This luxurious hotel in Knightsbridge offers sumptuous suites, plus a delectable Champagne afternoon tea.
When it comes to hotels, there is more than one kind of luxury. There is the minimal white kind, where the money is spent on hiding everything except the architect’s crystalline vision, and the Versace sort of luxury where the opulence of the address is gilded onto every lily, and then there is the kind that whispers into the room and removes your tight shoes, relieves you of your heavy bag and guides you into a high-backed marshmallow of a chair.
It is this latter school of luxury that the Jumeirah Carlton Tower does exceedingly well. With hotels located in Dubai, the Maldives and Shanghai, its owners know a little bit about what really constitutes a five-star experience.
Strolling down Sloane Street past Gucci, Pucci and Prada you turn on to the leafy Cadogan Square and find the grand front entrance, on this occasion complete with a red Ferrari casually idling outside the brass revolving doors.
We were greeted with a fragrant hot towel for our hands while we took care of the formalities at reception in the wood-panelled lobby. Afternoon tea at the Chinoiserie was ready when we were and our belongings were taken up to our room while we were seated.
Situated on the ground floor of the hotel just past the lobby, the Chinoiserie is a warm and elegant space with freshly cut flowers and soft harp music with a traditional yet welcoming atmosphere. We watched as family groups, young couples, tired shoppers and friends relaxed on the squashy golden sofas under a saffron ceiling painted with tendrils of green ivy, which matched the fine bone china tableware; every bit as decadent as the name would suggest.
We began our afternoon tea with a glass of chilled Taittinger and some exceptionally good strawberries. The spread was served in three layers on an elegant tiered platter, with wonderfully moist mini venison wellingtons, goats cheese ploughman sandwiches on herby mini rolls, and smoked trout pate on savoury scones, which were just as salty as you’d want with hints of woodsmoke and fresh dill.
In addition, there were three types of patisserie, including a beautiful spicy cheese cake with elaborate dark chocolate shaped into tree branches and two kinds of scones with clotted cream and jam. The tea menu is as extensive as an oligarch’s pre-nup, including fruit teas and coffee, but we went for the classic loose leaf ceylon to cut through the rich food and it proved a perfect match.
The rooms at the Jumeirah Carlton Tower are as comfortable and plush as the lobby suggests: modern furnishing in muted colours, rich fabrics and elegant finishing touches are all designed for comfort and pleasure. The suites come equipped with thick dressing gowns and slippers, huge cloud-like beds with feather bedding and soft cotton sheets.
Likewise the bathroom has everything you might need, including designer beauty products by REN, face cloths, loofers and buffers. A digital radio with ipod dock and a widescreen HDTV, which appeared out of the foot of the bed at the touch of a button, kept us entertained when we grew bored of looking at the twinkling Knightsbridge skyline from the astro-turfed balcony.
In addition, an oasis-like pool is available to hotel guests on the second floor, with tropical plants creating a natural screen around the Jacuzzi, which could easily sit eight people. The eucalyptus-scented steam room and traditional wooden saunas are separated into male and female, and robes, slippers, showers and toiletries are all provided free of charge. For those who indulge, there is also a golf simulator adjoined to the health centre. You can also opt for a number of high-end beauty treatments at the Peak spa, though these should be booked separately and in advance to avoid missing out.
Breakfast and dinner is served in the Mad Men-esque Rib Room. As well as eggs done all the ways on the a la carte menu, the breakfast buffet is as jam-packed with treats and pleasures as you would expect from a hotel at this level: fresh fruit, cold meats and cheeses, pastries, cereals and a mezze option are all available. Like everything at the Jumeriah Carlton Tower, as Mae West would say: “Too much of a good thing can be wonderful”.
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