Suddenly you are one of them again, a normal person. The pampering, the exclusivity, the dinky toiletry sets and discreet service were all for nothing. Once you hit the sidewalk, you’re just another schmuck. It’s all very well having a top-hatted doorman flagging down the cab, but it doesn’t change the grim reality: you have returned to the real world.
Not so at the Four Seasons on Park Lane, which is actually just a bit off Park Lane. Here there are complimentary conveyances for guests seeking to roam within a couple of miles of the West End. If you want to pop to Bond Street and can’t face the trudge, simply hop in one of the hotel’s two Rolls-Royce.
It is the little things, which are actually rather big things, that make the difference. And there are bags of them at the Four Seasons. It is not difficult to see why the hotel group is a default option for wealthy North American visitors, who are tremendously loyal to the brand. There is an informality about the place – the hotel signage in Hamilton Place is almost apologetic and the fresh but low-key foyer sets the relaxed tone. But everything is entirely in the right place.
Last summer, the Four Seasons’ 193 rooms and suites were taken over en masse by the International Olympic Committee for London 2012. It must have been hell for them. The hotel, which has a little sister in Canary Wharf, has bedded in superbly since its £125 million refurbishment, completed in 2011. This was Four Seasons first hotel in Europe when it opened as the Inn on the Park in 1970. As a child, I remember driving by the place but never went in. It was in that part of town where tycoons gambled unfeasibly large wads of cash.
They may still do so at nearby casinos but there is nothing garish about The Four Seasons. Classic English detailing has been combined with bold splashes of rich reds and dark marble. When you pop in one of the lifts, it is like tumbling into a chocolate box.
It’s a very tumble-friendly place. The “flow-through” spaces between the Amaranto restaurant, bar and lounge lend the hotel a relaxed fluidity without detracting from the glamour. The restaurant terrace makes a lovely setting for an al fresco lunch on one of those glorious late spring or summer days in the capital. The hubbub of Park Lane is a few hundred yards away but it feel like a private garden kicking back here.
The modern Italian menu is over-seen by chef Davide Degiovanni. An appointment at Hakkasan beckoned that evening so I had a light lunch of Cornish crab, tagliolini, spring onion and home-smoked ricotta with a couple of flutes of Louis Roederer house Champagne. Bellissimo, me old cock.
In the bar, there is a wall of 250 Italian wines, all of which are available by the glass. If you undertake to order two glasses, the bar staff will open any bottle you like. It is a superb opportunity to try wines you might ordinarily shy away from on cost grounds. The display looks stunning at night, so you will have to pop back for another drink in the evening, just like I did, to get the full impact.
The rooftop spa takes the biscuit from an extremely pleasant tin of biscuits as best spa view in London. The treatment rooms have floor to ceiling pictures windows overlooking Hyde Park. As you drift off into blissful oblivion courtesy of one of the therapists, you experience the illusion of floating off into the sky. The effect is intensified by Louis Roederer.
The spa, which has nine treatment rooms and relaxation pods, was designed by Eric Parry, with whose work I am entirely unfamiliar. But I can tell you this: Mr Parry knows how to pull off chilled-out chic. This spa drips with it.
Before your massage, you may want to take a sauna in one of the his and hers facilities. Again, there are fab views, this time towards Westminster and The Shard. Then de-stress with a splash in the vitality pools.
Should you be able to crawl back to your room, the comfort levels will not disappoint. It is always hard getting the right “feel” for a room – not too girly, not too blokey. The premier room I stayed in bridged the divide – here a bit of walnut veneer, there a bit of marble. The colour scheme, featuring butter-yellow walls, is restful.
And there is a writing desk, which begs the question: do guests ever work in hotels? I pity them if they do. I can’t think of anything worse than having to work while staying at the Four Seasons. Except, of course, hailing a cab. That would be hellish. fortunately, you don’t have to do either.
information, go to www.fourseasons.com/london
*Richard McComb was a guest of Four Seasons.