After all the evitable difficulties and restrictions set upon the hotel industry over the last couple of years at last the taxis are being summoned, the doors opened and the porters and bellboys are back in business. How reassuring to be reacquainted with all these familiar trappings and yet London has moved on and there’s nothing quite like the sensation of staying at a newly-launched hotel. In this 3rd weekly series, Adam Jacot de Boinod experiences the pick of the latest crop.
TREEHOUSE HOTEL LONDON
How many hotels can you name with the reception on the 15th floor? Treehouse is the latest brand from SH Hotels, the group behind 1 Hotel in the US. Indeed the first U.S. Treehouse will open in Brickell, Miami, in 2023 the same year as Treehouse Hotel Manchester. Like 1 Hotel, this brand has an eco message of sustainability with double-filtered water refill stations on every floor and lots of different textural wood finishes, fittings, and fixtures, as well as woodland themes with birds and trees to give it a treehouse feel.
This hotel takes up the top eight floors of a former 1960s office block bang opposite the newly modernized BBC. It’s perfectly located for shopping (with Oxford, Regent, and Bond Streets nearby being the heart of London’s top department stores which include Liberty and Selfridges). For cultured types, there’s art and antiques at The Wallace Collection and piano recitals at The Wigmore Hall.
The 95 rooms across six floors have enormous windows beneath bare concrete plastered ceilings. There are ornaments such as a piggy bank, cuckoo clock, Magic-8 ball, gas lamp, and Paddington Bear. Each bathroom has a walk-in shower and birch trunks running floor-to-ceiling. I recommend south- or east-facing room for the best views of London.
Just opening on the ground floor is the Pizzeria Mozza introduced by Los Angeles chef Nancy Silverton of Netflix Chef’s Table fame while upstairs you’re in for a treat at its Mexican restaurant called Madera, the little sister of Toca Madera in Los Angeles. The menu offers on wooden plates and metal slates a choice of small plates, raw bar, pan Plano, large plates, salads and sides, rocks, and taqueria; rocks being the signature dish served over hot lava stones.
Here the stunning décor allows for golden sunsets and reflecting shadows over the industrial ceilings and wooden bark pillars while foliage drapes down upon, and wicker lanterns illuminate the bar. There is reclaimed wood all over the walls of the restaurant and bar. Flanked by huge windows there are plants, leather chairs, and cement-topped tables. My window seat is indulged with scattered cushions and blankets. The music is cool and ambient. The tone is one of golden and copper autumn leaf colors set against real and luscious foliage full of vitality. The silver birch tree wallpaper is classy and effective on the accent wall.
One floor up on the 16th floor you exit the lift onto a unique and characterful pathway, a forest-like incline, leading you towards the delightful and expansive The Nest a rooftop bar with its stunning panoramic views across the city. It’s uber-cool and funky with outdoors on either side and is deeply atmospheric and perfect for sundowners.
Treehouse is playful and fun with a trendy and youthful vibe. The staff are easy-going and offer a calm, friendly and unobtrusive service. Indeed the founder of the hotel chain sees Treehouse as “a special place that feels more home than a hotel: cozy, welcoming, warm, and somehow familiar, an oasis after a long day that at once refreshes, inspires, and delights”. He is spot on and could have added “playful and funky”.
Representing Pan Pacific’s first hotel in Europe it’s just opened in September 2021. Well-positioned in the heart of London’s Financial District, it’s bang opposite Liverpool Street station and near the trendy neighborhood of Shoreditch and the major tourist attractions of St. Paul’s Cathedral and the Tower of London. Pan Pacific has a very impressive façade with its fifteen floors harboring 237 guest rooms.
The foyer is imposing and stylish with its organic-shaped staircase looping its way up to the restaurant on the second floor. It leads onto the Orchid Lounge which makes great use of its lights offset by banana leaves and the marble top tables and natural stone state-of-the-art fireplace. There’s a good mix of natural and luxury furnishings in rounded and off-rounded shapes. Straightaway in this ambiance I felt away from the hurly-burly of London’s busy business life. The lounge led seamlessly onto the Ginger Lily Bar with its harmonious velvet furnishing, an exclusive nook darkened both in the daytime and at night and offset only by its outdoor terrace.
My room was decked out in beige colors and wooden veneer paneling and equipped with all that’s necessary as well as luxurious calmed by the harmonious and timeless tones of this light, airy spacious room. Everything came, like presents, in smart wooden boxes: silk eye blinds, chocolates and even the TV remote control and the bathroom sported excellent Diptique products. Only small and tasteful oriental art lent bright color to the room. As for my chilled bed, it’s one of the hotel’s many innovations, consisting of a water-based mattress pad with a temperature range from 55-115°F allowing me to sleep even more deeply.
Dining at the Straits Kitchen restaurant is a restful experience. I sat down upon large, cool leather and suede seats in front of neutral, contemporary walls and arches surrounded by fig trees over a decorative flooring that allowed my eye to look upwards to the signature uber-stylish artisan lights. Here I picked from a charming and well-illustrated menu showcasing the melting pot of cuisines represented in multicultural Singapore. I tried the ‘teapot double-boiled soup’ comprising of galangal, red dates, wolfberries, and chicken. While it’s always tempting to have sea bass, steak, or lobster, I chose successfully the Singaporean wok-fried seafood noodles and completed my feast with a kaffir lime pavlova comprising of tropical fruit and Kalamasi sorbet. As for the breakfast I was spoilt for choice from a buffet that rivals the finest of patisseries.
I went for a swim in the wonderful long infinity pool overlooking the stunning Classical façade of the St. Botolph-without-Bishopsgate church. On this 4th floor, devoted entirely to wellness with its treatment rooms and relaxation pods, there’s everything a traveling business person needs to relax. And thanks too must go to the ever-attentive and obliging staff who offer their sincere Singaporean hospitality within this brand-new contemporary London design. | From £325
Here I stood in Leicester Square, the historic heart of London’s theatreland where the top film premières are held. Nonetheless, times were clearly ‘a changing’ as I looked up at The Londoner which, since September 2021, has occupied the square’s southwest corner with its blue-tiled exterior of zinc and glass from which a large Union Jack proudly hangs.
Instantly dubbed the city’s first “iceberg hotel” this much-anticipated first super boutique hotel is on a massive scale with sixteen floors (of which six are underground making it London’s deepest habitable basement).
Inside, the theatricality of this historic location is all thoroughly thought through with gilded staircases and statues that reference the classic setting of the stage and screen. Mammoth orbs depicting both the man in the moon and the sun descend upon the spacious foyer which extends to an elegant grand piano on a dais. From here a crooner softly offers live nocturnal music beneath cascading lighting, beside mirrored surfaces, and before a bronze central staircase. Listeners stretch back in their elegant blush pink armchairs amongst the flickering fire and Assouline volumes that decorate The Stage, the foyer’s own bar.
Upstairs my bedroom, one of the 350 rooms and 35 suites, was impressively condensed with all I needed and given extra character with a Toto heated washlet, a Roberts radio, and an operatic lorgnette.
With six different places at which to eat or drink it’s spoiling for both its business and its leisured clientele. At Whitcomb’s, I savored a French Mediterranean menu from my teal table beside decorative textures, checks, and lines that make it all warm and snug.
At the hotel’s side is Joshua’s Tavern, named after Reynolds the famous portraitist (who lived at number 47 Leicester Square with The National Portrait Gallery being a mere stone’s throw away). It offers fifty regionally sourced gins (Reynolds’s favorite drink) and rumor has it that the pub that stood previously on this ground was Boris Johnson’s favorite: hence the delay in the hotel getting planning permission.
I reached the eighth floor to find 8, an ‘izakaya’, an informal lounge offering Japanese cuisine, aromatically dispensing Diptyque‘s Feu de Bois and opening outside to a rooftop view of the Houses of Parliament, Westminster Abbey, the National Gallery, and Trafalgar Square. Here also is Shima Garden, an outdoor spot with a fire pit and bamboo trees, with sculpture and art involving entwined, weaving ropes.
Then there’s The Residence: three cleverly designed spaces just for guests with The Y Bar up at which to sit and The Drawing Room in which to sit back and behold both the murals that descend at night and the orange patterns that lasers project from within its wooden walls. While to recline fully there’s a secret passage to a snug and compact den namely: the Whisky Room.
At the profundity of the hotel with an entire subterranean floor dedicated to wellness is The Retreat. Complete with a gymnasium and spa, a nail salon, and a barbershop, the stage is set to encompass the large swimming pool cleverly lit to suggest sunlight that defies its depths and is surrounded by the indulgence of pillowed cabana pods and an obliging waiter from Refuel, the superfood café.
With the highlights of the film industry calendar being so parochial it’s no surprise that The Londoner caters so well for after-parties with glitz and glam rooms for hire. A Golden-grilled staircase led me down to The Green Room, with its marble floors, mirrored-ceilings and velvet-clad furnishings, and The Gallery, a foyer with sculptures and works of art from floor to ceiling leading to a pillarless miracle that is the spacious Ballroom that can hold 894 guests and with chain mail curtains that change with the light and reference the theatre.
Everywhere the service is extremely telepathic. At some hotels you’re given directions; here you are led in person as though to collect an award.