How, as sister hotel to one of the world’s grandest hotels, do you compete with the Dorchester? At flamboyant 45 Park Lane, the attempt begins with an elegant art deco aesthetic that everywhere leans toward the masculine; in place of vast floral arrangements the lobby is filled with contemporary British art, a theme that continues everywhere, from the Damian Hirst work in the restaurant to the art books in the rooms and regular exhibitions at the hotel. And what rooms; my 7th floor studio suite was spacious and manly, with chrome, wood panels and large mirrors creating a distinctly tinseltown, almost noir feel that continued through to a glitzy bathroom with a marble finish, underfloor heating and funky lighting. Tech touches like an iPad controlling multiple lighting scenarios, smooth scrolling electric blinds, a bathroom mirror with mini integrated TV screen (to keep an eye on your investment portfolio, I suppose) and Nespresso machines ramp up the masculine feel, but are sweetly offset by thoughtful personal touches – the option of a personalised candlelit aromatherapy bath experience with herbal tea in that glitzy bathroom, a yoga mat and skipping rope if you want to keep your workout personal, and the moreish complementary luxury nut selection, fruit juices and delicious brownies to go with the nespresso. Plus perhaps best of all, a pint of fresh milk tucked into the fridge, to further improve the coffee/brownie combo.
But for me, 45 Park Lane’s ace up the sleeve lay outside the room, the artwork, the free nibbles and the techtastic touches. It lay in the superb staff. On arriving at reception, staff were efficient and courteous, but as a compatriot checked me in, the ribbing began, and it set the tone for my stay: good manners and sharp wit. From Wolfgang Puck’s opulent and lively Cut restaurant, serving arguably the best steaks in London (including the signature and sublime wagyu steak at £150), to the Bar above it, waiters, bartenders, mixologists and sommeliers offered gentle, friendly guidance on everything – including a 700+ wine list – knowledgeably and enthusiastically, with no hint of overbearing haughtiness, but plenty of personality. What they managed to create was something rare and precious; a memorable evening of entertainment and fun shaped to perfection by the people looking after us – even over at the Dorchester, where, post-cocktail, our effusive mixologist was more than happy to take me in order to introduce me to his equivalent. But that’s another story…
Time Out tip: If the art exhibitions at the hotel inspire you, take in an auction at nearby Phillips, which specialises in 20th century and contemporary art and design auctions and print sales.