SW1E 6AF Travel Guide
Looks like Indian group Taj Hotels is grabbing 2014 by the horns and using a new year to clean up an old oddity in its London portfolio. For years it has owned two hotels on Buckingham Gate: 51 Buckingham Gate, with its Jaguar and Cinema Suites, and the Crowne Plaza St. James next door. Yes, that is Crowne Plaza as in the InterContinental Hotels Group brand.
Together, the two hotels occupy parts of eight six-story houses from the late 1800s: King’s, Queen’s, Prior’s, Falconer’s, Minister’s, Almoner’s, Duke’s, and Regent’s House, surrounding a shared courtyard. While the hotels will remain separate, the Crowne Plaza name is officially disappearing from the doors as of this week, with the hotel being reflagged as The St. James’ Court, A Taj Hotel.
We'll be the first to admit that even when we aren't staying in hotels, we're all for hanging out in them. Heck, that's what the all the restaurants, bars and shops are forguests aren't the ones having all the fun. For this reason, nothing delights us more than discovering a secret little niche, an oasis of calm within a hotel within a metropolis.
And we just found one, and we're sharing it with you because you likely feel the same way about these secret hotel places. It's The Espresso Bar at the Crowne Plaza London - St. James in London, and it's cute and quiet and just around the corner from tourist and business centers like Buckingham Palace, St. James' Park and Victoria Station.
There's no free WiFi (shame on you, Crowne Plaza), but if you'd like to take your cappuccino outside, the hotel also hides a lovely little alfresco garden you've got to walk all the way through the lobby and the hotel bar to reach.
Most hotels would be satisfied with just having a luxury Jaguar ride onsite to squire guests around town but the 51 Buckingham Gate Hotel in London has gone all out with the first-ever Jaguar Suite, set to open in September.
The 1,832-square-foot, two-bedroom residential-style suite is the result of a new partnership between two TATA-owned companies, Taj Hotels Resorts and Palaces and of course, Jaguar. So what's inside?
Well, Jaguar Design Director Ian Callum and his designers have taken materials from the cars--leather, metal and high gloss veneer--and worked them into the suite like the sleek wood panelling in the entry, the Jaguar damask that lines the bedroom walls, a clean-fuel fireplace that looks like the Jag's rear window and get this, custom-made Jaguar wallpaper. Let the Shaguar jokes begin!
What do you think of when you hear the word "Buckingham"? OK, yeah. Wills and Kate. But we're not talking Buckingham Palace--we mean 51 Buckingham Gate, the Taj Hotel that's not too far from the royal's HQ.
Even still, the word "Land Rover" is not one we'd usually associate with such a posh property. But off-roading is now on tap at 51 Buckingham, with the hotel's Land Rover at 51 Package.
Would Obama stay here? Umm...
We’re always up for hotel refurbs here at HotelChatter, so it’s nice to see 51 Buckingham Gate are keeping their rooms ticking over – they just renovated five suites at a cost of a cool $1.8million. Apparently:
The inspiration behind the renovation was to extend a feeling of tranquility, evoked by 51's unique setting, positioned around a secluded courtyard garden - a rarity in central London.
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Not to be trumped in the posh stakes by the Dorchester’s Harvey Nicks shopping package, the posh 51 Buckingham Gate (owned by Taj, next door to Buckingham Palace) has come up with its own posh partnership.
The Harrods at 51 Buckingham Gate package gives you bed and breakfast accommodation, free evening cocktails, a chauffeured ride in a Jaguar to and from Harrods, £100 off your purchases, access to the Harrods personal shopping service and “membership to Harrods Rewards’ prestigious black tier level” (whatever that is – we’re too poor to do anything in Harrods except look at the tacky Diana memorial).
What’s interesting about this, though, is the price – it starts at £330 ($488) per night, and when they ran a very similar promotion at the end of last year, prices started at an absurd £550.
Yes, these people will happily pocket your cash
Are you part of the mega-rich? Do you lie awake at night, worrying about what to do with all those $100 bills which are currently acting as stuffing for your mattress? Yes? Then fret no more, because we have found the package for you.
The understated-but-seriously-swish 51 Buckingham Gate, neighbour to the queen, Taj property and purveyor of pawsh BBQs, has teamed up with Harrods for their imaginatively named Harrods at 51 package.
As you might surmise, it’s pretty bling. The package consists of three nights B&B accommodation, a chauffeured Jaguar to Harrods, £100 gift card, 10% off stuff from the Food Hall, membership to the “Harrods Rewards” loyalty program and an invite to their personal shopping service. Oh, and they’ll throw in a cocktail-n-canapés reception in the evening for when you come back exhausted from flexing your little manicured fingers all day long.
Summer finally arrived in London this weekend (and we mean actual heat; 27 degrees, or 80F) which means barbecues are in order (as well as stripping off and hitting the parks).
Those who are too gourmet/lazy to do a bit of grilling themselves, though and to be fair, it's hard for the gardenless in the city should mosey down to 51 Buckingham Gate (Taj’s London pad which, as the name suggests, is just around the corner from Buckingham Palace).
They’ve installed a huge BBQ in their courtyard 'round the side, which will, weather permitting, be dishing out BBQ grub every night until September 16th. And it's no scraggy bun-fest either; these meals are being planned by the hotel's Michelin-starred chef Sriram Ayur.
OK, so we're on the look out for good British Hotels, because so far there are lots of stories of bad British hotels. Turns out, larger, longer stay British hotels may be worthy of consideration. The five star London hotel, 51 Buckingham Gate not only provides apartment style living with a dedicated concierge, but also gives guests with allergies a whole lot more than Kleenex.
They are sure living up to their 2004 status of "Considerate Hotel of the Year" award by teaming up with Allersafe. They are now the first UK hotel to offer the Healthy Sleep System which uses anti-allergy fiber, Amicore Pure for linens.
It doesn't stop at the sheets, however.
The comfort and well-being of our guests is of utmost importance to us," says Sarah Kassem, head of housekeeping at 51 Buckingham Gate. We have many facilities in place to cater for guests who may suffer food allergies and we operate a chemical-free spa; the introduction of the Allersafe system completes the offering.
Even if you have never broken out in hives, had asthma, or eczema, this is a British hotel that could actually be worth checking into!
· 51 Buckingham Gate Reviews [TripAdvisor]
· London Anti-Allergen Sleep System Hotel [Leisure Opportunities]
· Royally Shafting British Hotels For The Web Reader [HotelChatter]