In amongst the bustle of London, a hotel proudly stands on Regent Street. The seven-storey building is hard to miss, its stone façade and neoclassical architecture whispers its rich history as soon as you set eyes on it. This is Hotel Café Royal, a treasure trove dating back to 1865, beloved by poets and politicians, Hollywood stars and sportsmen. It was frequented by iconic figures like Winston Churchill, Oscar Wilde, Elizabeth Taylor and Muhammad Ali (the venue even housed a boxing ring that was auctioned off in 2009).
An exterior view of Hotel Cafe Royal London
Nestled between elegant Mayfair and high-energy Soho, the hotel’s location is favourable for those travelling for business and pleasure. Some of London’s finest shopping destinations and restaurants are a stone’s throw, and cultural sightings like the Piccadilly Theatre and Royal Academy of Arts are walking distance. Once a popular nightspot, the Grade-II listed 20th century building was sensitively refurbished into a five-star hotel by noted architect Sir David Chipperfield and Donald Insall Associates in 2012, who paired the space’s traditional sensibilities with a modern, crisp look.
You enter the hotel through a revolving door that suddenly transports you to the large marble-clad public rooms of the 19th and 20th centuries. French stained-glass windows rest above the English entrance with a crown-bearing ‘N’ inscription, originally installed by founder Daniel Nicholas Thévenon in 1865, and high relief friezes and decorative mirrors dress the walls with roaring fireplaces below – all nods to the hotel’s noble heritage. Plans are under way to build a grand new lobby by architect Piero Lissoni alongside an all-day dining restaurant on the first floor by early next year.
Bedroom in the Westminster Suite at Hotel Cafe Royal London
Chipperfield has imbued the space with his signature minimalist charm, evident in its now pared-down 160 guestrooms and suites spread across six floors (starting from the second floor). The Westminster Suite is in a league of its own – named after the London district that the rooms overlook, the open-plan space is filled with natural light and boasts fascinating views of the fashionable Regent Street, the Houses of Parliament, and Piccadilly’s flashing lights.
Bathroom in the Grand Junior Suite at Hotel Cafe Royal London
Unfussy with clean and simple furnishings, the suite is lined with the hotel’s signature herringbone parquet floors, while original details such as carved-stone mouldings and gilded panels remain intact. Cream-coloured fumed English oak and rusticated Portland stone cover the walls, which calls to mind the façade of buildings on Regent Street – the design team’s way of bringing London’s cityscape inside the hotel. The bathroom, with the tub and counter sink done in exquisite Carrara marble, is visually calming and perfect for a hot bath after a long day out in London.
To meet your sartorial needs, the hotel also offers guests staying in suites with a spectacular in-room wardrobe service called Fashion Now in partnership with MatchesFashion.com. This involves a phone consultation with a MatchesFashion.com stylist, after which a curated wardrobe featuring over 450 brands will show up at your door alongside an expert. You can also pre-book the service to have a selection of designer-wear available in your room before you even check-in.
Pompadour Terrace at Hotel Cafe Royal London
There’s a string of culinary highlights including bars, restaurants and a café at the hotel, including the flamboyant Oscar Wilde Bar for a delightful afternoon tea, the only part of the original venue that remains with its regal mirrors, gilded surfaces and leather upholstery. The Green Bar must be your pick for a refreshing mocktail, and the Art Deco-inspired Ten Room and Papillon are where you can feast throughout the day.
Watsu swimming pool at the Akasha Holistic Wellbeing Centre
For an added bit of rejuvenation, there’s the Akasha Holistic Wellbeing Centre that features nine treatment rooms, a sauna and a jacuzzi alongside a range of signature treatments. There’s also a private hammam and a Vichy shower for cleansing hydrotherapy. Akasha also houses London’s first Watsu swimming pool spread across 18 metres that draws inspiration from classical baths.
The Westminster Suite is priced between Dhs4,450 and Dhs7,000 (Prices are approximate). For more information, visit Hotelcaferoyal.com.