By John O’Ceallaigh
One niche journalism specialism I’ve developed over the years is appraising the world’s best hotel suites. It’s a tough job but someone’s got to do it, etc. Anyway, I’ve been very lucky to experience many of these settings either through extensive tours or overnight stays: I’ve been wowed by the likes of the Ty Warner Penthouse at the Four Seasons Hotel New York and The Muraka in the Maldives, where somewhat unsettlingly I was the first guest ever to sleep in its master bedroom five metres below sea level. It’s also safe to say I’ve personally stayed overnight in and toured more of London’s most luxurious, expensive hotel suites than any other luxury-travel journalist or consultant so I thought it might be helpful to provide a review of my favourites. I’ve slept over and had the full VIP experience in the ones listed immediately below; beneath those entries, you’ll see recommendations for other London hotel suites I’ve toured. In no particular order, here are what I consider to be the best hotel suites in London.
The Mews, The Connaught
A house within a hotel, two-bedroom, two-storey The Mews was a private Mayfair residence before it was absorbed into The Connaught’s inventory. Beautifully styled by London’s Blair Associates Architecture and tastefully populated with high-calibre art and furniture – a sculpture by Louise Bourgeois, a Marc Newson-designed plinth that supports a huge Taschen book on the works of David Hockney – it is genuinely homely despite its scale, or perhaps because of it.
Rather than lodging in a hotel suite, guests will feel they are very much in a residence; one with its own private entrance on street level as well as with access directly through the hotel. In the living area, there are two fireplaces to cosy up beside, a grand piano to tinkle and games consoles on which to happily squander an evening (as I did). The Mews guests will also be able to arrange priority bookings at The Connaught’s lauded Connaught Bar and three-Michelin-starred Helene Darroze at The Connaught.
The Mews at The Connaught
223sq metres; sleeps 4; from £12,000 per night, including breakfast and transfers.
Manor House Suite, Rosewood London
Time flies – though I still think of Rosewood London in Holborn as one of London’s newer luxury hotels, it actually opened up in 2013. Still, Tony Chi’s interiors look as good as ever and it remains one of the most handsome hotels in the city. Its Manor House is easily one of London’s most beautiful suites too.
Feeling very much like a proper apartment rather than a standard hotel suite, there’s something of an old-school gentlemen’s club vibe about the place with that palette of cigar-brown and taupe and all those leather chairs. For nights in, there’s a kitchenette where guests can prep snaps (or their butler will be happy to take care of things) and a dining area where parties of eight can dig into room service or afternoon tea (the Rosewood’s version, with creations inspired by temporary art exhibitions being held at major galleries throughout London, is one of the best in the country). Another standout feature in the one-bedroom suite: an immense circular bathtub carved from a single block of Carrera marble.
Also worth noting is that the Manor House Suite can be linked to six additional rooms to form the Manor House Wing, which comes with its own private entrance and lift and even its own postcode. Rosewood’s other signature suites are worth investigating too. I also had a fantastic stay in the hotel’s Garden House suite, which very unusually for London includes an expansive enclosed outdoor space which offers decent city views and is otherwise entirely private.
Manor House Suite at Rosewood London
185sq metres; sleeps 3; from £10,000 per night
Shangri-La Suite, Shangri-La at The Shard, London
While some things are subjective, it’s indisputable that the one-bed Shangri-La Suite, occupying a stretch of the 39th floor of the Shard, Western Europe’s tallest building, provides the best view offered by any luxury hotel suite in London. It stretches from the towers of Canary Wharf along the Thames all the way to the London Eye, with the City, St Paul’s Cathedral, Tate Modern and so much more to admire in between. The panorama is so dynamic, so mercurial as day turns to dusk, that I didn’t want to leave the suite at all during my stay – I’d advise anyone staying here for one night only not to plan anything else. Order room service, get friends to meet you there; you can do ground-level stuff some other time.
Guests residing there a little bit longer, however, might also appreciate the private study area attached to the bedroom, dedicated butler service and the discreet kitchenette where staff can put finishing touches to dishes being served at the living area’s 10-person dining table.
Shangri-La Suite at Shangri-La The Shard, London
188sq metres; sleeps 2; from £10,000 per night, room-only but including one-way airport transfer.
ROOM, The Beaumont
One of the most unusual accoutrements visible on the otherwise classic exterior of Mayfair’s Beaumont hotel is a giant steel figure perched on the edge of the building. It’s a sculpture designed by the artist Antony Gormley and within the figure’s body is the bedroom that forms the centrepiece of its most distinctive suite, named ROOM.
That same bedroom offers a floor space of just 4sq metres but its ceiling stretches up to 10 metres in height; everything inside is finished in oak, the space is unfurnished save for the bed. The suite’s strange composition was inspired by Gormley’s belief that are bodies are primary habitat and that guests should feel cocooned and reflective within this space. They should be naked too. Gormley advises residents to leave their clothes in the marble bathroom that connects the bedroom to the living space so they can enjoy “the most personal, intimate experience” he has conceived for them in the bedroom.
That “intimate experience” isn’t for everyone. I liked Gormely’s creativity and found my stay distinctive and memorable. My partner wasn’t at all keen, finding the space claustrophobic and somewhat uncomfortable. Outside of the bedroom, the suite includes a simple living space.
ROOM at The Beaumont
69sq metres; sleeps 2; from £1,045 including light breakfast, minibar soft drinks and snacks, and films.
The Sterling Suite, The Langham
I was the first guest to stay overnight at The Langham’s Sterling Suite when it opened in 2015, then the largest hotel suite in London. It was especially significant as it indicated The Langham’s broader ambition at that time to firmly embed itself in the very top tier of the best luxury hotels in London. The £24,000-a-night price tag stood out too, though the suite got off to a flying start. Checking in right after me was an American guest who stayed with his family for six weeks.
With six bedrooms and 450sq metres to stretch out in, there should have been plenty of space for them. Also available to guests is an “innovative private media lounge” – a posh TV room – a butler’s pantry, expansive drawing room with grand piano and a dining room. Service really sets the space apart, however. Our butler took immense and considerate care of us, purchasing extra throws for us when he overheard one of mentioning the media lounge was chilly (air-con wasn’t yet fully up and running as I was booked into the suite on its very first day of operation) and additionally arranging for the hotel’s pianist to play the grand piano for us as we dined in-suite one evening after we lamented being unable to make use of the instrument. Guests additionally have a private elevator which leads directly to the hotel’s club lounge, one of the best in London, where complimentary drinks and snacks are readily available.
The Sterling Suite at The Langham, London
450sq metres; sleeps up to 12 depending on configuration; £25,000 per night
Grand Pavilion Penthouse, The Berkeley
Its designer André Fu told me he wanted the Grand Pavilion Penthouse and its identically priced, neighbouring penthouse Crescent Pavilion Suite to celebrate “London’s refinement and British hospitality”, and to feel homely rather than pimped-up with embellishments added purely “for the Instagram factor”.
Be that as it may, the two-bedroom Grand Pavilion Penthouse remains a very photogenic place. Finished in a neutral palette of what Fu calls “in-between colours” – soft greys, pale green – it features a private terrace with firepit, a beautiful bathroom finished in Baltic marble and stocked with full-size Aesop amenities, and a living area and bedroom that together are encased within a glass pavilion. Service is stellar too, with Maybourne Hotel Group staff again going the extra mile to make a good impression. I had access to round-the-clock “signature service liaisons”, The Berkeley’s take on butlers, to deal with any requirements, and they happily take a creative approach to bog-standard requests. With prior notice they can have Marcus Wareing cook and present your room-service dinner himself; the cocktails I order from the Blue Bar menu downstairs were prepared in my suite by a spruced-up barman who appeared at my door with garnishes and drinks daintily laid out on his little trolley.
Grand Pavilion Penthouse at The Berkeley
216sq metres; sleeps four; from £14,000, including transfers or valet parking.
The Royal Suite, The Lanesborough
“Fit for a king, queen or head of state” says The Lanesborough of its premium suite, and it’s certainly a palatial setting full of grandeur and gravitas. The Regency-style one-bedroom suite shimmers as you enter – that’ll be the 24-carat gold leaf washed over the sitting-room ceiling – and is kitted out sparkling chandeliers, 18th-century oil paintings and antiques. There are plenty of high-tech additions too, but they’re discreet. In the cherry-red study, a TV is hidden behind a picture – you press a button on your remote control to reveal it. Parties who want more space can join the suite to adjacent rooms to form a seven-bedroom super suite that houses up to 18 guests.
Guests here can expect attentive round-the-clock butler service too (it comes as standard for all Lanesborough guests, in fact), plus in The Lanesborough Club & Spa they’ll have access to one of the best hotel gyms, spas and fitness facilities in all of London.
The Royal Suite at The Lanesborough
165sq metres, sleeps 2; from £20,000 per night.
The Royal Suite, The Savoy
An elongated one-bedroom suite that stretches across much of the Savoy’s fifth floor, The Royal Suite makes the most of its Thames-side setting with floor-to-ceiling windows that give close-up views of the London Eye and Southbank Centre. It’s a prime location on New Year’s Eve, when its guests enjoy one of the best (comfortable and dry) views there’s to be had of the city’s fireworks display.
Inside, there’s a gold-hued sitting room with its own private bar, a quaintly styled ‘morning room’ that makes a cosy place in which to have breakfast and a sprawling wood-panelled bathroom with Jacuzzi bathtub. As you’d expect, a Savoy butler is on standby day and night to help with any and all requests and queries.
The Royal Suite at The Savoy
264sq metres; sleeps two; from £15,875
Of course, there are many more significant signature suites among London’s many luxury hotels, but I haven’t stayed in them all and I haven’t recommended every one I’ve stayed in. Among the London hotel suites I’ve toured without spending the night in, Brown’s Hotel’s signature Kipling Suite deserves a special mention.
The Kipling Suite, Brown’s Hotel
Lots of hotels have tenuous relationships with notable individuals – even now it can seem like Oscar Wilde stayed at every hotel in London and Paris – but some connections are stronger and more interesting than others. Rudyard Kipling wrote part of The Jungle Book in Brown’s Hotel and the property’s Kipling Suite was created in his honour.
Designed, like so much of the Rocco Forte Hotels portfolio, by Olga Polizzi, the suite’s bedroom is its crowning feature. It is vividly decorated with green-and-gold Lewis & Wood wallpaper. It’s not exactly restful, but it is characterful, a welcome alternative for travellers who want to stay in a luxury property with a bit of proper individuality. Beside it, the double-height lounge faces Mayfair’s Albermarle Street and is decorated with trinkets and books, including multiple editions of Kipling’s work. The bathroom is huge and tasteful, finished in white-veined Italian marble, with a standalone tub and a mammoth walk-in shower.
The Kipling Suite at Brown’s Hotel
155sq metres; sleeps 2; from £6,500, including two 30-minute massages, in-room bar and one-way airport transfer.
Waterloo Bridge Suite, One Aldwych
Given how the following months progressed, One Aldwych’s late-2019 refurb didn’t get the attention it deserved. Still, with London reopening the hotel’s new signature suites warrant a second look. Its centrepiece a rounded living room that overlooks the eponymous bridge, the Waterloo Bridge Suite is a surprisingly calm eyrie – the triple-glazing here really does the trick – dressed in subtle pinks and decorated with bespoke, British-made furniture. A generously sized dressing room stands off the bedroom and tech, including Bang & Olufsen speakers and Loewe TVs, is tip-top.
The Westminster Bridge Suite at One Aldwych
76sq metres; sleeps 2; from £1,700, including one-way airport or train station transfer.
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