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This is probably going to be controversial for a bunch of folks, but London has decided to pimp out one of its top landmarks, the Admiralty Arch, as a five-star luxury hotel. The King Edward VII-commissioned building, which was completed in 1912, originally housed the offices and residences of British Sea Lords, though last year it was put up for sale.
But wait! It gets better. The man in charge of the project is none other than Rafael Serrano, whose most recent hotel, the $800/night
Vulgari Bulgari, was one of the most talked about hotels in the city when it opened in June. See? We told you it got better.
With all the new hotels opening up in Shanghai (Four Seasons, Renaissance, Sheraton have all debuted new properties within the past month), it's no surprise that luxury brand Bulgari has chosen to launch their fourth property in the Chinese hub.
According to CIT, the 120-room hotel will occupy the top twelve floors of a 40-storey building designed by Foster + Partners (who were responsible for the Dolder Grand's grand renovation back in 2008) in the Suhe Creek district. In addition to a ballroom, spa, and rooftop Italian restaurant, there will also be a Chinese fine dining restaurant "created in the former Chinese Chamber of Commerce building at the site, which dates back to 1900."
Sounds fun. We're just hoping they go easy on the glass cabinets and greased-up waiters this time!
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All this talk about IKEA getting ready to sweep Europe with a new chain of budget hotels got us thinking about some of the other cool brands out there. And it's a good thing there's so many of them—because while certain brands have managed to deliver on their promises, others have yet to open a single property. And yet we still remain hopelessly glued to the screen...
Take a look at these six other hotel brands we're most excited about, and see which openings are coming to a theater near you.
The world finally exhaled when Virgin made the announcement that the location of its first-ever hotel would be in Chicago. It's going to have a modest 250 rooms, and it will open in the city's historic Dearborn Bank Building, which will hopefully make good on Richard Branson's promise that all Virgin properties will become "the hippest most comfortable in any city." Well, sir, we'll hold off on judgment until we see one actually open. Construction began in May, with a projected opening date of Fall 2013.
But, but, but it looks so pretty!
While we were thrilled to get a sneak peek at the just-opened Bulgari Hotel in London from a spy who said the place was "oozing quality", it looks like
a reporter the travel editor from Daily Mail who spent the night couldn't get out of the place fast enough.
Dubbing the spot "The Vulgari Hotel (ouch), Mark Palmer found Britain's most expensive hotel to be just another "crass monument to bling" populated with fawning Bulgari flunkeys. Needless to say, he wasn't impressed by the hotel's style featuring black granite floors in the lobby, polished mahogany, glass cabinets displaying Bulgari jewelry and security guards.
Nor was he taken with the overservice of the hotel's employees, saying there is "the almost obligatory dispensing of £5 notes to grovelling staff as they press the lift buttons on your behalf and generally buzz about like pesky wasps."
The harshest criticisms were reserved for the hotel's bar and restaurant which aside from extremely high prices, the joint according to Palmer is staffed by "waiters are so greasy you can practically smell the Brylcreem." Also, "the lighting is harsh, the acoustics appalling." And ordering is nothing short of a visit to a hospital. Palmer writes:
In addition to the main menu, there’s a list of ‘bites to share to start your meal’ and a pencil. You’re meant to tick the boxes opposite the dishes you want, rather like patients in hospital: seven little mouthfuls come in at £28.
We've long been wondering what the inside of the just-opened Bulgari London looks like but unfortunately we're not flush enough to spend nearly $700 a night on a room there. But thank heavens for our special tipsters who go on the inside for us.
Here are some snaps of a suite at the Bulgari and a few snaps of the hotel's luxe presidential suite (those would be the last three photos.) Our tipster says the rooms are "oozing quality" and we have to agree. We're mesmerized by that headboard!
One thing it's not oozing though is Bulgari toiletries. We spied some near the bath but they were just average toiletry-size. Not going to lie, we were hoping for full-sized a la The Babington House.
Interested in seeing the Bulgari London for your well-heeled self? Room rates this weekend are starting at 670GBP a night. A studio suite starts at 1500 pounds.
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We can't believe it finally happened but the Bulgari London hotel has officially opened!
Initially, the hotel was supposed to open on June 1 but when we checked the rates today, we found rooms bookable for tonight. In doing a little internet research, it turns out Business Traveller confirmed that the hotel opened on Monday, May 28. Sneaky!
But despite the fact that it's opening weekend at the hotel, if you've got the cash, there are rooms still available. We found rates for 440GBP or about $678 USD for a superior guest room with a king bed, starting at about 430-sq.ft. That includes a marble bathrooms, a small sitting area, 42" flat-screen TVs, Nespresso coffee makers and best of all, free WiFi. Oh and of course, Bulgari bath toiletries.
We're still waiting to get a sneak peek inside the rooms but if the Bulgari London is on your bucket list, we recommend booking now. As the summer progresses and the Olympics draws nearer, rates won't be under 500 quid for a long, long, long time.
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Well, here we are. It's April and we've just learned that Bulgari London will not open this month. However, it will open on June 1, just in time for the Summer Olympics.
Not only do we have a more realistic opening date but we've also got some on-the-scene snapshots from our London spy. Our Hotel James Bond reports:
The exterior looks finished, but windows on the ground floor are still boarded up / covered, and you could see work ongoing in the rooms. The hotel sits diagonally across from Candy & Candy's One Hyde Park (where a number of apartments are available during the Olympics at a cool £100K+ a month should you be so inclined). It's steps away from Hyde Park, but I don't think there'll be much in terms of views from the rooms.
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The other week we were skeptical about the opening of the Bulgari London Hotel which was set for April but given that April is just a few weeks away, you'd think the hotel's website would have a little more going for it.
Nevertheless, according to luxury travel agent Virtuoso, the Bulgari London is indeed opening in April and Virtuoso guests will get a special opening rate of $697 a night. Boy, we'd hate to see what regular guests will have to pay.
Virtuoso guests will also get a $119 credit at the hotel's Bulgari Spa which sounds quite heavenly with 11 private treatment rooms, one double spa suite that includes its own steam room, jacuzzi and treatment room and a 25-meter pool made out of Vicenza stone featuring a mosaic in Bulgari colors of green and gold.
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There's nary a Bulgari toiletry in sight at the upcoming Bulgari London Hotel
The hotel's website currently says London 2012 and has put up a bunch of email addresses to inquire about the hotel, reservations, jobs and the accompanying residences on site.
While residences at the hotel are selling well--someone paid 7,000 per square foot for the unfinished penthouse that sits on top of the hotel--we've yet to see any construction images of the property nor have we heard any sort of peep about the rooms, amenities (obvs, there will be tons of Bulgari stuff everywhere) and starting room rates.
We know that all eyes will be on London for the Summer 2012 Olympics but we'll be keeping our well-trained hotel geek eyes on the London Hotel scene all year long as a deluge of hotels are expected to open. And of course, most of these hotels are opening just in time for the Olympics. Like the Bulgari London.
When we last checked in on the hotel, we had heard of a Spring 2012 opening date. But now, according to an article last month on the Business Traveller site, the 85-room luxury hotel with residences attached will open in April.
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We already knew that Bulgari was planning a London hotel but we had initially heard early 2012. Now it looks like it will open Spring 2012. There's also a website up although it doesn't have much going on--just the opening announcement, a rendering of the exterior (which looks like a Bulgari storefront) and that the hotel will be located in the uber-posh Knightsbridge nabe. (In fact, it will be on the site of the old Knightsbridge Palace Hotel.)
Milan Fashion Week has only just drawn to a close (for now), and the well-heeled flock are up to Paris for another round of runway shows, leaving the halls of the Bulgari Hotel Milan a bit quieter and the room rates a big less expensive, even if they do average $750 per night. When we stopped by recently, it was our final evening in Milan as well, and although we weren't into the idea of paying more than airfare for a single night here, we did grab a light dinner and drinks.
The Bulgari has a reputation. It's snobby, conservative, and mostly perfect for those on generous expense accounts. This is all true, but it also makes a pretty great 15 Euro bowl of spaghetti.