Following an extensive renovation of a 100-year-old Edwardian Belle Époque building, the first Rosewood property in Europe opened its doors last October
By Jonny Clark
Behind a grandiose archway and an ornate wrought iron fence on High Holborn lies the Rosewood London. Its entry opens upon a cobbled courtyard with a blazing fire pit, fleet of Jaguars, and manicured topiary trees. Footmen flank the courtyard dressed in shooting jackets and flatcaps, and doormen wear traditional British crombie coats, all designed by British couturier Nicholas Oakwell. Enter through a glass-paned corridor set in gleaming rose bronze—just one of the hotel’s opulent features—made with more than US$1.5 million of the polished metal. At the reception desk, the sounds of finches in ornate Chinese birdcages announce your arrival.
The Look: Housed in a stately heritage-listed building, the 100-year-old Edwardian Belle Époque structure was once the headquarters for an insurance company. Following a three-year renovation process, warm Cuban mahogany and seven types of marble bedeck formerly austere interiors. Lauded designer Tony Chi makes the Rosewood feel akin to a modern London home—and a very chic one at that—with stunning oak armoires and a parchment reception desk that effortlessly complement the hotel’s modern confines. Common spaces feature eclectic artworks like a one-off painting by Chilean artist Eduardo Hoffmann displaying the rolling countryside surrounding an English country estate alongside playful English bulldog statues that guard the elevators. The Mirror Room, a main dining space, features hundreds of fragmented mirror pieces, each uniquely angled. The space comes to life at night when candles reflect shimmering light upon the ceiling.
The Rooms: Chi continues his interior curatorial talents in each of the 262 rooms and 44 suites. Dressed in timeless muted tones, rooms contain rich striped carpets, tartan curtains, and buttery leather armchairs. Custom oak furniture and black lacquered woods are repeated throughout, paired with gray marble accents and mirrored dressers. Even basic rooms that face the rear of the property offer views of the London Eye, Holborn, and Lincoln’s Inn Fields, with higher-level rooms offering rooftop views and distant sightings of South London. In the bathrooms, polished metal showers and sinks display aromatic amenities by Czech and Speake. All suites have dedicated butlers, who pay close attention to personal details. During a recent stay, a butler presented a freshly grilled plate of chicken for our dog, prepared specially by the chef.
Spread across two levels, the distinctive Dome Suite’s giant circular window offers views onto High Holborn itself. Moreover, The Manor House Wing is a self-contained residence when a presidential suite simply won’t do. With its very own postcode and private entry staffed by a personal doorman, its six bedrooms and communal spaces are spread over 585 square meters filled with artful Phaidon and Taschen books. Objets d’art referencing London are tucked around the residence, and freshly cut flowers come from the posh McQueens florist, a local favorite among fashion designers and wedding planners. Even with a nightly rate of US$30,000, occupancy hovers around 70 percent.
The Appeal: Scarfes Bar is a welcome addition to the city’s drinking scene, replete with a roaring fireplace surrounded by cozy Chesterfield sofas. Bow-tied mixologists concoct custom cocktails from a selection of 60-odd gins. Playful artworks by the eponymous British cartoonist Gerald Scarfe adorn the wood-paneled walls featuring the likeness of the royal family, the Rolling Stones, and an illustration of Pink Floyd’s The Wall album cover. If the drinks at Scarfes whet your palette, finish the evening at The Holborn Dining Room, a casual brasserie serving traditional English fare. The hotel’s well-appointed Sense Spa, situated in the basement, has seven bamboo-walled treatment rooms with individual steam showers. Not to be missed is the Sodashi Samadara facial, an indulgent 105-minute anti-aging treatment.
The Surrounds: Though the opulent hotel warrants the prestige of an old-money West London postcode, the Rosewood is squarely situated in the city’s white-collar neighborhood of Holborn. The once-quiet district has tourist thrills like Covent Garden as well as a new tide of exotic restaurants—from Korean to Spanish—thanks to a budding neighborhood renewal. For stylish jaunts around town, the hotel offers a fleet of sparkling Jaguars, perfect for getting you from A to Bond Street.
For those in the know… The hotel boasts three uniquely outfitted bars, but the best place to toss one back is in the privacy of one’s own chambers. Every suite includes a complimentary cut-glass flask of whiskey.
252 High Holborn, London; 44-20/7781-8888; Rosewood London; doubles from US$515