. Naturally, the incredible staff at the spa worked diligently to upgrade my experience and they went out of their way to ensure that the hiccup was instantly smoothed. 

It was here that I experienced the best massage of my life, thanks to the very capable hands of my therapist, Melda. I feel like she snapped my misaligned back right into place like Lego blocks. It was miraculous. I told Melda (and I meant every word of it) that every time I’m in London in the future, no matter where I’m staying, I will be seeking her out for an appointment. Melda, you are a gem!

Pro-tip: If you don’t have an appointment at the spa but are a guest of the hotel you can still take advantage of the spa’s luxurious sauna.

Claridge's Spa swimming pool 1
Claridge's Spa | CLARIDGE'S

Location, Location, Location

If you are finally able to tear yourself away from this magical hotel, Claridge’s happens to be ideally situated close to many of London’s premiere attractions. We were a hop, skip, and a short Uber ride away from Covent Garden, Carnaby Street, Buckingham Palace, Hyde Park, Harrods, and so much more. In every room, Claridge’s also provides a runner’s map and a list of nearby locations to visit, making a city venture feel more like a bespoke experience.

To make a reservation at Claridge’s visit Claridges.co.uk .

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