It’s not everyday that one of London’s most coveted corners gets a brand new five-star hotel. Most of the city’s best inns — you can name them: the Lanesborough, the Dorchester, Claridge’s, etc. — are long established institutions. It’s even rarer for that new hotel to be a Peninsula. After all, it’s only the brand’s 12th hotel in its 157-year-old history. Now, The Peninsula London, a hotel several decades in the making, is finally opening its doors today, sharing exclusive images with Robb Report.
“It’s taken us 35 years of home hunting to find this [site],” said Sonja Vodusek, Peninsula London’s managing director told RR. “But the company thinks longterm and is really particular. London is the ‘crown jewel’ according to our chairman. We wanted it to be perfect.”
More from Robb Report
Perfection may be in the eye of the beholder but the new hotel is certainly packed with style and eye catching details.
Located at Hyde Park Corner, off the Wellington Arch roundabout on the lip of Belgravia, Knightsbridge, and Piccadilly, the Peninsula London was designed by London-based Archer Humphryes architects to blend with those prestigious surrounds, while still maintaining a contemporary facade and flow. Inside, things get even bold thanks to designer Peter Marino, who despite his leather-daddy persona, translated the Peninsula’s understated Asian elegance into a London setting. All up, there are the 190 rooms and suites, plus 25 private residences.
“Peter said he would create the Peninsula Martini: two-thirds Peter; one-third British; and the olive is a touch of Asian flavor,” said Vodusek.
Floor-to-ceiling windows light up glinting gold in the cream carpet and beige walls, which in turn tones with the honey-colored marble in the bathrooms for a soft amber glow. Marino honored Peninsula must-haves, like enormous walk-in dressing rooms with full sartorial knickknacks — who doesn’t need a shoe horn? Rooms start at $1,640 per night.
“Guest rooms have Peter Marino pops of color and texture, and touches of Asia,” said Vodusek. “They have nice clean lines and lots of space and light. These rooms are some of the most spacious in the city — the smallest is around 550 square feet.”
Then there’s the biggest: the signature Peninsula Suite on the sixth floor, which includes a private terrace, a cinema, gym, and an optional add-on entertaining suite (the grand Terrace Suite). Add seven more bedrooms to take over the entire floor. Just park in the underground garage and take the private elevator straight to six.
“It’s like a hotel within the hotel,” said Vodusek.
On the ground floor, the traditional Peninsula Afternoon Tea and other lighter elegant dining is served in the airy triple height Lobby restaurant.
Nearby, East-West ties are referenced in chef Dicky To’s Canton Blue restaurant, designed by Henry Leung of Hong Kong’s CAP Atelier, who took inspiration from the Chinese trading ship, the Keying junk, which sailed from China to the United States and Britain in the mid-1800s, at one point docking at the Isle of Dogs in the Thames.
The East-West theme is picked up in the Enzo Enea designed courtyard garden, where English style cascading ivy and wisteria are paired with two 120-year-old Japanese maples.
By the end of the year, the signature Peninsula Spa and Wellness Center, and event spaces will unfold along with the top suites. It’s a phased rollout giving staff — outfitted in uniforms from Catherine, Princess of Wales-favored fashion designer Jenny Packham, including her first designs for men — adequate time to more gently harmonize with their new roles.
Topping everything off is the hotel’s signature rooftop restaurant, Brooklands, headed by Michelin-starred chef Claude Bosi of Bibendum fame. Brooklands, which opens in early October, is named for the airfield and historic car racetrack, now a motoring and aviation museum, and the restaurant’s design aesthetic runs wild in honoring British aviation and automotive history.
The restaurant has a dedicated ground floor lobby, off the hotel’s lobby, with an actual Concorde nose, built as a spare but never used, that hangs above a rotating vintage race car exhibit from Brooklands Museum — the first is a Napier Railton, a Brooklands and Bonneville world speed record breaker in its day. From there, two elevators emulating hot air balloon baskets whisk diners to the eighth floor.
Naturally, there is a model of the Concorde as well as rare motoring memorabilia, and an actual wing from a noble British Vickers airplane hangs in the restaurant and bar. If it feels like you’re sitting on a Rolls Royce sipping a perfectly chilled martini, that’s because Brooklands seating is modeled after Bentley and Rolls’s cushy perches.
There’s also an outdoor terrace overlooking London’s storied cityscape and a separate humidor, The Tasting Room, whose design is inspired by the Delage 155B, the winner of the first Grand Prix at Brooklands in 1926.
“We’re opening slowly so our people can give the best possible service,” said Vodusek. “You only get one chance to create a great first impression. We don’t want the wheels to fall off.”
Best of Robb Report