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  • Carli Philips

London Calling

The opening of the Peninsula hotel in London is the culmination of decades of planning, from the location to the landscaping. A first glimpse suggests it was worth the wait. By Carli Philips.

The Peninsula London building, designed by Hopkins Architects, overlooks Wellington Arch at the nexus of three Royal Parks. Photography by Will Pryce.

The decision makers at one of the world’s oldest legacy hotel groups, the Peninsula, took their time when deciding where to open their first London property. Since launching its Hong Kong flagship in 1928, the Peninsula has set the bar high for luxury hotels worldwide with impeccable service and timeless design. After three decades of scouting in the British capital, the group settled on Belgravia, between Hyde Park and Wellington Arch, just steps from Buckingham Palace and Knightsbridge.

The new property was designed by Hopkins Architects to fit seamlessly into the surrounding streetscape. To this end, its facade was built in basebed Portland stone, a material historically used in the city’s monuments and civic buildings. 

the triple-height lobby, with a hand-blown crystal chandelier. Photography by Will Pryce.

The hotel is oriented around a large courtyard landscaped by Enzo Enea with climbing jasmine, wisteria vines and two 120-year-old maple trees. For a property this size, the entrance is discreet, with a granite-cobbled forecourt leading to the hotel’s fleet of cars: Rolls-Royce Phantom IIs, hybrid Bentley Bentaygas, an electric vintage 1960 Austin taxi and a restored 1935 Rolls-Royce Phantom Sedanca de Ville. Manning the courtyard are the Peninsula’s famous pages, the esteemed pillbox cap-wearing attendants dressed head-to-toe in white.

A jaw-dropping triple-height lobby with burnt-orange chairs and crystal chandeliers serves an all-day menu, but the pièce de résistance is British afternoon tea, a lavish Peninsula tradition with sweet treats made by the hotel’s dedicated chocolatiers and pastry chefs.

Hungry for more? There are seven restaurants, lounges and bars, including Canton Blue, a four-dining-room Chinese eatery with booths featuring walls clad in colourful porcelain plates. The specialty dumplings are a must, and the lo hei salad is a standout — a “good fortune” dish popular over Chinese New Year made here with grapefruit, leek and capsicum.

Choose a drink from the 200-bottle wine list or the specialty tea menu. For post-dinner drinks, mixologists at the Little Blue bar whip up a creative menu of East-meets-West flavours behind a bar made from stacks of Chinese apothecary drawers. 

From a Grand Premier Park Room, guests can watch the daily parade of the Household Cavalry, Buckingham Palace’s mounted guards. Photography by Will Pryce.

The 190 light-filled guest rooms and suites have been designed by New York interiors and architectural practice Peter Marino, with a quintessentially Peninsula look and feel: pared-back yet plush, classic yet contemporary. Finishes are warm and richly textured, each room with its own mahogany-panelled dressing room and bathrooms with honey onyx stoneware and heated flooring. 

The Peninsula may be a heritage brand, but when it comes to technology, it’s more than up to speed. Rooms are filled with tablets, touchscreens, wireless charging pads, a gargantuan television and a bathroom “spa mode”, complete with dimmed lighting and serene music. Whatever the soundtrack, the Peninsula is unequivocally the star of the show. 

This is an extract from an article that appears in print in our tenth edition, Page 124 of Winning Magazine with the headline: “London Calling”. Subscribe to Winning Magazine today.  


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