What It’s Like To Stay In The Peninsula LondonThe most eagerly awaited recent hotel opening in the British capital is everything we hoped for – and more.


Welcome to ‘Checking In’—in which our editors and contributors rate the best new (and revamped) luxury hotels based on a rigorous (and occasionally tongue-in-cheek) 10-point system. Each question answered “yes” gets one point. Will room service bring you caviar? Does your suite have its own butler? What USPs are in the mix? Find out below.

Describe the hotel in three words:

Citation Longitude
Citation Longitude

Weapons-grade indulgence.

What’s the deal? In short it’s the most hotly anticipated, and stratospherically upmarket, addition to London’s hotel scene in years.


The Peninsula London’s story begins three decades ago, when Hongkong & Shanghai Hotels began scouring the city’s more salubrious neighbourhoods for an ideal spot to open the 12th property added to its portfolio (and its sixth in a Western metropolis, following outposts in New York, Chicago, Beverly Hills, Paris and Istanbul) since the group’s flagship property opened in Kowloon, Hong Kong in 1928.


Eventually, the tireless location scouts settled on a spot occupied by a 1960s office blocks on the edge of Belgravia, overlooking Hyde Park, Wellington Arch and a throughfare along which the Household Cavalry carries out its daily parades on route to Buckingham Palace.

Six years, a widely applauded demolition job and one £1 billion development (by Hopkins Architects) later, in September 2023, the red blindfolds were finally removed from the two marble Chinese lions outside an imposing, eight-storey glass-and-steel new-build, and the first paying guest strolled through a lobby area which would, hours later, be packed with patrons sipping high tea surrounded by de Gournay murals and glittering chandeliers, to a soundtrack of live jazz music.


Mystic types may have sensed another type of energy in the air that day: Lui Chun – a seventh-generation Feng Shui practitioner, whose relatives have been advising China’s rulers since the 13th century – had constant input on how to optimise chi flows throughout the building during construction. Chun even decided the opening date, the precise moment the first room key should be handed over and what should be stored within the time capsules placed withing those aforementioned marble lions for posterity: which ended up including a copy of that day’s Times newspaper.


Moving back to the tangible, wind through the reception bustle, and you’ll reach an off-street courtyard landscaped by Enzo Enea (think climbing jasmine, wisteria vines and 120-year-old Japanese maples). There’s also an automotive fleet (think Rolls-Royce Phantom IIs, hybrid Bentley Bentaygas, a restamod Austin taxi and a restored 1935 Rolls-Royce Phantom Sedanca de Ville), alongside whatever vehicles ultra-high-profile guests have been discreetly transported here in.

So, what can such illustrious clientele expect within?


The best room

The Peninsula Suite can be connected with six other rooms to create a 16,000 sq ft apartment (although take any of the hotel’s 190 keys, and you’ll find yourself with at least 50 light-bathed square metres at your disposal). Interiors buffs may immediately spot the aesthetic touch of Peter Marino, designer of boutiques for the likes of Louis Vuitton, Armani, Zegna and Calvin Klein, here applying his Midas touch to hospitality for the first time.

Guests can expect mahogany-flanked dressing rooms, bathrooms decked out in gold-hued onyx, lavish textiles (25 of them, according to our guide), original artworks commissioned from The Royal Drawing School artists and extra-mile flourishes such as a Valet Box, portable nail dryer and a Smartphone-size panel on the side of the bath (one setting prompts soothing music, and makes the lights dim and lights up a privacy notice outside the door).

The Rundown

Were you greeted by name at check-in?

Several times, by several staff. The sense of being “attended to” in an efficient and friendly (but not cloying) manner was palpable, and all new arrivals checking in on a busy Friday late afternoon appeared to be enjoying the same experience.

Welcome drink ready and waiting when you arrived? Bonus point if it wasn’t just fruit juice.

Yes. A Brut Reserve NV and a Rosé NV by masters of the English chalk terroir Coates & Seely have been selected as the default tipple here.


Is there a standout perk?

A lengthy list of them. There’s the St George Ballroom, which can accommodate up to 450 banquet guests (and has two lifts which can accommodate cars, for launch events). There’s the spa, with its seven treatment rooms, four thermal suites, 24-hour fitness studio and a 25m indoor swimming pool which, despite being subterranean, feels like it’s bathed in natural light thanks to clever ceiling panelling. There’s a cigar room and a sumptuous cinema that seats 15 guests.

Then there are all the finer details, many an expression of British artisanal values: the specially commissioned porcelain dishware, embellished with an exclusive “concertina” pattern, by Richard Brendon, for example and an elegant east-meets-west staff wardrobe by Jenny Packham (whose gowns have been worn by the Princess of Wales).

Two bonus points. And that might be a tad stingy.

Does the resort offer a standout activity?

It’s not on the official list of guest offerings, but we’re reliably informed that dinner atop Wellington Arch can be arranged. See below for the rich gastronomic pickings that could be served up there.

Private butler for every room? Come on, this is London. However, PenChat—Peninsula Hotels’ 24-hour digital concierge service—is in full force via phone interfaces including WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, WeChat and LINE.


Is the sheet thread count higher than 300?

Yes – 400 in fact. The sheets have been sourced from Italian bed linen weavers Quagliotti, who specialise in yachts and private jets as well as hotels.

These sit atop mattresses, by Atlanta-based bedding maker Simmons Beautyrest, which required the instalment of Ezi-Maid lifting systems to save the housekeeping team’s back muscles. Partner disturbance (or “Motion isolation” as the pros call it).  

To say Peninsula Hotels takes sleep seriously would be a tepid understatement: in the lead up to the London opening, prototype rooms were created in a hangar near Heathrow airport, in order to test and select black out blinds, kill switches for lights, silent fridges and air conditioning units that waft rather than blast.

Is there a heated floor in the bathroom? What about a bidet?

The former, yes. The latter—so yesteryear. If NASA made toilets, they would be something like the WASHLET RW shower toilets by Japanese bathroom manufacturer TOTO found throughout the Peninsula London.

They include “adjustable cleansing”, ultra hygienic ‘eWater+’  and—another boon for the housekeeping staff—automatic descaling.


Are the toiletries full sized?

Yes. Each Peninsula hotel commissions a fragrance inspired by the destination. In this case, London perfumer Timothy Han has used ingredients including shea butter and sweet almond oil to create unique, non-gendered in-room bath products to interpret London in olfactory form (the packaging is 99.9 percent free of single-use petroleum plastics).

Are the restaurants worth their salt?

Dining here could actually fall under the “standout activity” question.

In Cantonese restaurant Canton Blue, on the ground floor (with its own entrance on Grosvenor Crescent), Hong Kong-based interior designer Henry Leung was inspired by trade ship Keying Junk to create a space that tips its hat to the spice trade between Asia and Britain. Gazing upwards, diners will see backlit celestial navigation maps or ceiling details which call to mind those of The Forbidden City, whilst booths are backdropped by symbolic porcelain displays in gold (representing the power of the Emperor), blue (the power of silence) and red (fortune and happiness).

The fare—by Executive Chef Dicky Ho, formerly of the group’s Paris, Tokyo and Shanghai outposts—is authentic Chinese with British ingredients: stand-out dishes include Ho’s spin on Peking Duck (deep-fried, with barbecue sauce and black sesame) and wok-fried dry-aged ribeye. At the top-floor bar and restaurant, Brooklands by Claude Bosi, the eponymous Michelin-starred chef serves unabashedly British fare (Nottinghamshire stichelton, Devonshire skate, Lake District lamb), whilst the décor—which includes a sculpture of the Concorde on the ceiling and endless automotive paraphernalia—is inspired by British racing sport and flight innovation.


Is there caviar on the room service menu? If so, what kind?

Yes: Oscietra Caviar to be exact, a generous (125g to be exact) helping of which is served on toasted brioche or crumpets with sour cream, chive, shallot, egg mimosa and butter.

Do you want to spend Friday night in the lobby bar?

The lobby has more of a high-tea vibe. But a very happy Friday evening lies in store for those who head up to Brooklands for Director of Mixology Florian Thireau’s ‘Drinks Studio’ (conceptual cocktails, developed on the spot).

Alternatively, head from Canton Blue, down a staircase lined with porcelain vases depicting nautical scenes (check them out via your Smartphone viewfinder tey become a photo-mosaic style dragon), and you’ll find yourself in cocktail bar, Little Blue.

Here, mischievous spins on classic cocktails involve various Eastern spices: think Espresso Martini with paprika, or Negroni with Timor pepper.

Would you buy the hotel if you could?

Like a shot. As it does in the worlds of watches and cars, the phrase “most hotly anticipated” can act as a flypaper for criticism when it comes to hotels – and yet the only slights about this opening we’ve encountered on the grapevine have been from food critics with an innate aversion to hotel restaurants of any kind, or from people who prefer a serene, less bustling lobby atmosphere in urban hospitality spaces. This writer would change nothing.

For now, though, prospective buyers will need to settle for one of the 25 residences available: one-, two-, three- and four-bedroom apartments and a penthouse, ranging in size from about 2,200 square feet to more than 4,000 square feet.


The Verdict

Imagine if some ultra-opulent A-lister magnet of a hotel opened at the top of Dubai’s next shining edifice – with the taste police intervening right the way through all the design planning, and occasionally being persuaded to lighten up a bit.

That’s what you get here: a healthy tinge of whimsy here and there (the lift up to Brooklands has a wicker basket interior and a soundtrack of a hot air balloon burner), as part of what is more broadly a highly sophisticated, sybaritic and epicurean experience.

Well, well worth the lengthy wait!

What Our Score Means:

1-3: Fire your travel agent if they suggest you stay here.
Solid if you’re in a pinch—but only if you’re in a pinch.
Very good to great. We’d stay here again and recommend it without qualms.
Forget booking a week. When can we move in permanently?

from €1,500 per night

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