For Mayfair grandeur, check into the Sheraton Grand London Park Lane – Scotland on Sunday Travel
Today it's one of London's most exclusive hotels but there was a time, during a break in its construction, that the Park Lane Hotel was nothing more than a skeletal frame that attracted the feathered population of nearby Green Park, keen to rest their wings.
Londoners quickly nicknamed it The Birdcage, a term of endearment acknowledged to this day courtesy of the hotel's signature Birdcage Afternoon Tea, which is served on a birdcage styled cake stand.When the Park Lane Hotel did open, in 1927, it encapsulated all the glamour of the Twenties and, even now, remains an expression of Mayfair grandeur. Indeed, the five star hotel, which became the Sheraton Grand London Park Lane in 2016 after a major renovation, was the first hotel in London to boast an en-suite bathroom in every room.Budget or BoutiqueHaving read many hotel descriptions in my time, most overstate the reality of what awaits, however, the art deco Park Lane more than lives up to its hype – it's almost impossible not to be 'swept away to an era of timeless elegance, charm and class’. It's a simply stunning building.Wining And DiningMany hotels have a Palm Court, few are as breath-taking as that of the Park Lane. Sit back and marvel at the marble, tapestries and high ceilings as you immerse yourself in late-1920s decadence at the very heart of the hotel.This is where the famous Birdcage Afternoon Tea happens but I've dropped in for a bite of lunch and another of their signature dishes, fish and chips with mushy peas. The fish, poached inside a wrap of crispy fried batter, is perfectly cooked. The chunky chips are fluffy on the inside with a nice outer bite but it's the homemade tartare sauce that lifts the experience to new heights – even the mushy peas, which I tend to avoid, win me over.Worth Getting Out of Bed ForCheck out the Smith and Whistle bar, named after comic book characters Detective Inspector Smith and his criminal nemesis and sometime drinking partner, socialite scoundrel Mr William Whistle – the pair held clandestine meetings in the bar of the Park Lane.Smith and Whistle boasts a selection of London's finest craft beers but it's their new cocktail range that has attracted me, a menu of mixes inspired by the sweets of yesteryear.There are five in all, and Food and Beverage Manager Cedric is happy to guide me through them starting with a Wish Upon A Star, a combination of rum, oat milk, malt and egg yolk - it's a liquid Milky Way. A sip of a Black Snow instantly takes me back to a childhood chewing penny Black Jacks, while the red fruits and cinnamon honey laced Tutti Frutti is evocative of that other chew of choice, the Fruit Salad. Finally, sweet and sour collide with the Limoncello and coconut cream based Sherbet Shower, the name says it all. For the kids, a Pure Imagination is a 'blitz' of banana and strawberry.Room ServiceFrom my classically modern Park View Suite, looking across Green Park towards Buckingham Palace, I have a stunning view. I could happily live in this one bedroom suite with its spacious hall, art decor-styled lounge, bedroom with king size bed and roomy vintage bathroom – the deep old school bath is a definite bonus.The Park View Suite is the ideal environment in which to relax watching a film on one of the suite's two 48 inch HD TVs while enjoying a freshly brewed Nespresso coffee. There's also complimentary access to the Club Lounge and fitness centre.Little ExtrasWander the hotel and keep an eye out for the Tudor Rose Room, where an eight-year-old Princess Elizabeth was taught to dance, and for the plaque that marks the spot where, in August 1986, Gary Kasparov and Anatoly Karpov faced off in that year's World Chess Championship. There's history at every turn and should you experience a sense of deja vu, it may be you've seen the 1955 Deborah Kerr movie The End of the Affair or the 2007 fantasy adventure The Golden Compass, starring Nicole Kidman and Daniel Craig, which both featured the hotel.Rooms at the Sheraton Grand London Park Lane start at £460 a night. Sheraton Grand London Park Lane, Piccadilly, London, W1J 7BX
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