With travel planning proving to be more of a chore rather than enjoyment in these post-pandemic times, I’ve decided that it’s best to stay local for the moment. Staycations have certainly hit a high in the past year since restrictions eased, and I was delighted to be invited to experience a night at The Londoner, the world’s first super boutique hotel and one of the most anticipated new openings this year. Located in the iconic Leicester Square, The Londoner is owned and operated by Edwardian Hotels London, and which many have referred to as an ‘iceberg hotel’, consisting of sixteen floors, six of which are underground. Elements of art have been integrated throughout the building, a feat made possible by the dream team of architects Woods Bagot, engineers Arup Associates and artist Ian Monroe; from the impressive facade which consists of 15,000 hand-crafted blue tiles, to the stunning interiors by design agency Yabu Pushelberg, where each space has been curated to reflect life in the West End.
Here’s a snapshot of my whirlwind 24 hour experience.
The Corner Suite
Each door has been embellished with a doorknob made from Italian Murano glass, and upon entering our Corner Suite looked just as sleek as I had envisioned in my mind, featuring a bespoke design by Yabu Pushelberg and floor-to-ceiling windows that looked out into the city, particularly magical during the sunrise and sunset. Above our king-sized bed was an original artwork by Edd Pearman and The Connor Brothers and just by our entrance, a pink chaise longue that I wished I could have taken home with me. Other unique touches included a retro-looking Roberts radio, a handcrafted umbrella with a duck head handle, and a lovely set of binoculars for that theatre feel.
Deep blue tiles line the walls of the bathroom with a Hollywood-style mirror above a spacious vanity, and in one of the cubicles, a much-coveted Japanese Toto washlet with heated seat, jet wand cleanser and sensor-activated lid! The simple pleasures as they say. For the long-haired ladies (and gentlemen) you’ll be pleased to know that they also provide a state of the art Dyson hairdryer. The Corner Suite privileges also included a 24-hour host service for every need – in the haste of packing my larger-than-overnight-luggage, I had somehow forgotten to pack my hairbrush, but thankfully they were able to source a lovely Tangle Teezer for me (in my favourite shade of pink!).
With our check-in finalised at reception, our suite key officially granted us access to three beautifully designed spaces which are exclusive to residents at The Londoner: The Y Bar, The Drawing Room, and The Whisky Room. I was particularly fond of The Drawing Room which felt like sitting in someone’s living room, where you can enjoy complimentary antipasti and drinks whilst lounging on the plush sofas or trying your hand at some boardgames. Contemporary artwork continues to feature in these spaces including a dreamy hand-painted mural by New York-based creative duo, En Viu, which extends from the ceiling down to the retractable blinds, and graffiti-like light artwork projected onto the walls and ceilings of the Y Bar.
Located on one of the six underground levels was The Retreat, an entire floor dedicated to wellness, where we enjoyed a dip in the pool, surrounded by cabanas, a great place to relax and momentarily disconnect from the hustle and bustle above ground. There are also two treatment rooms which offer a range of curated spa treatments in collaboration with a handpicked selection of luxury brands. I was treated to one of the Body Treatments by skincare specialist, ishga, whose award winning products feature pure, hand-harvester Scottish seaweed from the Hebrides.
I opted for the Live Forever which is designed to eliminate toxins, reduce cellulite, boost energy, increase circulation and improve skin tone and texture – all the things that my body needed! The treatment lasted for 60 minutes which included a powerful Hebridean sea salt and oil scrub followed by a detoxifying body wrap. After a nice hot shower and a full body moisturise, I certainly felt refreshed and energized, like a butterfly that had just emerged from its cocoon – my transformation probably less impressive as I was in my ‘cocoon’ for a few minutes rather than a fortnight!
Hotel restaurants used to have a bad reputation of poor service and overpriced mediocre offerings, less so with the new generation of lifestyle hotels, and certainly not at The Londoner. For dinner that evening, we were booked into their signature restaurant, Whitcomb’s, which features contemporary French cooking with influences from surrounding Mediterranean cuisines.
We were attended to by our lovely waiter, Freddie, who recommended that I begin with the Arrivée, a floral blend of Lillet Blanc and Noilly Prat, elderflower and white melon cordial, orange bitters and a prosecco finish. The menu is designed for sharing and so we started with a selection of Petites Assiettes; Calmars frits (fried baby squid), Salade de lentilles et brie (warm lentil salad), and of course the Tartare de thon, a tuna tartare with confit egg yolk and Oscietra caviar that looked pretty as a picture. I was tempted to order the baked escargots but my dining companion was a less adventurous eater! We then ordered a couple of their Plats de Signature; the Filet Mignon with chanterelle and aged Parmesan cheese, and the Lobster Thermidor, decadent grilled lobster with Cognac, Dijon mustard, Gruyere and black truffle, served in a hot skillet. Our only regret was not ordering more bread to soak up the delicious sauce. I also particularly enjoyed our side of Frites, crispy golden layered potato ‘chips’ seasoned with rosemary and sea salt. Finishing on a sweet note, we shared the Mille-feuille with vanilla bean Chantilly, mango, and passionfruit, and the warm beignets served with a trio of dipping sauces – my favourite was the dulce de leche which was deliciously addictive.
Alongside the black and white portraits that line the walls of the restaurant, the ceiling is also adorned with an abstract metal sculpture depicting abstract faces with hats by Shida Salehi, inspired by the old millenaries of London. Linework is also prominently featured throughout the space, from the flooring to the upholstery, bringing an element of Britishness.
8 at The Londoner
We then headed upstairs to 8 at The Londoner for post-dinner drinks, a rooftop izakaya lounge that reimagines the informal and traditional Japanese style of dining and drinking. We sat in the open-aired space surrounded by bamboo with a dramatic open firepit in the centre, decorated in Japanese ropework. It can get quite chilly in the evenings but thankfully warm blankets were provided as we sampled some of their delicious Signature cocktails.
A word of thanks to The Londoner and the wonderful staff who made our stay welcoming and enjoyable.
With plenty more spaces and experiences that I have left to explore (I’ve got my eyes set on the afternoon tea) I’m sure that it shan’t be too long until my next visit.
- My experience at The Londoner was complimentary – views and photos are my own.