The Wellesley: Exceeding experience

2013-06-03 07:41

Expect a warm welcome upon arrival from the doorman of the Wellesley Boutique Hotel, kitted out in his authentic English dress - but do remember to pick your jaw up off the floor as you enter.

Being just over five-months old though, even drivers of London’s iconic cabs weren’t entirely sure about its location in the upmarket district of Knightsbridge.

We stepped out of our black taxi to a moment of faux fame as passers-by stopped to snap away. At the bevy of luxury cars, parked in front of the hotel that is.

You see, it is quite hard to miss the entrance of the Wellesley. Included in the line-up is a 2012 Rolls Royce; available as a courtesy drop-off service to guests of the hotel.

So in we sashayed (this hotel will do that to you) and the jaw-dropping continued.

If you are a lover of art deco glamour, the Fox Linton restoration of this former 1920s townhouse leaves you slightly breathless. London on good day can be quite grey but like the appearance of the sun however brief, stepping into the foyer instantly lifts your spirits as everything glows and shimmers in an exquisite and tasteful way.

The Wellesley staff adds a dollop of pleasantness to the checking in process. While the efficiency of your 24-hr butler, as he shimmies through the amenities of the suit, leaves you feeling like you’ve just been totally KO-ed.

These include an eye-stabbingly, picturesque view of Hyde Park, replete with remote-control drapes all neatly operated from your bedside pedestal. After our butler left we couldn’t help playing a game of peek-a-boo with the folks snapping away at the sports cars down on the ground floor. But it’s always a case of ‘Now you don’t see us’ from the suite windows. There are 36 suites in total, with the signature Wellesley Penthouse occupying the entire sixth and seventh floors.

Not forgetting to mention the mood-enhancer buttons. Pre-dinner is definitely Mood 1; After Dinner is Mood 2 without a doubt. There is also a handy tablet setup with direct requests to the concierge on duty.

I can’t go on and on about the lovely little techno-luxuries and buttons that beg to be fiddled with, without mentioning the charming printed message I received on the hotel’s signature embossed stationary informing me that my uncle had called. Modern convenience and old-world charm, somebody is really thinking things through over at the Wellesley.

Having stayed in some spectacular hotels, attention to detail has become an expected standard. I can safely say that the benchmark was raised considerably after my stay here.

We’ve already mentioned the Rolls Royce and modern luxuries. But nothing stamps a measure of class on something quite like the exclusive. Which brings us to the boutique hotel’s dining areas and social spaces.

The Oval restaurant

We had dinner at the in-house Italian restaurant, which is quite small and intimate. By contrast the portions are large and slightly overwhelming. When presented with my salt-encrusted wild sea bass, I gasped at the size of what would have been described as THE catch for any amateur fisherman. Our Sommelier deftly deboned and decrusted the food art, still leaving a considerable portion. My advice would be opt for a single course as the anti-pasti is equally filling.

The food’s flavours and presentation are impeccable. The staff go out of their way to be charming and accommodating, upping the atmosphere factor and overall enjoyment of the evening. With just 28 covers, we highly recommend booking in advance.

The Jazz Room

The Jazz Room pays tribute to jazz legends such as George Melly, Johnny Dankworth and Amy Winehouse. You can expect to snap your fingers and tap your toes to some old soul, blues, swing and jazz traditions. It is slightly bigger than the Oval with seating available for 48. While being short on space makes the idea of a dance floor a sore point, the jazz club offers a classy overflow and change of scenery after dinner. Otherwise, guests may order from the à la carte menu of the Oval Restaurant with orders accepted until 12am.

It is a soulful space that provides the ideal atmosphere to unwind as you enjoy a Cognac, whisky or fine wine. Oh and they make a mean, classic margarita, so be sure to check out the cocktail list too. It also seemed quite the preferred option as a birthday evening as those who were celebrating were serenaded by the lead singer during the course of the evening.

Crystal Bar

The most lavish aspect of the Crystal Bar has to be its showcase wall of the finest whiskies and Cognacs. It takes the idea of vintage spirits beyond comprehension. It goes without saying you can expect to pay handsomely for the rarity of sampling these malts – with a tot of Macallan 50-year-old malt costing 5 000 pounds or about R700 000. *cough*

The Cigar Terrace

The Wellesley tantalises the cigar aficionado with its opulent Cigar Terrace - created for the enjoyment of the finest leaves rolled on the planet and truly a cigar smoker’s haven. Its humidor is filled with the Montecristos, Cohibas and vintage Havana’s all the way to limited edition Behikes, specially made for Cohiba’s 40th anniversary in 2005.  It is an experience to be savoured I’m told.

Prime London location

Location-wise the Wellesley is situated on the edge of Hyde Park – one of Central London’s largest royal parks, famous for its Speakers' Corner.  Simply take a stroll, go horse riding or boating on the large Serpentine Lake. In the summertime it plays host to some must-see music concerts.  Otherwise take advantage of Knightsbridge’s elite shopping options, including Harvey Nics made popular by the late Princess Diana.

It’s also ideally placed for an evening out to the Royal Albert Hall. And if you feel like dining out instead of in during your stay, there are a number of stylish eateries a short Rolls Royce ride away – including Michelin Star Chef Heston Blumenthal’s Mandarin Oriental.

But your choices really are endless when you staying in the heart of one of the World’s greatest cities.

Visit the Wellesley website for the latest rates and package offers

Read more on:    london  |  travel international

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