The Royal Lancaster’s transformation is one of the most talked-about in London. The hotel went from being a frumpy four-star with dark, pokey rooms to West London’s most Instagrammable property with unparalleled views over Hyde Park.
The location is ridiculously convenient: across the road from the park, right behind Lancaster Gate tube station and an easy 15-minute stroll from Oxford Street. From the outside, the 50-year-old 18-storey tower is still not much to look at but Studio proofs revamp of the interiors is staggering. The look is slick retro with lots of gleaming marble, glass, bronze and velvet furnishings.
The lobby area feels a little like walking into a private members club with almost every surface shining to the point of near transparency but the soothing colour palette of sage green and caramels is a nice counterbalance and adds some warmth.
The number of rooms has been quite dramatically reduced from the original total and walls have been knocked through to provide more floor space. We’re in a large Executive Double which features huge windows overlooking the iconic city skyline (stretching from Wembley Stadium to the Shard) and the edge of Hyde Park. At night, it’s particularly impressive when the lights are twinkling against an inky sky. The room itself is a deeply calming space, with simple, stylish touches such as a velvet sofa at the end of the bed and a desk positioned underneath the window, whilst the bathroom is a white marble with a bath and shower, and generous amounts of White Company products. All of the hotel’s rooms feature some kind of view with a slightly different feel and colour scheme, but the best are those on the higher floors, in particular, the lavish Park Suite with a separate living area and stunning views from whichever way you look.
The service is prompt and efficient, and there are some fun tech features such as smart TVs and guest mobiles with 4G and free calls which you can take with you if you go for a wander. There’s no spa but in-room treatments can be arranged, and there’s a small, well-equipped 24-hour gym on the basement floor.
Breakfast — served in the Island Grill restaurant or in-room — is impressive with an excellent buffet selection including honey from the hotel’s rooftop bee farm, and a menu of all the usual favourites (the smashed avocado with poached eggs is the stand-out choice). However, the Island Grill lacks sparkle mainly because everywhere else you’re so spoilt for views and here you’re looking out onto a rather busy road. The daytime menu is a mix of seasonal British dishes (the grilled catch of the day comes highly recommended), but if you’re looking for something more special, Nipa Thai — with an all-female kitchen — is an atmospheric space serving high quality, authentic Thai food. In the lobby area, you can also currently enjoy a spectacular looking flower-themed high tea, in celebration of the Chelsea flower show and the parks summer’s blooms.
The Royal Lancaster is an exemplar of everything a smart, city hotel should be: convenient, efficient and calming. Even if you’re not a high powered professional, when you stay here, you feel like one.