In a world full of luxury hotels, with new ones opening all the time, which ones are the best? In our ongoing series, we share our finds. They’re hotels and resorts at which we’ve personally stayed (with no promotional consideration involved). We’d recommend these to friends and family – and to you, dear reader. In this edition of best luxury hotels in the world: the Beaumont in London.
a brief history of the beaumont in london
Imagine this: an American hotelier named Jimmy Beaumont tires of the the restraints of prohibition in New York City in the 1920’s, and decides to quit the business. His wealthy and devoted guests persuade him to go to London instead, to build his own hotel there.
When he makes the move, Beaumont brings old New York style and a adventurous sensibility to London, along with his brilliant friends and former guests from across the pond. They quickly mingle with their like-minded counterparts in England, and the stylish new hotel becomes their clubhouse. Decades pass, and the property begins to reflect both Beaumont’s exploits and his singular taste, and the whims and artwork of the subsequent hotel managers and other occupants of the space (including military officers during World War II).
The result of this mash-up of Manhattan and Mayfair? The swanky 5-star Beaumont Hotel.
We had never heard of the Beaumont when we asked our ace travel agent Judi – who is part of the Virtuoso network – where we should stay on a recent business trip to London. We knew we wanted to be in Mayfair, and other than that we were open to suggestions. She proposed a name that was completely new to us, and because she never steers us wrong, we acquiesced. And we are really glad that we did. This is a hidden gem, right in the heart of Mayfair.
Well, perhaps not so hidden: it won the award for best hotel in Mayfair and the #2 hotel in all of England from US News and World Report. And you can only imagine how tough the competition is, with the two grand dames – Claridge’s and the Connaught – just blocks away. It’s a very special place.
The exterior of the Beaumont London is unobtrusive. So much so that you might not even notice it if you didn’t know it was there. That’s because the building was once the car park for nearby luxury department store Selfridge’s. The 73-room property was renovated and transformed into a hotel property only about 5 years ago.
The Beaumont sits next to Brown Hart Gardens, an elevated public space built over an old power plant. That makes for a quiet and private setting, particularly at night. Yet it’s just two blocks away from the vibrant High Street in one direction, and the lovely Grosvener Park, Berkeley Square, and the tony shops of Mayfair in the other. It’s the perfect location from which to explore the joys of London on foot.
lobby and common areas
Once you step inside the Beaumont, you’re immediately transported to a gracious and smart era of high style.
The lobby features sleek Art Deco design, with a warm caramel, gold and chocolate brown color scheme. Classic black and white tiles cover the lobby floor. The space is just large enough – not so big and noisy that it feels frantic, but not so small that it feels claustrophobic. Like so many of the elements of this hotel, it’s just right.
This lobby is wonderful place to sit and read, work, or just people-watch, and lots of guests seem to do so. Afternoon tea is served here, and while it doesn’t feature the high drama of tea in an iconic setting like Claridge’s, it’s ideal for a quiet and private conversation when that’s what you’re in the mood for.
Throughout the hotel, you’ll find whimsical original artwork. One of the most-photographed pieces is a golden bust of a gentleman situated so that his reflection creates a shimmering light.
On the lower level, there’s a well-appointed 24-hour fitness center, a salon and a spa. It features a steam room and a sauna; a cold plunge pool; two treatment rooms; an ice bar; and a relaxation area.
food and drink
The Colony Grill Room is the hotel’s serene and elegant restaurant. The service is discreet and attentive, and the experience is wonderful. The Colony serves American and European cuisine and features maroon leather booths and 1920’s-era black-and-white portraits of celebrities. The painted murals on the walls celebrate the chic vacation spots frequented by the elites during the era between the two World Wars (as well as our own): Aspen, the French Rivera, and St. Moritz.
Given our name, we always pay special attention to lighting, and these romantic chandeliers are on our “lights we love” list.
The vibe here is a cool club of which you, luckily, are a member. Over breakfast we saw fellow guests dressed in understated-chic attire, most seemingly on their way to work or to a professional appointment. There were lots of gentlemen with scarves and sweaters tied nonchalantly around their necks, and women in smart dresses and kitten heels – purposeful people with very good taste.
The adjacent American Bar offers some of the best cocktails in London. It’s a lively bar for socializing, with lots of locals stopping in for breakfast and early-evening drinks.
One of the hidden treasures of the Beaumont is the guests-only club room tucked away adjacent to the lobby. It’s a cozy hideaway for early-morning breakfast and late-night drinks. There’s an honor bar, and loads of charm and privacy.
Just outside in the circular driveway sits the Beaumont’s resident vehicle: a 1986 Daimler Princess, available for short runs around town when a dramatic arrival is in order. (The driver told us that while the Queen drives a Bentley, many of the royals have always loved their Daimlers).
All 73 rooms have original artwork, king-sized beds and bathrooms with rain showers and heated floors. The rooms are spacious and the furnishings mimic the lobby: dark wood, black lamps, books about London and life in the 1920’s. Plus a very well-stocked mini-bar, two chocolate bars, fresh fruit, a deck of playing cards and a manual of card games.
We’re pretty sure that we had the best room in the house, thanks to our ace travel agent. Our lovely room at the top of the hotel had a magnificent balcony overlooking Brown Hart Gardens, and a terrace with a dining table and lounge chairs. Plus a jaunty Union Jack. It provided a magical way to greet the morning and celebrate the end of a good day.
The closets are spacious, and stocked with old-school wooden hangars with the hotel’s nameplate.
Bathrooms at the Beaumont are large and well-designed, with heated floors. The toiletries are from the Royal Warrant chemist and perfumer D.R. Harris.
The overall feeling is residential, in the best sense: it’s the guest room you wish your best friend in London had.
The service throughout the hotel is impeccable, and that includes room service. Upon check-in, we asked for a cup of tea and were rewarded with a lovely offering that included biscuits.
The tabletop appointments at the Beaumont are rich, heavy silver – polished coffee and tea pots, footed bowls and cutlery that feel as if they’ve been there for decades. It all made us feel grounded and well cared for after a long journey.
Take, for example, this grilled cheese sandwich. We think it might be the most elegant one we’ve ever seen. And yes, it was also delicious.
The property does very little promotion, growing its following mostly via word-of-mouth.
That has resulted in a clientele that appreciates what the Beaumont has to offer: style, elegance, personal service and discretion. The staff all know your name, but they won’t repeat it noisily and at great length just to prove that they do.
We loved the feeling that everything at this property is just so: plentiful, generous and gracious, but not overwhelming, ostentatious or showy. That’s a tough balancing act, executed here with great elan.
One small example? We were out late one evening, and when we returned to our room after a chilly walk in the night air, we found a surprise thermos of hot tea waiting for us. We’ve stayed in lots of luxury hotels, and that was a first for us.
It was Halloween week when we visited, and the holiday was celebrated Beaumont-style: clusters of jack-o-lanterns at the entrance and in the lobby, and trick-or-treaters from the neighborhood stopping by the Colony restaurant. Jolly and merry, and very much what this hotel represents: a deeply civilized refuge from the daily cacophony of life in a big city.
If you visit, at the hotel spa and in the lobby you’ll find proprietary candles from British perfumer Jo Malone. They read “Jo Loves The Beaumont.”
We do, too!
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