Thanks in part to the convergence of two major events—the 2011 wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton and the 2012 Summer Olympic Games—the London hotel scene has been undergoing a flurry of new construction and major renovation. The iconic Savoy reopened after a three-year restoration at the end of 2010, but that was just the tip of the iceberg. Here are some of the most significant projects:
The casually elegant St. Ermin’s Hotel has undergone a major makeover following purchase of the property by Amerimar Enterprises. Public spaces at the 1899-era Victorian-style hotel, ideally situated on a quiet street around the corner from Buckingham Palace and St. James’s Park, have been painstakingly restored and brightened, while the 331 guest rooms and suites now sport the latest technology, plush bedding, and modern bathrooms. Among the 15 meeting spaces at the St. Ermin’s are the stunning Crystal ballroom, with a wraparound balcony, and the Cloisters room, both restored to their historic glory. The ballroom/balcony holds 220 people for a banquet or 300 for a reception, and the Cloisters accommodates 160. A terrace overlooking a charming garden courtyard at the entrance to the horseshoe-shaped hotel can be used for events as well. Meetings are catered by the hotel’s restaurant, the Caxton Grill, which focuses on modern British and European cuisine and local ingredients.
Another historic property, the Corinthia, was once a hotel but long ago became home to the Ministry of Defense. It’s reverted back to its original purpose following a major overhaul. The Whitehall property includes 294 rooms, seven suites, and a new spa. Harrod’s operates a shop on site. The Corinthia has six private meeting rooms and a luxuriously appointed ballroom.
The newly constructed 192-room W London–Leicester Square has brought the brand’s young vibe to the heart of the city’s entertainment district in Leicester Square. An outpost of Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s Spice Market is a highlight. Meeting spaces include a 39-seat screening room equipped with all the latest entertainment technology, and two private studio rooms.
The Four Seasons Hotel London at Park Lane, which debuted in 1970, reopened in 2011 after a major face-lift. Among the 192 wood-paneled guest rooms are 45 one-, two-, and three-bedroom suites. The “classical contemporary” property includes about 8,500 square feet of meeting space, including a modern ballroom and seven function rooms. A 10th-floor spa overlooks many of London’s iconic sites.
St. Pancras Renaissance London Hotel, a noteworthy example of the Gothic Revival style, reawakened in 2011 after being mothballed since 1935. Some 207 guest rooms are divided into various wings at the railway station hotel, which has served as a set for a number of movies. Meeting spaces, accommodating groups of up to 550, have been restored to their Victorian splendor.
It’s not billed as a meetings property, but technophiles will want to know about Eccleston Square Hotel, which debuted in mid-2011 and goes way beyond the free Wi-Fi model. The 39 guest rooms sport 46-inch 3-D LED televisions and $19,000 Hästens massaging beds from Sweden. The rooms, while small, are furnished with two iPads on the nightstand—which can be used to order room service or book a massage. A glass wall separating the bedroom and bath converts from clear to opaque at the flip of a switch.