Against all odds, London is booming in luxury hotels
(Bloomberg) – On its first day of post-lockdown operations in September 2020, the Rosewood London hosted just 20 guests in its 308 elegantly monochrome rooms and suites. For a hotel that would see 80% occupancy in a normal year with visitors attending shows at the Proms or shows at London Fashion Week, the muted response was unprecedented, but also somewhat expected. .
The recovery of tourism in London has been a surge. Although it overtook Paris, Berlin, Rome and Barcelona for hotel business in 2021, it only recorded an occupancy rate of 36.7% for the full calendar year. And 2022 has yet to deliver the full return to normality everyone in the industry hoped for: visitors are still hesitant to approach major cities as omicron and its variants derail plans, let alone the continued absence of high-spending Chinese (and now Russian travellers).
But there’s reason to believe a comeback story is near.
All Covid travel measures have been dropped for entry into the UK in March. And tourists, whether they are returning or venturing to London for the first time, have more choice than ever about where to stay.
In 2021, 26 hotels opened in the capital, adding 4,200 rooms, almost half of which are four- and five-star accommodation, according to London-based promotions agency, London & Partners. A further 46 properties are set to open in the city this year, and of their 5,500 rooms, some 2,500 are on the luxury side of the spectrum. In the pipeline, beacon-worthy debuts from bold brands that didn’t yet exist here: Raffles, Peninsula and Waldorf Astoria.
The most recent data in mid-March from hotel information firm STR shows a steady recovery in the first quarter of this year, when occupancy peaked at 58.8%, around three-quarters pre-pandemic activity. While it doesn’t break down occupancy levels by accommodation type, leisure-oriented luxury hotels fare significantly better in general than business-travel-dependent standby hotels. Rosewood chief executive Michael Bonsor says the volume of bookings from the United States has increased every week since February, while the easing of restrictions in much of Asia has helped provide a willing clientele. to book extended stays in the best suites.
“London has been at the forefront of the real estate industry for many years. To be truly established, any major hotel brand must have a presence here,” says Rafael Serrano, Chairman and CEO of Prime Investors Capital. The company has acquired the landmark Admiralty Arch faced Buckingham Palace in 2012 and is currently overseeing its no-cost transformation into a hotel to be managed by Hilton’s Waldorf Astoria.”It was a no-brainer to continue investing in what is by far one of the best capitals in the world. world.”
Consumers are the real winners. With competition intensifying, even London stalwarts – Claridge’s, Dorchester, Connaught and Berkeley among them – are upping their game. Here is a brief overview of the most notable players in the luxury hotel market in London.
A bastion of luxury in London for centuries, Claridge’s is nearing the end of a six-year renovation to fill in its modern-era shortcomings. Among the things that guests increasingly took issue with were the lack of a pool and proper spa; the hotel will now have both, in a new basement 100 feet below the existing property workers have dug to create space for new amenities. Other additions include an on-site bakery, cinema, and new shops, plus redesigned rooms in cream and pink tones.
To top it off, a three-bedroom penthouse suite will occupy the entire newly constructed top floor. In addition to all the expected perks, Claridge’s immensely privileged guests will experience a half-acre private landscaped garden with ornamental pond, rooftop swimming pool and two decorative pavilions to house a grand piano and relaxation area. welfare. Currently open
Park Lane stalwart The Dorchester, another of London’s grand dames, is undergoing its most extensive refurbishment since 1989. While the hotel remains open, guests will have to wait until September to see the transformation in full effect. Inveterate interior designer Pierre-Yves Rochon is revamping the hotel’s entrance, its Promenade pillared lobby-lounge, and a slew of rooms and suites, while Martin Brudnizki Design Studio will revamp the bar with his signature maximalist style .
This builds on changes that have been rolled out over several years, including a total refresh of the dining spaces to now include the three-star Cantonese restaurant China Tang, Alain Ducasse and the modern British restaurant The Grill, the latter now under stewardship of 29-year-old star chef Tom Booton. Among its most popular additions: a “pudding bar” where you can watch the pastry chefs at work while enjoying your own dessert. Currently open
Raffles London at the OWO
Steps from the Houses of Parliament, this 120-key hotel (and its 85 sprawling private residences) occupies the colossal Old War Office in Whitehall, which served as the workplace of the likes of Winston Churchill and the creator of James Bond, Ian Fleming. Opened in 1906, the Edwardian landmark is undergoing a renovation that has required hundreds of craftsmen to embellish its original hand-laid mosaic floors and colossal marble staircase. It will be the first London outpost of the brand best known for its iconic hotel in Singapore.
When the first customers check in, they’ll find food at 11 restaurants and bars, including three establishments by Mauro Colagreco, the chef behind former best restaurant in the world Mirazur; he has yet to reveal many details and has his hands on another luxury hotel in Dubai. Raffles London will feature a four-level spa and wellness center with its own juice bar and yoga studio. The Signature Suites, meanwhile, will occupy the former offices of notable figures, including Churchill. The most desirable will occupy the corner turrets. Opening end of 2022
A gleaming new build virtually adjacent to Hyde Park, Britain’s first Peninsula hotel will reference the brand’s Hong Kong flagship with a chic Cantonese restaurant, a stately entrance (a rarity in London) and a grand colonnaded lobby. The Peninsula generally favors soft-colored palaces with soothing styles, so this may be an outlier: the hotel’s 190 light-flooded rooms and suites are designed by the daring Peter Marino.
It is not yet known whether Marino will also design the nine boutiques that will occupy the Peninsula’s shopping arcade; the rooftop views will offer plenty to look at, whether he puts his touch to it or not. The location promises to be unusually bucolic for central London, with Hyde Park, Green Park and the delicate rooftops of Knightsbridge residences all in close proximity. Opening early 2023
Admiralty Arch Waldorf Astoria
Save Buckingham Palace, there will be no better place to stay in London during royal events such as the upcoming Jubilee or Trooping the Color than the future 100-room Admiralty Arch Waldorf Astoria. The succession of three huge arches that give this grand monument its name span the red carpet causeway known as the Mall, which the Queen and other notable figures use as a processional route to the palace. The floors supported by these arches will be converted into bedrooms and dining rooms, all opening directly onto the pageantry.
During less festive times of the year, guests can enjoy a building with spectacular bones. There are high ceilings even on the lower floors, and an expansive roof terrace overlooks Trafalgar Square and the Houses of Parliament. The owners of the hotel are building several new lower levels which will contain a ballroom and a gym with a 20 meter swimming pool. Opening in 2024
London’s second Rosewood will soon occupy the site of the former US Embassy in Grosvenor Gardens, just minutes from the Mayfair territory of Bond Street. Retaining the original building shell but nothing else, it is redesigned by architect Sir David Chipperfield to evoke the atmosphere of a British gentlemen’s club. That means rich walnut paneling, muted brass accents, and art deco flourishes alongside a spa designed by Yabu Pushelberg, famous for such notable hotels as the Four Seasons Downtown New York and the Miami. Beach Edition. Opening in 2024
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