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Sean attends to his typical Savoy clientele
They’re contractually obliged to fulfill all the desires of the other party, they submit to ridiculous demands whatever their personal preferences, and they’ll go to great lengths to satisfy the other person. No, we’re not talking about gruesome Fifty Shades packages, but those bastions of English propriety, the butlers of the Savoy.
There are around 25 butlers at the Savoy, providing 24-hour service to all suites (of which there are 73). Sean Davoren here is their chief. And the hotel has got him to open up a little about all the weird and wonderful facets of being a butler.
Of course, this interview having been commissioned by the hotel, there’s nothing really mindblowing or naughty, but we like these facts:
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While on the luxury side Glh Hotels has been quiet to the point that its first opening, Clermont London, didn’t make the cut for this year’s list of new hotels to watch in the city, there’s been slightly more activity with its two other new brands: Amba Hotels and lowercase every Hotels.
We’ve seen the Amba flag outside the Charing Cross hotel, the first of four in the city that will do the same. For every, the former Thistle wedged in between Leicester Square and Piccadilly Circus is now live on its new home as every Piccadilly. Above a shot of a Standard Room, which is… fine? It’s perfectly inoffensive, but also not quite what we had pictured for something as millennial-sounding as every. There are 82 rooms in total, split in three categories: Standard, Deluxe, and Junior Suite.
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Ah, the first days of February when the cold is holding you tight in its embrace and hotels are trying to warm you up with “sexy” and “sizzling” Valentine’s Day packages that actually make only your stomach sizzle – with that unsexy sick feeling. What’s worse, this year, lots of hotels are going all out with Fifty Shades of Grey packages (#pray4hotelchatter as we approach our inbox with trepidation each morning).
Luckily, there is one hotel offering something so gloriously insane that it starts at vomit-worthy and turns right round into awful but inspired.
The Ampersand in London is offering people who stay during February the chance to personalize your pillows “with a special message or image”. That means either your names, as per the photo, or… erm… something else. No word on whether there is anything they won’t print.
When we stayed at Mandarin Oriental Paris a few years ago, we remember seeing a continuous flow of very glamorous people coming in and out of an entrance a few doors down on (extremely fancy) Rue St Honoré, with a hint of something equally glamorous inside visible. Investigating further, it turned out to – perhaps not surprisingly – the Hôtel Costes, long a celebrity draw, which has just been announced will pack its velvet, heavy drapes, and boudoir lighting into the Eurostar and bring some Parisian chic to London.
Working together with the Cadogan Estate, one of the biggest landowners in the city, it will open a 40-room hotel at One Sloane Gardens, just off of Sloane Square and up the road from the Sloane Club. Above the Victorian apartment building that will be converted into the hotel, which gives it almost a straight line to local favorite The Botanist across the square.
Well, that took a long time. Three and a half years ago, the Hotel Verta – riverside in London’s Battersea neighborhood, with a heliport outside the front door – went looking for someone new after its Von Essen hotel group went into administration. That was only a year after it opened in a location that was enough out of the way for it to struggle pretty much from day one.
We’ll admit things have been so quiet we wouldn’t have been able tell you with certainty the Verta was still open, but evidently it was, with the news that it is now the Crowne Plaza London – Battersea. Together with the Crowne Plaza that is being developed near Albert Embankment and the existing City hotel, that will give IHG three Crowne Plazas on or next to the river between Battersea and Blackfriars.
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Twelve months ago, we listed six London hotels to watch out for, and waited patiently for each of them to arrive over the course of 2014. In a world of perpetual hotel delays, we didn’t do so badly, with only one out of six not opening as promised.
With last year’s success rate in mind and finding ourselves in a year that ends on five, it only seems right to take a look at five new London hotels that should make their debut between now and December. Noticeably absent from the list? Clermont London, the one hotel that prevented us from scoring a six out of six last year. Silence on the transformation of the Royal Horseguards Hotel continues, with no update since we first wrote about it in late 2013. Who knows, it may catch us by surprise and open this year, but having been fooled once, we’ll focus on the following for now.
The Lanesborough: closed for well over a year, a “Spring 2015” return came with a fresh website and the news that the Hyde Park Corner hotel would join the Oetker Collection. Renderings show the 93 rooms and suites to stay close to the original Regency décor, but despite Albert Pinto’s classic take, technology should be very 21st century. As much as we would love to believe a March completion, the hotel continues to be obscured by scaffolding last we saw, so we’ll say a hopeful June(ish) for reopening?
Shepherd’s Bush doesn’t sound like the most rock n roll of London addresses, until you think about all those pop stars who’ve played the Shepherd’s Bush Empire, and those who performed in what was once Kensington House, a BBC studio – and a building that’s now the K West Hotel.
And so the hotel – which is often overlooked by London visitors, thanks to its location – is going all out to channel the music vibe, with a subtle rock refurbishment of the public areas and an ‘afternoon tea’ in the shape of late night munchies.
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Good news for the cost-conscious business traveller to London: a few weeks from now, there will be a fifth Tune Hotel to choose from, this time among Canary Wharf’s corporate high-rises. Four and a half years after we first tested its Westminster location, this 130-room hotel will bring some new interior design to go with the same low, low, low rates the group is known for.
Above a double room with window, of which there are 85. Another 22 doubles do without the exterior aspect, while for the 20 twin rooms the only choice is the windowed kind. Three accessible rooms (also with window) take it to the total of 130 rooms, walking distance from Canary Wharf tube station (the Jubilee line will take you to the heart of the West End in less than half an hour) and West India Quay for the DLR overground.
The 5:2 diet is all the rage in the UK right now. If you haven’t heard of it, the premise is simple – five days of the week you eat normally, and two days of the week you fast. By fasting, we don’t mean starving – you just stick to 500 calories a day. It is wildly popular.
500 calories in a day sounds doable but, having done the diet before, it’s not. Luckily, though, the beautiful Balcon restaurant at the Sofitel St James (the people who last brought you an art exhibition called 'Vegetables') is coming to the rescue of the likes of us with its new De-Light menu.
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Raising the temperature in the Amber Suite
What to do when you’re a five star hotel in an egregiously expensive city which is one of the centers of the banking world which caused the global financial crisis, and your prices are such that only rich people and celebrities (because celebrities are all over your hotel) can afford to stay there?
You put on a play about wealth and complacency and capitalism and guilt… in one of your top suites.
Having walked by Nobu Shoreditch, just east of London’s Old Street roundabout, we quickly headed up City Road to see the latest at M by Montcalm Shoreditch, the “super high-tech” hotel the group has promised us for early this year. Construction has certainly progressed since last summer, with the still very angular building free of scaffolding, and most notably, with the top floor – meant to house a rooftop restaurant and bar – now complete.
Reservations have also moved up to March 1 from March 3, but what really caught our eye were the options to ‘enhance’ your stay. Complimentary room fragrances: romantic touch, refreshing lavender, fresh clean, pink grapefruit, saw grass, and marine fresh. Pillow menu: anti-aging, hypo-allergenic, shape your sleep, “The Ecological Pillow”, Ladies' Dainty Delight, and as pièce de resistance, Manly Macho Magic. We have no words.
Stay near the British Museum and you may see your hotel rate rise
Paris. Rome. Athens. Europe is a continent of hotel taxes – those extra couple of euros tacked onto your stay that go direct to the city – but one place has held out. Until now.
Camden Council in London is considering charging a £1-a-night tax on hotel stays, in order to raise £5m annually to be used for street cleaning in its tourist areas (Camden Town, St Pancras, and even Bloomsbury, around the British Museum).