Traveling to the U.K. for the first time since the pandemic began – and now, thankfully, without the need for Covid tests and burdensome paperwork – I did not necessarily expect to find the same pre-pandemic London that I so fondly remembered. However – as clearly evidenced by the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations last week – I am happy to report that London is back! To my pleasant surprise, London was very much alive, its shops, bars, and restaurants full of customers, and its streets buzzing with activity.
While I usually stay in Mayfair or Marylebone, I decided on this trip to try someplace new, and on a recommendation booked my stay at the five-star Rosewood London, set near Covent Garden just off the Holborn tube stop. The luxury Rosewood Hotel Group is expanding quickly in Europe, with upcoming openings planned in Vienna, Amsterdam, and Rome, among others, and a much ballyhooed second London outpost set to open in the former U.S. Embassy building on Grosvenor Square in 2024.
For the time being, however, Rosewood has London well-covered with its stunning and historic Edwardian-style hotel on High Holborn Street, which has become a favorite of celebrities from Drake to Justin Bieber. The structure was first completed in 1914, and for 75 years served as the headquarters of the Pearl Assurance Company.
The extraordinary property was then transformed from an office building to a luxury hotel, known in its most recent iteration as the Chancery Court Hotel (hence the “CC” in the Rosewood London’s logo). After extensive renovation, the hotel was reopened in late 2013 as the Rosewood London, and has since taken its place among London’s finest hotels.
Perhaps my favorite feature of the hotel is the very first thing that you experience when you arrive – entry to the property via a carriageway entrance and dome which leads to a grand courtyard, providing a refuge off the busy main street and allowing for discreet entry into the hotel. One is made to feel like they are arriving at an embassy or a countryside estate rather than a hotel. In short, the entrance could not be any more British.
But there is much more to the Rosewood London than its stunning courtyard entry. The lobby is gorgeous, from the black and white marble mosaic flooring to the large featured painting by Argentinian artist Eduardo Hoffmann depicting the rolling English countryside.
Featuring Cuban mahogany and rich marbles, the public areas of the hotel are sophisticated, with just the right amount of whimsy. The most memorable and dramatic interior feature of the hotel is the seven-story Italian Renaissance-style marble grand staircase which rises up from the High Holborn entrance of the hotel.
It is this staircase which led to my suite, one of the nicest I have ever stayed in. While the Rosewood features spacious rooms throughout, this beautiful suite featured a long foyer, large sitting room and powder room, a refrigerator filled with unique snacks, and a well-stocked bar that was anything but mini. The décor of the suite was elegant and, appropriately, very British – but at the same time I very much appreciated the Italian marbled bathroom and exquisite Rivolta Carmignani Italian linens.
The room came equipped with a Nespresso machine and Dyson hairdryer, but – if I’m being honest – I must admit that the Rosewood had me at the personalized monogrammed pillowcase that greeted me at my bed. As I’ve said before, it’s the little touches that separate the good hotels from the great.
Dining options at the Rosewood are highlighted by the Holborn Dining Room, described by the hotel as a “bustling brasserie with a menu of British dishes with a twist.” While I was able to check out the restaurant’s beautiful red leather banquette seating, I did not have an opportunity to sample the delicacies of the restaurant’s acclaimed Pie Room. That is on the to-do list for my next visit.
Also on the to-do list is to spend more time at the Rosewood’s fantastic award-winning Scarfes Bar, the quintessential London bar. Named after renowned British artist and caricaturist Gerald Scarfe, the bar’s marble walls are a canvas featuring the artist’s quirky illustrations – a contrast to the traditional luxury of the rest of the bar (for example, the more than 1,000 antique books on display at the bar).
Scarfes features live jazz music and what has to be one of the world’s great collections of whiskey, with over 500 types to choose from. A cozy booth near Scarfes’ roaring fireplace is a great spot to end an evening. But Scarfes is incredibly popular, and on busy nights non-hotel guests may not be able to get a table… yet another reason to be staying at the Rosewood.
I hope, however, to make it back to London before the end of the summer, and the Rosewood London has now given me another great reason to return – the launch of La Veranda by Patrón Tequila, transforming the iconic Rosewood courtyard into a Tulum-inspired hideaway.
Launching June 16 and inspired by Rosewood’s Mexican properties, the collaboration with Patrón Tequila promises to bring a “taste of Mexico” to central London with Latin-infused live music and Mexican decor including Aztec rugs, rattan furniture and large agave plants. Signature drinks and an authentic Mexican menu will transport your tastebuds south of the border.
And while I would be happy sipping a “Patrón Paloma” and eating great guacamole just about anywhere, the renderings of La Veranda make clear that it will be a London hotspot in the summer of 2022. Hip Hip, Olé!