Claridge's, luxury 5-star hotel in Mayfair
Why Claridge's Is the Best Hotel In the World
Imagine a world where no request is too outrageous, where the word "no" does not exist, and where the most difficult tasks—like cleaning an 800-piece crystal chandelier and transforming a grand ballroom into a secret garden (complete with grass flooring) for a one-night-only gala, seems effortless. This world exists, and it's called Claridge's.
The 197-room hotel, tucked away on Brook Street in London's Mayfair neighborhood, feels like an elegant, older woman; one that cracks a dirty joke with perfect comedic timing the moment you'd written her off as being too stodgy. The legendary lobby exudes a rich history and underlying femininity—a portrait of Mrs. Claridge, who founded and opened the establishment in 1854, still watches over the comings and goings of guests, business meetings, celebrity sightings and many servings of afternoon tea, finger sandwiches and scones from her prime real estate on the wall of the foyer.
As I walked through the revolving Art Deco doors, I spotted Joan Collins holding court in the lobby wearing a massive hat and her signature red lipstick. Unlike a hyped Los Angeles hotel where the presence of a VIP would overtake the atmosphere, or a New York property where the overall vibe would entail dozens of people trying to feign effortless ignorance to their existence, at Claridge's, Collins blended in. The same goes for the likes of Diane Von Furstenberg, Madonna and Carmen Dell'Orefice, who often frequent frequent the hotel's lobby and suites. The Queen is a fan as well.
If you have had the pleasure of staying the night, this is not groundbreaking news. But what really sets Claridge's apart is its understanding of luxury. Caviar, gold iPads, and furniture too precious to sit in isn't the Claridge's way. Instead, plush beds, traditional European décor paired with modern conveniences and an overall air of everything being "just right" without being overwrought, is the norm. Here, nothing is forced: the heavenly nature of a draped four-poster bed (like those in the Davies and Brook penthouses), spacious seating rooms, a private terrace overlooking London and attentive butlers on call 24/7 are what guests appreciate–and deem worthy of a £540 to £8,000 per night price tag. When it rains, grab the Burberry trench coat you have access to during your stay from your walk-in closet to brave the elements outdoors. If you prefer to keep it, simply take it with you and have it charged to your bill. Claridge's understands that convenience, not opulence, is the epitome of luxury.
It's important to acknowledge that the competition to be the best hotel in London, let alone the world, is stiff. Claridge's sister hotel in the Maybourne Group, The Connaught, sits only a five minute's walk from its front door, and caters to the elite just as elegantly. Elizabeth Taylor's hotel of choice, The Dorchester, is also just a short stroll away, and Middle Eastern royalty and socialites frequent its penthouses as often as one can hear a champagne cork pop during its renowned afternoon teas. That's before you've also considered The Goring, The Ritz, The Berkeley (also a Maybourne property) and Brown's along with the bevy of new openings that are catering to the younger crowds popping up all over the city, like the selection of Soho House properties, The Corinthia and Chiltern Firehouse. But Claridge's excels in providing the kind of service you didn't know you wanted or needed—until it's offered to you on a newly-polished silver platter.
Still, Claridge's is not for everyone. Someone who insists on contemporary furnishings may be out of luck with its Art Deco style, and those who prefer to be surrounded by wild floral arrangements may find the array of orchids too strict. But aspects of the undeniably traditional establishment are strategically modern–almost surprisingly so. You have access to McQueen's, the in-house florist, and Nicholas Oakwell, a bespoke dressmaker with a boutique in house. Naturally, you have the ability to dictate the plushness of your bed, pillow count and the furniture layout of your suite. And, if you're a bride who has booked your wedding with the hotel, your bridal suite is offered the night before your wedding compliments of Claridge's. You'll also find an Assouline library-come-bookshop; as well as fashion artist in-residence Donald Downton on hand to sketch well-styled, notable guests; The Fumoir, a sexy champagne bar with hundreds of varieties of bubbly; and two restaurant concepts from Michelin-star chef Simon Rogan.
Fera at Claridge's, Rogan's neo-English foraging concept with an open kitchen sits at the back of a grand deco dining room honors Britain's locally-grown ingredients, presenting them with whimsy in a way you'd least expect– like their riff on tartare: soup dumplings of veal served in a vibrant cold broth of oyster, apple and kohlrabi. At the back of the Fera's open-kitchen, the luckiest of diners can discover Aulis, the six-seat development table (read: laboratory) where a tasting menu of dishes that have not yet appeared at Fera is prepared in front of you and explained in process.
During my short stay, a member of the engineering department responded to my call for an adapter to plug my hair dryer. He showed up with multiple adapter options, used pliers to bend my slightly off-kilter prongs back to their original state and ensured I'd have a working tool throughout my stay. After requesting a clothing steamer to press my clothes for meetings, housekeeping supplied me with one instantly, replenishing the water tank daily. As I drove away from Claridge's after check out, the indelible imprint the place had left on me was the respect for my preference to do things myself. They knew without asking that if I wanted to have my palazzo pants sent out to be pressed or have a hair and makeup team on hand, I would have simply rang for my butler.
Claridge's; Brook St, London W1K 4HR, United Kingdom; +44 20 7629 8860.
Video: Hotel Claridges || New Delhi
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