Where do you start with a hotel like Claridge’s? Well, if you put aside the starry clientele and illustrious history, the thing that sets it apart: its staff. Regular visitors often wax lyrical about the staff being an extended family, and you can see why: a conveyor belt of friendly faces from around the world are on hand throughout your stay to make it the most memorable you’re ever likely to have had in a hotel.
Of course, this sort of cossetted experience comes with a premium price tag: rooms start from several hundred pounds per night and decadent suites are two-to-three times as much. But there are ways to experience it for less - the jaw-dropping art deco Foyer (open from breakfast through afternoon tea to dinner) is one of the grandest rooms in London. Alternatively, you can head for drinks in the old-school glamour of the Fumoir bar, or book a table at chef Simon Rogan’s fine dining outpost, Fera.
Nothing beats being able to go upstairs afterwards, though. And again the hotel does this in style with what’s claimed to be the oldest working lift in London, manned by a dapper-looking liftman, where you can rest your behind on the velvet sofa and imagine you’re in the Grand London Hotel. Which you are, kind of.
As you’d expect rooms are immaculately designed in a sort of luxurious but understated British way. It’s the sort of aesthetic you’d imagine their Anglophile punters lap up. Suites like the Mayfair take things into fantasy-land – a capacious bedroom with one of the Comfiest Beds on Planet Earth is bookended by an actual separate lounge at one end and a marble-tiled bathroom at the other. The bathtub provides a fun talking point – there’s a buzzer system with buttons for privacy, a waiter, a maid or a valet. What happens when you press all four at once while you’re covered in bubbles? That’s something we didn’t find out, tempting as it was.
Back downstairs there’s a sense of theatre that comes with simply hanging out. Oh, there’s Sienna Miller and Ben Affleck having dinner in the corner. No biggie. And that’s exactly why the rich and famous continue to choose this hotel over the many other five-star hotels in town – no-one makes a fuss (even if other punters are secretly checking them out on the sly).
All the while, staff continue to keep Claridge’s ticking over like a metronome. This is a hotel that excels at every turn and deserves every one of its five stars. Seriously, I’d give the staff six if I could.
Time Out tip
Book for breakfast or afternoon tea and ask for a cosy corner in The Foyer. Here, you’ll get to soak up the theatre of Claridge’s in a seat that’s had Hollywood and – chances are - actual royalty sat on it.
VIDEO: Award-winning bar The Dead Rabbit comes to Claridge’s hotel in London.