It’s that time of year again when everyone’s frantically buying Christmas presents and making plans for the festive period. London’s boutique hotels meanwhile are gearing up for December, and will no doubt pull out all the stops to get guests into the festive spirit this Christmas.
November was tainted by the sad news of Ace Hotel founder Alex Calderwood’s passing. The 47 year-old was found dead of unknown causes in a room of the recently opened Ace Hotel London Shoreditch. Calderwood had built a successful hotel chain spanning both sides of the Atlantic since opening the first hotel in Seattle in 1999. Ace Hotels released a statement following his death, saying that, “Alex was our teacher, mentor, guru and most importantly our dear friend. We will miss him.”
London Hotels Insight went behind the scenes at Montagu Place and spoke to Guest Service Assistant Enrico Rosi about life on reception during the nightshift. Rosi explained that the night shift, “is often even more packed with tasks than an afternoon shift,” and a time when much of the cleaning, tidying and preparation for the following day is carried out.
Check rates at the Montague on the Gardens
Montagu Place was also featured in LHI’s ‘Top 5 London Hotels for a Magical Christmas Stay’. As the piece points out, the hotel in Marylebone is well placed for Christmas shopping and pantomimes. The Milestone Hotel also features thanks to its ‘Christmas Extravaganza’ package (15th Nov – 8th Jan), which includes three nights in a suite, a horse and carriage ride, chauffeur driven Christmas shopping and two tickets for a night at the theatre. That is surely the most decadent festive package this year.
Anyone planning to spend Christmas at The Lanesborough will though be disappointed, as the hotel is due to close its doors from 20th December for a major refurbishment. The renovation will be led by the designs of Alberto Pinto, and should see the hotel reopen in late 2014. The old furniture meanwhile is to be auctioned off at the hotel between December 9th and 13th, giving collectors a chance to net a piece of hotel history.
Guests at the Hoxton Hotel were given the chance to get some exclusive tattoos inked on to them for two days in mid-November. The hotel joined forces with Vagabond Tattoo Studio to offer guests a range of uniquely themed body art designs. Pictures from the pop-up shop can be seen over at Vagabond’s Facebook page.
A new boutique hotel opened near Brick Lane on 12th November, in the form of the 171-room Qbic London Hotel. The hotel’s website is particularly enthusiastic about the Shoreditch location – “Literally, you step out of the door and you’ve got creative London at your feet – art galleries, fashion boutiques and Shoreditch’s contagious urban chaos.”
The City of London will also gain another new hotel in the near future, in the form of the old Midland Bank headquarters. The building, which once featured in James Bond film Goldfinger, will be turned into a 255-room boutique hotel by the Soho House group.
As we near the end of the year, many are already looking ahead to 2014. One such person is Piers Brown, Founder of Boutique Hotel News, who has predicted his ‘top ten boutique hotel future trends for 2014’. His predictions include the use of Google Glass technology by front of house staff and the possible elimination of room service.
This time of year is also a big time for awards ceremonies, and London’s boutique hotels have been well represented thus far. At the Independent Hotel Show awards, Sir Terence Conran, Lady Conran and Peter Prescott of Shoreditch’s Boundary Hotel beat the competition to win the Independent Hotelier of the Year Award. Accepting the award, Sir Terence said, “We like to think [this award] recognises the love, attention to detail and individuality of our little hotel in the heart of Shoreditch.”
At the European Hotel Design Awards, London’s Bulgari Hotel & Residences won Architecture of the Year within the ‘Newbuild Hotel’ category, while the Great Northern Hotel’s Plum and Spilt Milk restaurant won an award for Interior Design of the Year.
Check rates at the Bulgari London Hotel
Pioneering boutique hotelier Ian Schrager, whose hotels include the recently opened London Edition, was also honoured with an award for Outstanding Contribution. Schrager is also set to receive the Lifetime Achievement award at the International Hotel Investment Forum on 4th March 2014.
Another boutique icon of the old school, Blakes in South Kensington, received an award at the inaugural Smith awards run by travel website Mr and Mrs Smith. The Anouska Hempel-designed hotel won the Sexiest Bedroom award for its Corfu Suite.
Check rates at the Draycott Hotel
On November 28th, several London hotels were vying for awards at the World Boutique Hotel Awards 2013. The Draycott was a finalist in the Classic Elegance category, while the Eccleston Square Hotel was nominated in the Newcomer award. That completes our round-up. Watch out for more London boutique hotel news next month!
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Photo credits: –Filippo–, Montagu Place, stevecadman, European Hotel Design Awards, The Draycott Hotel.