London has never been short on fine hotels. A cruise through Mayfair and Piccadilly will take you past iconic names written in the annals of luxury London: Claridges. The Ritz. The Dorchester. Hotels where, if you have to ask the room rate, you likely can’t afford it.
But one name has been missing. Until now.
Since the first hotel opened in Hong Kong in 1928, The Peninsula has been a byword for elegant luxury in Asia. But it has taken nearly a century for one of the world’s most storied hotel brands to make its way to the British capital. That changed on September 12 2023 with the long-awaited opening of The Peninsula London in the chic streets of Belgravia.
It is a new-build hotel that has been 30 years in the making (finding the right location isn’t easy, apparently) and is being touted as London’s first billion-pound hotel. You don’t have to be a maths whizz to divide that by the hotel’s 190 rooms and suites to work out that no expense has been spared in creating a haven of Asian-infused opulence in the heart of the city.
The property centres on an off-street courtyard planted with two century-old Japanese maples, a space landscape designer Enzo Enea has filled with flowering wisteria and climbing jasmine to offer a subtle fragrance of Asia.
After check-in, the uniformed bellhops — a classic touch typical of The Peninsula — whisk your luggage to your suite. And, for a European city hotel, they’re enormous. The rooms start at 50m² and head skywards, with elegantly understated décor by interior designer Peter Marino. He’s the man behind Cheval Blanc Paris, who has created spaces for Chanel, Hublot and Louis Vuitton.
Rooms are filled with bespoke furniture, mahogany-panelled dressing rooms and walls decked with original artworks from The Royal Drawing School. Throw in discreet touches by fashion designer Jenny Packham and perfumer Timothy Han, and this new address neatly combines a sense of English classicism coupled with Asian elegance. And out the window? Look forward to dramatic views of Wellington Arch, Hyde Park and Belgravia.
Need a lift across town? Forget about waiting for an Uber. The hotel’s fleet includes a Rolls-Royce Phantom, hybrid Bentley Bentaygas and an electrified vintage Austin taxi.
Or, stay put. The hotel’s impressive food and beverage offering won’t leave you hungry.
Beyond its all-day menu, The Lobby takes the age-old tradition of afternoon tea and adds a dash of The Peninsula’s panache. It’s a feature of Peninsula hotels worldwide, and here in the “home” of the tradition, it’s an impressive affair that includes Lobster Thermidor Tart and Coronation Chicken.
But The Peninsula’s Asian roots come to the fore in Canton Blue, a sexy cocktail and Cantonese dining space that takes a culinary lens to the Asian spice routes. Leave time for a cocktail at Little Blue, which captures those Sino-British flavours in a glass.
If you’d like your dinner with a side order of views, head on up to Brooklands. The hotel’s signature rooftop restaurant boasts remarkable vistas across the city, with a menu of modern British cuisine by Michelin-starred chef director Claude Bosi. If dinner’s too dear for your wallet, make do with a cocktail at Brooklands bar, gazing out towards Battersea and S. Paul’s.
While the first guests are in, the hotel’s not quite complete. October sees The Peninsula Spa and Wellness Centre open, offering everything from indulgent wellness to a 25m indoor swimming pool, with a quartet of even more opulent suites set to open in December.
It’s an exciting time to be a well-heeled traveller in London, with Raffles London about ready to welcome its first guests, and Mandarin Oriental Mayfair not far behind. It is, as the old joke goes, like a London bus: you wait ages for one to come along, then two (or three) arrive at the same time. Not that we’re complaining.