Krug, cigars and all that jazz
If the Wellesley’s smart Knightsbridge address isn’t convincing enough, the courtesy Rolls-Royce parked at the hotel’s front door is further confirmation of its upmarket credentials.
Dating back to the 1920s, the building began its life as Hyde Park Corner tube station and is also the former home of the jazz and cabaret venue, Pizza on the Park.
It opened as a luxury hotel in 2012, offering guests Art Deco style and a flashback to the glamour of the Roaring Twenties – all from its prestigious location overlooking Hyde Park.
Setting it apart from other hotels in the area is its extensive selection of Cuban cigars, showcased in a walk-in humidor, which can be enjoyed on a private heated terrace.
For me, the Wellesley was a chance to relax and soak up the atmosphere of central London ahead of an early morning, long-haul flight from Heathrow. As an alternative to killing time at an airport hotel, it was certainly a treat.
Budget or boutique?
Describing itself as “boutique-grand”, this hotel prides itself on attention to detail and outstanding service. It oozes opulence and is clearly a choice for those who expect luxury and are prepared to pay for it.
Wining and dining
Fine dining is on offer at the hotel’s small and sophisticated Oval Restaurant where head chef Sebastiano Cioffi has devised authentic Italian menus. My waiter/sommelier was very attentive in suggesting perfect wine pairings for my crab tortellini and roast loin of lamb.
In a nod to the site’s musical heritage, a live jazz and fine-dining experience is available every Friday and Saturday when the restaurant menu is also available in the Jazz Lounge.
My early start left no time to sample the à la carte breakfast menu, offering everything from porridge to Italian platters. For those who like to start the day in style, The Wellesley champagne breakfast, complete with Scottish lobster omelette and a glass of Krug Grande Cuvée, will set you back £115.
My one-bedroom Noel Coward suite was befitting of a 1920s screen siren, with its sumptuous sofas, elegant décor and, of course, free movies on demand.
The bathroom was a real highlight, with its Italian marble finishes, standalone bathtub and its own TV (the smallest of three in my suite).
In all, there are 36 bedrooms and suites over seven floors, with the two uppermost floors devoted entirely to the penthouse.
Worth getting out of bed for
With so many of London’s attractions virtually on your doorstep, it’s difficult to justify languishing in the comfort of your room. Turning right from the front door, a ten-minute stroll took me to the gates of Buckingham Palace. Had I turned left, I’d have found myself at Harrods just as quickly. The Royal Albert Hall, Kensington Gardens and the Serpentine Gallery are also within easy striking distance on foot or by public transport.
For an authentic pub experience, the Grenadier in nearby Wilton Row is worth a visit. A tiny former officers’ mess, it has a unique pewter bar and is reputedly one of London’s most haunted pubs.
All guests can make use of the complimentary Rolls-Royce drop-off service on a first-come-first-served basis. Available for journeys within 1.5 miles of the hotel, it’s a perfect way to arrive at a fashionable restaurant or to upstage others turning up at the theatre.
If you’re pressed for time, the 24-hour courtesy butler service will relieve you of the burden of unpacking and attend to any other chores such as ironing.
The bathroom toiletries by Hermès were a lovely touch for added pampering and the Samsung tablet was useful for checking local events. Spa treatments and VIP shopping trips are available through the hotel’s partnerships with Grace Belgravia and the Burlington Arcade.
In my brief encounter with staff, I found them to be effortlessly efficient. I was treated as an esteemed guest, while at the same time being made to feel right at home.
Rates are per night and on a room-only basis, starting at £315 for a deluxe queen room. A one-bedroom park view suite is £915. The Wellesley,
11 Knightsbridge, London (020 7235 3535 www.thewellesley.co.uk)