The Illustrious Rosewood Hotel

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Rosewood Hotel London

          The first thing you notice as your Jaguar slinks through the Rosewood Hotel London’s majestic, domed carriage entrance at 252 High Holborn is the historic character of this Belle Époque building designed and completed in 1914 by H. Percy Monckton. Long before it became the luxurious 5-star hotel it is today, these buildings were the headquarters of the Pearl Assurance Company from 1914 to 1989. Then it became the Chancery Court, which presided over trusts and land owning laws in England and Wales until Rosewood took it over in 2013. The principal façades of these buildings as well as the interiors of the former East and West Banking Halls are all protected heritage sites with Listed Building status. This preservation work personifies the Rosewood Hotels & Resort’s core philosophy that each of their properties including The Carlyle in New York, the Rosewood Abu Dhabi, Jumby Bay in Antigua and the Rosewood Beijing in China all reflect “A Sense of Place®”. rosewoodhotels.com


Domesday Book

          Centrally nestled into the celebrated West End of London, the Rosewood has served as the backdrop for classic film and TV shows such as The Saint and The Politician’s Wife as well as the science fiction series Doctor Who. The hotel, now a favorite of royalty, international high society and celebrities such as Taylor Swift Katy Perry and John Mayer, all appreciate the privacy afforded by the hotel’s spacious private courtyard. This hushed sanctuary is set back from the hustle and bustle of the city and is accessible only to guests’ vehicles. The thoroughfares surrounding the hotel date back to Roman times. During the 14th and 15th centuries The Inns of Court were founded nearby, establishing the district as the center of the British legal system. Over time, residents of the neighborhood have included John Milton, Samuel Johnson, Sir Thomas More, Sir Francis Bacon and Charles Dickens. In fact, Dickens wrote Pickwick Papers while living here and set scenes from many of his novels in the area, including Pip and Herbert Pocket’s home in Great Expectations. The Manor of Holborn was even mentioned in the Domesday Book in 1086. Over the last century, High Holborn’s proximity to Drury Lane, Covent Garden, Fleet Street, Bloomsbury, numerous University of London colleges, important museums, influential galleries and the financial institutions of the city has kept it at the center of London life.


The Grand Manor House Wing

          The restoration of this historically rich property was overseen by the English Heritage Coalition to help assure the integrity of the site’s Banking Halls and the Rosewood’s seven-story marble staircase was maintained. This architectural tour de force made from seven different types of marble, some of which can no longer be found anywhere else in the world, ascends from either side of the entrance on High Holborn and rises through all the floors under a dramatic elliptical dome that rises to 166 feet. Its current value is estimated to be about $60 million dollars. The enchanting result is that the Rosewood has the ambience of a stylish London residence. Just past the serenity of the courtyard is the Rose Bronze Gallery, a vivid corridor connecting the hotel’s public spaces, designed by Tony Chi and Associates. The lobby is lavish in every detail from its black and white marble floor, gilded églomisé glass partitions and dramatic oak armoires filled with object de art.

There are 262 comfortable and perfectly appointed guestrooms and 44 suites that offer unparalleled privacy, warmth, quality and, dare I say it, nobility. Because this is a repurposed and landmarked building, all the rooms have charming and surprising spaces that make you feel like you are in an elegant private home or flat. The Rosewood’s eight signature ‘house’ suites are among London’s grandest and most spacious. My favorite is the Grand Manor House Wing, the only suite in the world to have its very own postcode. It also boasts its own private entrance on High Holborn as well as a private elevator. This “house” reeks with Old World Charm yet has all the state of the art technology one would expect in a contemporary house. Of course this six-bedroom sweet suite with a terrace and wood-burning fireplace comes with a price, $30K per night, which is not a concern for the princes and moguls who call this their “home away from home.”


The Mirror Room

          In the morning, we would reserve a couch in front of the fireplace in the Mirror Room, which has hands down the best breakfast buffet in London, complete with freshly baked croissants, scones and cakes, porridge with fresh fruit and homemade preserves and an enormous selection of teas, served sans bags and brewed the old-fashioned way. After brunch, I suggest you take a tour of the Churchill War Rooms, which commemorates the 50th anniversary of Sir Winson Churchill’s death this year. For an extra donation, you can get a private tour of the Cabinet Room the museum’s Director Phil Reed, and sit in Churchill’s chair, which is what Angeline Jolie, Brad Pitt and President Clinton have done. Although “ high tea “ here encapsulates the essence of British hospitality it is also an ideal spot for a social or business lunch. Another noteworthy feature is the hotel’s Sense Spa which features calming bamboo walls and wooden walkways over rippling water and pebble stones, that lead to seven treatment rooms, one of which is an exclusive couple’s suite. rosewoodhotels.com/en/london/dining/Mirror-Room


Scarfes Bar

          One of London’s chicest destinations is Scarfes Bar. This fun pub located in the Rosewood is named after the renowned British caricaturist Gerald Scarfe, who leant his ideas to the bar’s whimsical design. A number of Scarfe’s most amusing and conversational drawings, including those of Queen Elizabeth and the Beatles, dot the marble walls. He also created a living canvas where the entertaining ‘artfully current’ corner is regularly updated to keep patrons abreast of current affairs. Designed by interior designer Martin Brudnizki, Scarfes evokes a hospitable ambiance complete with a roaring fire at one end and wooden bar running along the other. Over 1,000 antique books line the shelves throughout Scarfes, giving the space the charm of a private English Library. There is a wide assortment of chairs to be found here, which adds an artful glamour to the room. I liked the 1870 lollipop rocking chair from New York, the 1950’s cocktail chairs and the bar stools which were inspired by an Edwardian arm chair, all a perfect place to perch and have a glass of champagne before heading out to the theater. Across the hotel’s courtyard is The Holborn Dining Room, which brings a young vibrant brasserie atmosphere to the historic quality of the space. The menu by Executive Chef Amandine Chaignot is a gourmand’s delight. Try the butter chicken or the Tawa Machli and finish with the poached Yorkshire Rhubarb or a Holborn Black Forest Coupe. holborndiningroom.com


          Additionally, The Rosewood has lavish event spaces that have hosted high profile parties, weddings and corporate meetings. Recently, Elizabeth Hurley attended legendary nightlife photographer Richard Young’s book party for Nightclubbing that captured a galaxy of stars including Keira Knightley, Sienna Miller, Claudia Schiffer and Jo Wood on the dance floor. The Rosewood, with its gracious rooms, impeccable service and omniscient concierge desk headed up by Ashley Harman, is London’s iconic new address. visitengland.com


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