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Our little black book of enchanting places


Inside London's most expensive hotel room by Maggie O'Sullivan

Posted in HOTELS + VILLAS By Maggie O' Sullivan

On my way to the Lanesborough I witnessed an incident the Piccadilly line. Feeling rather rattled – it’s not every day the rush-hour push-and-shove erupts into an actual fight – I headed straight for the bar. ‘Welcome to the Library Bar,’ cooed a waitress, as she showed me to a green and gold sofa in a softly lit room filled with books and polished furniture. As I sat down I realised I hadn’t even noticed the new lobby on my way in. Could it be that it wasn’t all that different to the last time I was here?Well, yes and no. The Lanesborough has recently undergone a massive 19-month refurbishment, rumoured to have cost £80 million. The project was masterminded by the late Alberto Pinto whose brief was to strip the building, built in 1719 for the 2nd Viscount Lanesborough, back to its shell, then painstakingly put it all back together again. I used to come here when it first opened as a hotel in the 1990s, and as far as I could remember, the layout post-refurbishment looked much the same. So where had that £80 million gone?That’s easy. It went on more than 300 skilled craftsmen, from embroiderers to trompe l’oeil painters; on antique furniture and elaborate chandeliers, on 18th-century paintings and sculptures; on up-to-the-minute in-room technology. And it went on gold leaf. Lots and lots of gold leaf. The old hotel was rather gloomy – this version is much lighter and fresher, which apparently was precisely Alberto Pinto’s brief.But the real reason I was there was to get a look at the most expensive hotel room in London: the Lanesborough’s Royal Suite, yours for £32,000 a night. Mind you, it does have seven bedrooms, seven bathrooms, two sitting rooms and a dining room, and it does overlook Wellington Arch and Buckingham Palace Gardens.Regency isn’t everyone's cup of tea and this suite is very Regency indeed. However, it’s beautifully done, and I imagine the Prince Regent himself would have been very at home here (he’d have had trouble with the tablet-controlled room conditions and integrated entertainment systems). Oh and if you take the whole suite, you get the use of the hotel’s chaffeaur-driven Rolls-Royce Phantom.Back in the lobby again, I had a quick peak at the restaurant, Céleste. And very pretty it looked, too, bathed in a mellow, end-of-day light that flooded through the glass-domed ceiling. Chef Patron is Eric Frechon, a three-star Michelin chef at Le Bristol in Paris, who has installed his protégé, Florian Favario, at the hotel. Reviews have been mixed though nobody has had anything but praise for the service. But then, The Lainsborough – now part of the Oetker Collection, which owns and manages some of the finest hotels in the world – does have three members of staff to every guest. It makes that £32,000 a night seem like a bargain... Further information, The Lanesborough


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