Traveling to the UK for the first time since the pandemic began – and now, thankfully, without the need for Covid tests and tedious paperwork – I didn’t necessarily expect to find the same pre-pandemic London I remembered so fondly. However – as the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations made clear last week – I’m happy to report that London is back! To my pleasant surprise, London was bustling with life, its shops, bars and restaurants packed with shoppers and its streets buzzing with activity.
Although I usually stay in Mayfair or Marylebone, I decided to try somewhere new on this trip and, on a recommendation, booked my stay at the five star Rosewood London, located near Covent Garden, just a next to Holborn tube station. Luxury hotel group Rosewood is expanding rapidly in Europe, with upcoming openings planned in Vienna, Amsterdam and Rome, among others, and a second high-profile London outpost set to open in the former US Embassy building. on Grosvenor Square in 2024.
For now, however, Rosewood has London well covered with its beautiful, historic Edwardian-style hotel on High Holborn Street, which has become a celebrity favorite from Drake to Justin Bieber. The structure was first completed in 1914 and served for 75 years as the headquarters of the Pearl Assurance Company.
The extraordinary property was later transformed from an office building into a luxury hotel, known in its most recent version as the Chancery Court Hotel (hence the ‘CC’ in the Rosewood London logo). After extensive refurbishment, the hotel reopened in late 2013 as Rosewood London and has since taken its place as one of London’s top hotels.
My favorite feature of the hotel is perhaps the very first thing you encounter when you arrive – entering the property through a pavement entrance and a dome that leads into a large courtyard, providing a haven from the street lively main building allowing a discreet entrance into the hotel. It feels like arriving at an embassy or country estate rather than a hotel. In short, the entry could no longer be British.
But there’s more to Rosewood London than its magnificent courtyard entrance. The lobby is gorgeous, from the black-and-white marble mosaic floor to the large featured painting by Argentinian artist Eduardo Hoffmann of the rolling English countryside.
Featuring Cuban mahogany and rich marble, the hotel’s public spaces are sophisticated, with just the right amount of whimsy. The hotel’s most memorable and dramatic interior feature is the grand, seven-story Italian Renaissance-style marble staircase that rises from the hotel’s High Holborn entrance.
It was this staircase that led to my suite, one of the most beautiful in which I have stayed. While the Rosewood offers spacious rooms, this beautiful suite featured a long entry hall, a large living room and powder room, a refrigerator stocked with unique snacks, and a well-stocked bar that was anything but mini. The decor in the suite was elegant and, understandably, very British – but at the same time, I very much appreciated the Italian marble bathroom and the exquisite Italian Rivolta Carmignani linens.
The room was equipped with a Nespresso machine and a Dyson hair dryer, but – if I’m being honest – I have to admit the Rosewood got me to the personalized monogrammed pillowcase that greeted me at my bed. As I’ve said before, it’s the little touches that separate good hotels from great ones.
The Rosewood’s dining options are highlighted by the Holborn Dining Room, which the hotel describes as a “bustling brasserie with a menu of British dishes with a twist.” While I was able to discover the restaurant’s beautiful red leather banquettes, I did not have the opportunity to taste the delights of the restaurant’s famous Pie Room. It’s on the to-do list for my next visit.
Also on the to-do list is spending more time at Rosewood’s fantastic award-winning Scarfes Bar, London’s quintessential bar. Named after the famous British artist and cartoonist Gerald Scarfe, the bar’s marble walls are a canvas featuring the artist’s original artwork – a contrast to the traditional luxury of the rest of the bar (eg the more than 1,000 old books on display at the bar).
Scarfes features live jazz music and what must be one of the largest whiskey collections in the world, with over 500 types to choose from. A cozy booth by Scarfes’ roaring fireplace is a great place 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 stay at the Rosewood.
I hope to return to London before the summer is over though, and 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 refuge.
Launching on June 16 and inspired by the Mexican properties of Rosewood, the collaboration with Patrón Tequila promises to bring a “taste of Mexico” to central London with Latin-influenced live music and Mexican decor including Aztec carpets, rattan furniture and large agave plants. Signature drinks and an authentic Mexican menu will transport your taste buds south of the border.
And while I’d be happy to sip a “Patrón Paloma” and eat some great guacamole just about anywhere, the renderings of La Veranda clearly indicate that it’s going to be a London hotspot in the summer of 2022. Hip Hip , Ole!