United Kingdom Travel Guide
Alright then, you've heard the news but don't be too sad. We're still publishing until Friday.
If you’re familiar with the story of Heckfield Place, you know it’s been a long one: announced in 2011 for an April 2012 opening, the Grade-II listed country house 40 minutes outside of London was meant to outclass and out-luxe competition like Dorchester Collection’s Coworth Park and the Four Seasons Hampshire.
Years of construction delays resulted in the GM (from the May Fair) and chef (from Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park) leaving before the hotel ever had a guest come through its doors. Towards the end of last year, opening was going to “definitely” be spring 2015, which the single-page placeholder website proudly listed. We noticed a few months ago that the “spring” had been removed for a more vague “2015”, but even that was not to be: we just saw that opening has been pushed back to 2016.
That’s getting very near to four years behind plan, which we cannot imagine to be anything but rather painful for everyone involved. When the hotel does open, it should have 46 bedrooms and suites, along with three restaurants, a cinema, spa and fitness complex in a refurbished gardener’s cottage including pool and indoor and outdoor Jacuzzi.
[Photo via Google]
Multiple choice: A Holiday Inn Express in the UK refused to let this woman check in to the hotel because she was,
b) sans credit card;
d) none of the above?
Correct answer: D. It appears that they didn't let her check in for the room she’d booked purely because she was Romanian.
When we stood on its terrace back in November 2012, the Dome Penthouse at Hotel Café Royal London was still a raw space, waiting to be turned into one of the hotel’s top suites. That would take another year, along with the historic suites that we looked at and the very serene Akasha Holistic Wellbeing Centre buried underneath Regent Street.
With Paris Hilton having just checked out, we had a chance to see the finished suite with our own eyes the other week. Standing next to the statue of Britannia is still a very London moment, but inside we got a demo of some of the other unique features the suite has, which includes the ability to turn it into your own nightclub / movie theater. On the wall that separates living room and bedroom/bathroom, a rotating light installation brings the visual effects to go along with the music from a pretty serious sound system. If you need a suite where you can throw a party (Paris?), this is for you.
Hotel News / Hotel Openings / Peninsula Hotels / London Hotels / Luxury Hotels / Hotel Hype / → All Tags
We’re not going to lie: if our patience often gets tested when it comes to hotel openings, the wait for The Peninsula London will be the ultimate test. Two solid years after we heard the hotel was coming to Knightsbridge / Belgravia, we finally got a first look at its exterior, due to replace the office block currently occupying the 1-5 Grosvenor Place address. Along with that came a projected opening in 2021, also known as the next decade.
The community consultation process is in full swing, more details of which you can find on the dedicated project website. Luckily for us, the boards used during the consultation events are available online, and include a few more renderings to whet our appetite for the 190-room hotel. Above a view of the main entrance on Grosvenor Place, with the usual two lions standing guard, the green Rolls-Royce even making a digital appearance outside, and just on the right the Wellington Arch.
Last summer when we had the customer service experience to end all customer service experiences at Claridge’s, we said that we couldn't imagine many other London hotels being so pro-customer and ultimately ensuring our repeat visits.
Well now it’s time to add another London hotel to the amazing, out-of-the-ordinary service list: The Mandeville.
Now, though, you have a rather nice new option: Chapel House PZ, which has just opened in a 1790 Georgian townhouse a few blocks from the harbor and beautiful Mount’s Bay.
It’s a small place with just six bedrooms, each with a super-subtle nautical feel - palettes of greens, blues and greys to fit in with the sea, which they all look out onto. All have handmade oak beds (to go with those beams!), smart TVs, iPads and bathrooms with your choice of giant tub or waterfall shower.
On that Saturday, there are four room types available: Superior, Superior Four Poster, Super Deluxe, and Studio. Rates for a Superior Room start at £318 ($500) a night. We need to look further into the future for an entry-level Club Room to appear, which we can see for £240 ($375) a night. Above a slightly wider angle of the same room we’ve seen some shots of before. It is indeed quite quirky, distinctive design, with the modern bed standing out against the throwback décor.
Two years ago, a formal announcement was made for a Peninsula Hotel in London at 1-5 Grosvenor Place. Today, we've finally got a few more details on the design and specs of the hotel, thanks to building plans recently submitted to the Westminster City Council.
Currently, the spot for Peninsula London is, as JasonD wrote in 2013--" a rather unattractive office block." Here's what it looked like two years ago:
Now, the owners of the Peninsula brand--The Hongkong and Shangai Hotels, Limited--along with joint venture partners, Grosvenor Britain & Ireland (Grosvenor), are proposing a new building that "responds to the heritage of its immediate neighbours", that being all the swank buildings of Belgravia. Here's a (far away) rendering of what the hotel will look like when its completed:
Designed by British-based Hopkins Architects, the hotel will have 190 hotel rooms, a spa, several bars and restaurants and a ballroom. The property will also have 24-28 residences with their own separate leisure and spa facility, along with an entrance and reception on Halkin Street. A pedestrian entrance is planned for Grosvenor Street which will be accessed from "a colonnade linking to an internal ‘Palazzo-style’ courtyard, approximately 30 x 30 metres, allowing vehicle access." No doubt, this is where Peninsula will line-up all their fancy cars and their Mini-Coopers, too.
We're already getting giddy about these plans, but we'll have to temper our excitement. Construction on the Peninsula won't even begin until summer 2017, with an opening expected sometime in 2021. In case you have forgotten simple math, that's SIX YEARS FROM NOW. Sigh.
[Rendering: Peninsula Hotels]
Hotel Rebrandings / MGallery Hotels / Mercure Hotels / Accor Hotels / Cheltenham Hotels / Windsor Hotels / → All Tags
The soon to be MGallery Castle Hotel Windsor
MGallery by Accor is one of our go-to favorite brands - always inventive, always boutiquey, and usually properties with a golden history. So this is great news - Accor is bringing two UK Mercure hotels over to the MGallery brand in September.
In royal Windsor, where every American should visit at least once in their lives, they’ll take over the the Castle Hotel Windsor. This place has some history - the site dates back to the 16th century, though the current building is Georgian.
With Firmdale’s flagship Ham Yard Hotel a year old, the biggest news we’re waiting for from Tim and Kit Kemp will be anything definitive on their second hotel in New York. In progress on W. 56th Street, we’re hoping to walk by soon to see what we can find, but in the meantime, we’ll settle for updates at a number of London hotels: from new suites to a library and a refreshed garden space.
Given that it’s summer, let’s start outdoors at Number Sixteen, a small townhouse hotel with 41 rooms in South Kensington. Accessed through the Conservatory, the updated garden is an all-day venue for eating and drinking. Private gardens like this are real estate gold in this part of town, so on a warm July day it should be perfect for a lazy breakfast. Everything inside the hotel is in signature Kit Kemp style, but be aware that entry-level single rooms are a teensy 8 sq m (86 sq ft).
We’ve been talking it about for over three years now, but Hilton Hotels has finally given the Hilton London Bankside its own website, only a few months after putting its name on the building itself. Above a King Guest Room, indeed very similar to the renderings we saw a year ago. If this is that “new brand design”, what say ye? Reservations for the 292 rooms, all with free WiFi, are being accepted from October 29, so an autumn opening seems feasible.
Restaurant OXBO Bankside will be a “fresh and contemporary grill”, and The Distillery Bar will have as a unique feature “pipette aromatics, infusions and onsite made bitters with which to accent drinks inspired by the building’s heritage as a distillery” (we presume that refers to whatever was here before, the Hilton itself is brand new). We’re curious to see the fitness center with lap pool.
On Friday, two noble houses, both alike in dignity, came together in holy matrimony… but we don’t care about the Hiltons or the Rothschilds – we care about Claridge’s, where Nicky Hilton stayed when she married James Rothschild in a Kate Middletonesque dress at Kensington Palace.
Luckily for us, Paris shared some photos on Instagram: