Rosewood London – A Quality Choice

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Overview: A strong, in-city luxury property
Strengths: Staff/service, quality of furnishings, f&b (both quality, and range of venues)
Drawbacks: Application of Virtuoso benefits took some effort on my part, junior suite lacked much natural light
Notable: The hotel has a friendly house dog which is resident in the lobby and motor court

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Having stayed at the Four Seasons Park Lane on my two prior visits to London, based on strong feedback from members of FT’s Luxury Hotel forum, I decided to give the Rosewood London a try for a recent business trip.

Overall, I was very pleased with my stay at the Rosewood.  The hotel offers pretty much everything you would want from an in-city luxury hotel (other than a swimming pool) and is reasonably centrally located in London (convenient to most of the City, but not Canary Wharf).  I wouldn’t call this a “wow” hotel (as I would the Aman Tokyo), but it is a very good property.

I flew over from New York on Virgin Atlantic in business class.  I bought a ticket via Delta (to get the revenue-based earnings) which precluded my access to Virgin’s chauffeur services.  (More on the math of this situation in a subsequent post.)  Instead, my assistant arranged for the  hotel to send a car to pick me up.

Just outside of immigration and customs, the hotel driver was waiting for me.  He was dressed quite stylishly, as were all of the bellmen and front office staff at the hotel.  He escorted me to one of their house cars.  This one was a Jaguar (XJ Autograph) and was nearby in the car park.

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The ride in to the city was very comfortable, and he had juice, water and some small sweets available in the car.  In-car wifi was quite fast, too.

The hotel has an off-street motor court, which I find to be quite a welcome luxury.  I appreciate being able to enter and exit a vehicle in a setting away from an open sidewalk.  A necessity?  Surely not; but definitely a nice touch.  This was similar, though even more private, than the motor court at the woeful Waldorf in Chicago.

Several bellmen greeted us and offered assistance with my luggage.  Notably, despite arriving in a house car, none of the staff greeted me by name.  This compares to the FS Park Lane where the doormen knew the names of the guests arriving in hotel transportation.  Just having small hand luggage, I declined assistance.

Entry corridor
Entry corridor

Similarly, at the front desk, they did not know my name (many hotels pass this info from the driver to the desk), though they greeted me very kindly.  The hotel had a “stay three, pay two” option, which fit great for my two night stay – allowing me to pre-book the room for the night before so as to guarantee its availability when I arrived in the morning.  (My assistant called to make sure they held the room….just in case.)

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The gentleman who checked me in then personally escorted me to my room.  I find this to be a very nice touch.  Many hotels’ front office staff escort you to the lift, but then send you on your way.

I reserved a junior suite and was assigned to a junior suite.  There was no mention of an upgrade, nor was there any mention of any of the Virtuoso benefits during my check in.   On the way to the room, I asked the chap who escorted me to my room about the program.  Upon my prompting, he mentioned a $100 “credit,” but was unsure as to what it applied to.  (Shortly after leaving my room, he called back to explain it was F&B, only.)  He also said I could take breakfast in either of their dining rooms or order through room service.

Had I not asked, I suspect they would not have even mentioned Virtuoso during the check in process.  This should be improved.

Junior Suite

As was described on their website, a “junior suite” is a “larger room.”  My room, 309, was situated in a corner facing the interior motorcourt.  While the room was quite large for a hotel room by London standards, owing to its interior corner location, it only had one window, and that was overlooking just the motorcourt.  Some sunlight came in, but this was a darker room for sure.

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Etchings in the dresser
Etchings in the dresser

There was a delicious welcoming treat in the room.

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The quality of the furnishings in the room were excellent and stylish.  Perhaps the only complaint regarding the room was that the international outlets were located in a corner behind a large round table.  I’m quite tall and it took a reach to get to the outlets.  I suspect many would struggle.

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Other than the limited window situation, I was very pleased with my large room.  “Suite,” even “junior,” is a bit of cheeky designation.  I booked the room category hoping for an upgrade to the next category, but this was never mentioned as an option.

Minibar and coffee station
Minibar and coffee station

The flowers added a nice touch.

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The bathroom was also quite nicely appointed, though perhaps excessively mirrored.  The sink may have even been a silver sink.  Quite handsome, but knowing from a few neighbors who have them, what a pain to look after. One drawback of the sink was the reflection from the overhead lighting was almost blinding.

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The shower was strong and hot.

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Lift Lobby

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Spa

My first afternoon, I had a bit of free time and registered for a massage at the spa.  Located in the basement, the spa was nicely sized and was quite relaxing.

Getting to the spa was a bit confusing.  I knew it was on the lower level (per the signage in the lift), but once I exited the lift, it was unclear where to go.  I found no signage whatsoever and ended up having to ask a staff member in their conference area (near the lifts) where I needed to go.  A sign in the lift lobby showing the way to the spa would be a welcome addition.

The locker room had both a wet and dry sauna, as well as an immersion shower.  There were two regular showers, too.  The saunas were very nice, but the immersion shower (offering a cold shower or a regular temperature shower) wasn’t functioning properly.

The massage itself was fine, but not extraordinary.  I had signed up for a deep tissue massage, but felt like I ended up with a medium pressure Swedish.  I had asked about firm pressure, but moderate might have a been all this masseuse.  Nevertheless, it was quite relaxing and a welcome respite after the short overnight flight in.

I spent some time in the wet sauna (steam room) afterwards, which was a welcome conclusion.

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I did not get to visit the gym during my stay, but I did enjoy a run along the Thames one morning.

Food and Beverage

I ordered a club sandwich as a late dinner one night from room service one night (too many drinks meetings with associates, no dinner tho!), which was quite good and delivered very quickly.

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Each morning, I ate breakfast in the different restaurants.  Both were quite good.

The first morning, I ate at The Mirror Room, which offered a more low key option principally serving from a light buffet.  There was also a menu, which could be used to supplement the buffet.  I did not partake in the add-ons.  Most, if not all of the tables, were lower cocktail or lounge-style tables.  While fine, it wasn’t my favorite set up for eating a meal (leaning over a low table).

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The second morning, I ate at The Holborn Dining Room, which is a larger, all-hours venue.  Holborn is located across the motor court and I had to go outside to get there.  (I suspect there may have been an indoor route, but that would have involved going up and down stairs to get there….only a needed option on cold or wet days).  Here I had the English breakfast, which was very good but more than I could eat.  Most of the patrons at Holborn appeared to be locals and not hotel residents – often a good sign.

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The service at both venues was very good.

One night, a business associate came by for a drink.  We initially met at Scarfes Bar, which I’d consider the main bar.  There was live music (a single player playing one instrument…I forget which!) and it was clearly a venue for dates and lovers.  Lots of guests were in each other’s arms and a fair bit of kissing was going on.  We retreated across the motor court to Holborn and enjoyed a drink (or two) in a less romantic setting.

There was also an outdoor dining option in the motor court.

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I appreciate having a number of dining venues.  Perhaps a high-end option would have been nice, but their offerings were more than fine.

* * * * *

One notable item for dog lovers is that the hotel has an older golden retriever as a house dog.  Pearl has her own bed in the back center of the lobby and in general has free reign of the lobby and motor court. Clearly an older dog which has been well trained, only once did I see her actually walking around.  All other times she was laying in rest.  She gladly accepted some petting from me and other guests.

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Pearl wasn’t visible in the evening, and I suspect they have some space away from the public areas for her to sleep overnight.

Each time I saw her, it put a definite smile on my face.

Departure

My checkout took a bit more effort than I’d like.  While my first breakfast was removed, the second, as well as my room service dinner, hadn’t been.  The gentlemen helping me with the checkout was very nice, but was seemed completely unfamiliar with the Virtuoso program.  He needed to call for help to sort everything out.  Checking out took over ten minutes, though everything did get sorted.  The hotel should strive for better and should train their front desk staff about programs like Virtuoso.

The same driver who retrieved me from the airport was standing by to take me back to Heathrow.  This time, he took me in their house Range Rover.  I hadn’t been in a Rover in a while and found it to be quite a comfortable ride.  Juice and water were available, and wifi was quite fast.  Beyond live TV being available for the rear seats, live TV was also available on the monitor in the center of the dash board.  This seems like it could be a meaningful distraction for the driver (though my driver paid no attention to it).

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I had spoken with the concierge the day prior for them to arrange access to the Virgin Upper Class channel at Heathrow.  (Notably, this check-in is also open to Delta One passengers.  I will give a brief review of the Virgin experience separately.)  Virgin asks for your arriving vehicle’s license plate number, which is a bit of a hassle, as anyone with a hired car and driver nearly surely won’t know the tag number.  The concierge sorted all of this out for me, which I appreciated.

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As I look back, this was a very nice stay and any issues I highlighted were truly minor. I would have no concerns whatsoever to stay here again.  That said, nothing about the stay made it a “wow” stay, either.  For £900+ per night for an “interior courtyard facing large room,” perhaps I’d like something closer to a “wow” experience.

Details
Rosewood London
252 High Holborn, London WC1V 7EN
http://www.rosewoodhotels.com/en/london
+44 20 7781 8888
@rosewoodlondon

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