To celebrate its 50-year anniversary in 2017, the Royal Lancaster London underwent a multimillion-pound refurbishment and emerged – several years later – sporting a head-to-toe makeover, a complete rebrand and a new name. Which is exactly how I plan to spend my next big birthday.
Turn the clock back half a century and the hotel first opened in 1967 as the Royal Lancaster before being renamed the Lancaster London in 2009, then becoming a combination of the two – the Royal Lancaster London – to celebrate the big 5-0. Today, it’s nothing short of spectacular, with an interior that teams classic mid-century design with cutting-edge, contemporary style.
In 2019 terms, the Royal Lancaster London is about as Instagrammable as it gets. I was frantically fishing around for my phone before we’d even stepped foot in the building. The entrance – right by Lancaster Gate Tube – is a grand, glass-panelled crescent with the hotel’s 18-storey tower just behind it. Inside the double-height lobby, twinkling geometric ceiling lights reflect off glossy marble floors. In fact, everything here sparkles – including the staff who greeted us at the desk.
We were shown up to our room on the hotel’s top floor – a studio suite with a window that ran from one end of the space to the other, and a huge mirror that stretched the skyline even more.
Even on a grey day, the wraparound view over Hyde Park and west London was the room’s standout feature. By evening, the sky had dipped to black and the streets beneath us glowed like embers. It seemed a shame to eventually pull the blinds down, but not even an epic view was standing in the way of my child-free lie-in.
That night, we had dinner at the hotel’s main restaurant – Nipa Thai. I had forgotten to book, and this place is popular as a London restaurant in its own right, so we were relieved to find a last-minute table at 9pm. The hotel is Thai-owned, and the restaurant’s authentic credentials include an all-Thai, all-female kitchen, and a traditional interior decked out in ornately carved teak.
I ordered the steamed rice wraps (Kao Krieb Pak Moh, £11) and Sanguan’s Phad Thai (£15). Both were delicious, and I’d be tempted by the set menus with Thai wine pairings (from £64 per person) next time.
As we wandered back to our room, we passed The Park Lounge Bar – a photogenic mix of buttery bronze leather chairs, copper cocktail shakers and gold light fittings just next door to the restaurant. Cocktails here are £15 and you can order light bites from Nipa Thai if you don’t fancy a full-blown dinner.
The hotel’s second bar – Hyde Bar – is a far lighter, brighter space, with delicate patisserie creations served all afternoon alongside Champagne that starts from £75 and goes up to a £350 Krug 1998, which tells you a bit about the clientele.
The next morning, we had a traditional English breakfast (£18) at the Island Grill restaurant and gazed out over The Italian Gardens – a picturesque piece of Kensington Gardens next to Hyde Park.
A waiter apologised for the set-up and explained that breakfast had temporarily moved here while they refurbed the usual place. A huge buffet spread covered every inch of the bar, with a giant slab of golden honeycomb – from the Royal Lancaster’s very own beehives stationed on the roof – glistening at its centre.
In fact, reminders of the resident bees are everywhere in the hotel’s new interior design if you look closely – from the honeycomb-shaped chandeliers and geometric carpets, to the honey-hued colour palette and even the subtle bee-inspired motif on my coffee mug.
Perhaps the hotel’s only downfall is the lack of spa or pool, but it’s easily forgotten once you get here, and you can book in-room spa treatments if you’re desperate. Child-free for once, I settled for an uninterrupted bath, a glass of Champagne and a pre-dinner doze, which beats any treatment I’ve ever seen on a spa menu.
Thanks to the Royal Lancaster London for hosting us in return for this review, which also appears in Ouse Valley Living magazine. The Royal Lancaster London is at Lancaster Terrace, Bayswater, London W2 2TY. Call 020 7551 6000 or visit www.royallancaster.com to book. Rooms start from £199 and Executive rooms from £399, room only.