Overview: An exceptionally strong in-city luxury hotel
Strengths: Quality of rooms, service, location
Drawbacks: No full-size pool
Notable: The complimentary “house cars” are Rolls-Royces
A hybrid business/personal trip to London last year brought me to the Four Seasons London Park Lane for a week-long stay. Though very familiar with the property, this was my first stay of this length. Throughout my stay, every aspect of the stay was at (or above) the standards I’d expect at such a property. The booking was made via a Four Seasons Preferred Partner travel agent.
I’ve long considered this hotel one of the top luxury properties in London. This stay was no exception.
For this trip, I invited my mother to come along. We flew to London from New York on British Airways in First Class. I was able to sleep the entire way, which was almost enough sleep – my mother didn’t sleep much. Whereas I normally take the Heathrow Express, as it was a weekend arrival, I suspected (accurately) that a car would be faster. In her mid-70s, while she is fully mobile and quite active, having my mother tackle the Express with luggage in tow wasn’t the way I wanted her to start her trip, so we arranged for a driver to meet us at Heathrow.
The hotel’s driver was waiting for us just outside of the customs hall and no traffic was faced on journey to the hotel. The driver operated a hybrid S-Class Mercedes.
Often, when using a hotel-arranged car for transit from the airport, the driver will call (or text!) the hotel ten or so minutes before arriving to announce the pending arrival. This time, no call or text was made. Despite that, the manager on duty of the hotel was waiting in the porte-cochère and greeted us by name as he opened the door to the car. The bell staff looked after all of our bags as the manager escorted us to the reception desk. We hadn’t pre-booked rooms from the night before and as the hotel was full, no rooms were immediately available. That said, the manager noted our booking and said he would re-direct housekeeping to our rooms immediately.
We used the opportunity to take a walk in Hyde Park (just across the street from the hotel). It was a splendid springtime Sunday morning, on a bank holiday weekend. Many families were out and about.
Indeed, less than an hour and a half later, the same individual who helped with our arrival called to confirm that our rooms were ready. By the time we arrived back at the hotel, the keys were waiting and our bags had already been delivered to our rooms. I wish every hotel handled early arrivals this well.
We had booked two deluxe rooms and were upgraded to two premier rooms. This is the highest regular room category at the property. While you could not call the rooms large, they were more than amply sized and extraordinarily well appointed.
Entry to the room was through a richly-tiled foyer.
The room was finished with warm combination of lacquered woods and warm, natural-toned paints. The room was silent with no noises from the corridor or the windows (there were double windows) at all.
Although at many Four Seasons you will find sofas in the premier rooms, at this property there is just room for two chairs. While I would have welcomed at least an easy chair, the two upright chairs were more comfortable than they look.
Unfortunately, I had a fair bit of work time on this trip (telephone calls and reviewing documents). The desk area provided ample space to get done what I needed.
A generous fruit plate along with a bottle of water was waiting as a welcome amenity. It also made a very nice subject for some close-up photography. 🙂
The fruit was refreshed regularly, and at one point, an entirely new display was delivered.
A small corridor off of the room’s entry foyer served as a closet area and dressing alcove. This area was also finished with the same materials in the main room. The entry to the bathroom was through this alcove. While perhaps a subtlety, having the dressing area and bathroom slightly segregated from the main bedroom is a very thoughtful design touch.
The bathroom was compact but well designed. There was a separate shower and tub, but only a single vanity. The toilet garnered a small partition, but not its own enclosed area. The water pressure in the shower was excellent, and it had a very fresh smell to it (unlike at the Aria SkySuites).
Food and Beverage
As a FSPP guest, breakfast was included in my room rate and can be enjoyed in-room or in the lobby dining room. Over the course of my stay, I took up both options.
The in-room dining was prompt and the food was of good quality and served remarkably warm. I enjoyed a proper English breakfast one morning and salmon benedict another morning. The pastry baskets were perhaps excessive. (Is this a bad thing?)
Amaranto is the lobby restaurant. We only at here at breakfast time but found the service to be attentive and consistent. The food was of similar quality to in-room dining and was consistently of high quality and was well prepared. I did not take any photos in the restaurant.
Amaranto does offer a pleasant outdoor garden area. Though it was a bit chilly for us, several guests did take advantage of the space. With warmer weather, I imagine the garden fills up.
One evening, I ordered dinner in the room. I had some sort of kebab wrap. It was well prepared.
I met some business colleagues (all of which live in my town in Connecticut) for drinks one night in the lobby bar. We rarely meet in town at home – but somehow if you throw in 3,200 miles of travel and thousands of expenses, we’re all keen to meet. The crowd at the bar, beyond a small group of American financiers, was a mix of apparently wealthy Europeans, Russians and Arabs. No one was unduly boisterous, and it was easy to have a conversation. I prefer this sort of setting compared to noisier hotel bars. Drinks are certainly full priced. Then, of course, you realize the price is in pounds, too!
Gym and Spa
The hotel has a spa and gym on the top floor. I did not get the chance to visit it during this stay. I am booked again at the property for later in 2015 and will make a point to visit both!
One drawback to the property is the lack of a proper swimming pool. There is a whirlpool in the spa. I did not ask if it could be used without a spa service appointment.
Location and Getting Around
The hotel is located on a side street very close to Hyde Park Corner. The location made it easy to walk or jog in Hyde Park. There is a tube station very close and taxis were consistently available at the hotel, even at peak morning and evening hours.
The hotel also offers two “house” cars, both Rolls-Royces, for local drop-offs. When asked, the driver said he could go “a mile or two.” The cars are exclusively on a first-come, first-serve basis, so you cannot fully rely on them. One morning, in fact, I held the door open for a lady who was behind me, letting her go first. She got to the doorman before me and got the last car! I was stuck taking a taxi.
I invited my mother to join for a business dinner with former colleagues over at the Berkeley hotel one evening. We were able to get one of the house cars for the ride over. Of course, our dinner companions (with whom I’m quite friendly) were arriving at the same time and have given me flack for turning up in a Rolls-Royce ever since, particularly when we are negotiating fees!
Without exception, each of the service requests I made during the stay was handled appropriately. From basic items such as pressing and shoe shine, to more complex matters such as an “inside the rocks” tour of Stonehenge, were flawlessly executed. (I will post more on this outing separately.)
Having zero service mishaps on a one-week stay is fairly unusual.
I’ve now stayed at 27 different Four Seasons properties on four continents and can safely state that this is one of the top in-city Four Seasons hotels anywhere in the world. This is a very comfortable hotel with top service in an ideal location. If you had to knock the property, perhaps it isn’t “British” enough – but that would be truly splitting hairs.
While price usually isn’t a meaningful criterion for me in hotel selection, I find the room rates at this hotel to be lower than many of the other nearby luxury hotels. Pricing for suites, on the other hand, seems to be higher here than other nearby properties.
I’m booked to return to this property in 2015 and am looking forward to that stay. I’m debating about splurging on upgrading my room to a suite.
Four Seasons Park Lane (London)
Telephone: +44 20 7499 0888