By John O’Ceallaigh
With business travel still suffering and so many one-time office inmates now enthusiastically working from home, it perhaps isn’t the best time to open a new hotel in the City of London. Still, Pan Pacific London was planned for the capital long before Covid turned the world upside down and its parent group in Singapore is confident the brand’s new European flagship property is sufficiently multifaceted and dynamic enough to prosper over the years to come. Despite its location between Bank and Liverpool Street stations, this isn’t intended as a bog-standard business hotel.
Opening on September 1 at One Bishopsgate Plaza, where it will occupy the first 19 floors of the recently completed skyscraper that is next door to Heron Tower (home to Sushisamba and Duck & Waffle), the hotel will bring “Asian hospitality and kindness” to the neighbourhood, my host told me on a tour of the property this week. It will be “a haven in the City”.
I found my guide’s emphasis on kindness unexpected but endearing – it’s not the promotional patter you usually hear on these hard-hat visits or a behaviour you’d attribute to the City generally, but maybe recent events have made us all a little bit more empathetic. Anyway, if the first duty of kindness is to be good to yourself, then guests will be able to do that on the hotel’s fourth floor, home to “the most innovative” health and wellbeing centre in the capital. That’s a dubious claim and there are lots of London hotels with impressive fitness facilities already, but still it sounds impressive. At 1,083 square metres, the entire floor is dedicated to wellness amenities and comes packed with the latest equipment from TecnoBody. Its crowning glory is an 18.5m infinity pool. Able to create tailored menus for guests, an in-house nutritionist will feature among the hotel’s staff and on-demand wellness programmes, produced by and exclusively for Pan Pacific, will be available to view in guest rooms and suites. There will also be mindfulness workshops, and spa treatments “will infuse Western science and clinical research with the South East Asian tradition of clean beauty”.
As you’d expect from a Singapore brand, there’s a big emphasis on drinking and dining too. Among the five F&B venues, Straits Kitchen is a “premium casual” restaurant that “will showcase the melting pot of cuisines represented in multicultural Singapore”. LIke the rest of the hotel, it’s pet-friendly too. When I was there, a dog was happily snoozing by its owner’s feet under a table and apparently the hotel’s staff will include a “pet concierge” – a gimmicky, grand way of saying that a team member will be happy to help with caretaking needs relating to guests’ animals.
More about food and drink: right by the lobby on the ground floor, The Orchid Lounge is named after Singapore’s national flower and will serve two afternoon teas devised by pastry chef Cherish Finden. The Traditional Delights afternoon tea will be a classic British affair; the Kopi Tiam afternoon tea is the Singaporean alternative with Asian-fusion savoury snacks included. Right beside it, Ginger Lily bar will feature over 200 by-the-glass champagnes, the largest list of its kind in the City of London and as good an indicator as any that Pan Pacific is confident good times will return to the district soon. Also of interest is a cocktail bar designed by Tom Dixon that will stand alongside the main hotel in the fourth floor of an ancillary building that will also include retail outlets, the Grade II-listed Devonshire House.
Designed, like the rest of the hotel, by Yabu Pushelberg, the hotel’s 237 guest rooms and suites are modern and generously sized for London, starting at 37 square metres. The first room I was shown, a family-friendly Premier Double Double category with two double beds, struck me as a bit conservative and plain, though I was told some art was yet to be added and that should hopefully liven things up. Those generously sized, entry-level Deluxe Rooms made a better impression, though, with oversized floral headboards by Moss & Lam providing an aesthetic focal point and pops of canary yellow offsetting a palette that is otherwise mostly taupe and brown. Provided in aluminium tubes that can be recycled indefinitely, toiletries are by Diptyque. Rising up the building, some rooms and suites offer unimpeded and fantastic views of the Gherkin skyscraper, the City landmark now almost fully encased by taller skyscrapers on every side.
That Gherkin view is perhaps most comfortably appreciated from the 19th-floor Pan Pacific Suite, the best room in the house. Extending over 118 square metres and stretching from one side of the building to the other, the one-bedroom suite includes an elegant office with a rust-red marble desk that feels like a good place to seal a deal, alongside a sprawling living area with those knockout views and a library whose collection of books is altered to guest preferences with each booking. To the side, a discreet pantry with separate entrance allows butlers to prep canapés and drinks should occupants want to invite guests around for a private event as we all wait for life to fully return to the restaurants and bars down below in the City.
Rooms at Pan Pacific London start from £325, excluding breakfast.
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