BACKGROUND The Four Seasons Park Lane closed in 2008 and reopened in January, following a £125 million refurbishment. The 11-storey building looks the same from the outside (the top floor has been added but is not visible from the street) but, unlike the previous incarnation, now has interiors to match the excellent service.
WHAT’S IT LIKE? Pierre-Yves Rochon – designer of Four Seasons hotels in Paris, Florence and Washington DC, as well as the newly renovated Savoy in London (see businesstraveller.com/tried-and-tested for a review) – has created a “classical contemporary” ambience, balancing “eclectic British sophistication and sleek modern style”.
Stepping inside, there’s an immediate feeling of luxury but nothing overstated. The lobby isn’t large, but is well designed – it’s quite refreshing these days in a five-star hotel to have a reception desk where you’d expect to find it, in front of you – with the concierge to your right. There’s also a fridge there with water and cold towels, good for when you arrive or after a run in Hyde Park opposite. There is a small seating area, screened off, and further sections leading past the lifts and into the bar and restaurant, all with an eclectic mix of antique and modern paintings. You don’t need a key card to access the room floors.
WHERE IS IT? Just off Park Lane, behind the Intercontinental hotel. If you use the Underground to get to and from Heathrow, it’s perfect, being next to Hyde Park Corner on the Piccadilly line. You can walk into the West End in 15 minutes, and the hedge funds of Mayfair are only ten minutes away.
ROOM FACILITIES The renovation has meant a reduction in the number of rooms from 219 to 192, including 45 one-, two- and three-bedroom suites, some with fireplaces and private terraces. All are modern with marble and brushed steel bathrooms featuring TVs built into the mirrors, and traditional-style walnut veneer or sycamore panelling in the bedrooms.
Technology is good, with 42-inch LCD televisions, Blu-ray/DVD/CD players, iPod docks, and wired and wireless internet access (free in the suites, £15 per 24 hours otherwise). However, I found the lighting system difficult to operate – some wall switches simply turned on and off, while others, which looked exactly the same, operated a dimmer system.
Generally, the higher the floor, the better the view. Rooms are on the third to ninth floors – the entry-level Standard room (there are 42 of these) are 25 sqm with city vistas. Next up are the 11 Superior rooms, which are the same size but look towards Westminster or the park, then the 68 Deluxe rooms, which are 35 sqm and have city views, and 20 Premier rooms, which measure 35 sqm and face Westminster or the park. There are 45 suites in many different configurations and sizes. My room was comfortable, although I could not seem to run a hot bath (there wasn’t the normal safety feature on the tap with a button to allow really hot water) but the shower was fine. It’s a Four Seasons feature to want to serve everything to you, but I would also have liked tea and coffee in the room.
RESTAURANTS AND BARS Amaranto is a fine-dining Italian restaurant that has been broken into a number of separate spaces, including a bar with a wine wall, a clubby lounge area, the dining space and an outdoor terrace. It has a separate entrance on Hamilton Place, as well as direct lobby access, and is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Breakfast is excellent for business meetings, though note, as with most Four Seasons properties, there is no buffet so you order à la carte from the menu.
BUSINESS AND MEETING FACILITIES These are all one floor up from the lobby and range from the 370-seat ballroom, with natural light overlooking the front of the hotel, to the 36-capacity Pine room, with wood panelling and a marble fireplace recovered from the 18th-century London townhouse that originally occupied this site. Most impressive is the 50-seat Hamilton room, with floor-to-ceiling windows looking on to Hamilton Place and the park.
LEISURE FACILITIES On the tenth floor is a modern gym with views over to Westminster, and a new spa with floor-to-ceiling windows and nine treatment rooms. Men’s and women’s changing rooms each have a sky-lit vitality pool, steam room and sauna.
VERDICT Four Seasons has returned to the market at a very competitive time with new luxury hotels opening in the run-up to London’s 2012 Olympic Games. The service at the Park Lane property is hard to beat, as is the location. Highly recommended.
HOW MANY ROOMS? There are 147 bedrooms (Standard and Superior types at 25 sqm, and Deluxe and Premier at 35 sqm) plus 45 suites across a dozen categories including Executive, Garden and Ambassador.
ROOM HIGHLIGHTS The TV screen embedded in the bathroom mirror and the iPod dock.
PRICE Internet rates for a midweek stay in June started from £594 for a Standard room.
CONTACT Four Seasons Hotel London at Park Lane, Hamilton Place, Park Lane; tel +44 (0)20 7499 0888; fourseasons.com