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January 27, 2024updated Jan 29, 2024

The Peninsula London: Same Same, but Different

London's luxury hotels can often feel very similar, but The Peninsula offers a genuine alternative.

By Alex Martin

Even before The Peninsula arrived in London in 2023, it was already home to several, if not more, of the best hotels in the world. Many have, by and large, perfected the art of five-star hospitality. Everyone has their favorite, but there are few separating factors between them. They all have flawless service, spotless suites and afternoon teas with signature scones. They all have black and white pictures of royalty on the walls, and they can all point to the room where Winston Churchill masterminded some daring plot.

Churchill never made it to The Peninsula, even though he drove past its 1 Grosvenor Place address on his way to Buckingham Palace dozens of times. Built anew overlooking Wellington Arch, The Peninsula London has no local heritage to fall back on. It can’t name its top suites after 1950s A-listers who stayed there. And if that’s what you want, you have plenty of options nearby.

But The Peninsula London isn’t pretending to be part of the city’s fabric. It’s here to offer a genuine alternative to those already embedded in it. Forget the creaky floorboards, the wonky staircases, the storied rooms, and welcome to London’s first hotel built for the digital age. In exchange for heritage, you get high-speed elevators, pre-heated toilet seats and rooms with more touchscreens than an Apple store.

[See also: The 13 Best Restaurants in London]

Stay

Peninsula London premier room
Rooms at The Peninsula London start at a generous 549 sq ft / ©Peninsula Hotels

The Peninsula London raised eyebrows when it opened with starting rates of £1,300 ($1,650) per night. While it may seem steep for an entry-level room, the smallest room at The Peninsula London is 549 sq ft. That would go down as a suite in some of Mayfair’s compact (they call it charming) grande dames and would cost you closer to $2,500. So, if you’re already spending at that level, The Peninsula London represents great value.

Standard rooms offer king beds, living spaces, large bathrooms and dressing rooms. You can choose views of the Peninsula courtyard or Wellington Arch. The latter is more scenic in the day, but you get more noise at night. 

The many tablets control all things electrical, including the toilet. There’s even a smartphone stuck next to the coffee machine, forever condemned to a life of presenting instructions on how to use it. Excesses aside, the tablet system is intuitive and easy to use, which is far from a given. 

[See also: The BoTree: Contemporary Luxury in London’s Heart]

peninsula london suite
The Arch Suite starts at around $25,000 per night / ©Peninsula Hotels

There are 190 rooms in total, including a selection of expansive suites occupying the upper floors of the hotel. Many of these were still a work in progress when I visited in December, but one raring to go was the Arch Suite. 

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At around $25,000 per night, this 2,024-sq-ft suite gives you great arch views in the living room and the privacy of the courtyard in the bedroom. The best of both worlds. The living room is tastefully appointed, with a sitting area and a fireplace. The dressing room is stunning, making this a great choice for anyone intent on a night out.

Outdoor terraces are reserved for the next level up. The Grand Terrace Suite, The Belgravia Suite and The Peninsula Suite, situated on the sixth and seventh floors, all come with private outside space, which will be handy if you’re there for one of London’s five warm days of the year. 

At 5,059 sq ft, the one-bedroom Peninsula Suite is gargantuan and can be connected with seven additional bedrooms up to 14,000 sq ft, making it London’s largest hotel room. Among the impressive list of amenities include a private elevator, a gym and a 13-seat screening room, all within the suite.

Dine

Considering the scale of The Peninsula, it’s surprising to see them opt for just three dining options. Putting the all-day brasserie, The Lobby (which doubles up as… the lobby) aside, The Peninsula has opted for quality over quantity.

On the top floor, with views over Hyde Park, is Brooklands by Claude Bosi. The two-Michelin-starred chef behind Bibendum heads this fine-dining restaurant and offers modern interpretations of British classics. Downstairs, the spine-tinglingly beautiful Canton Blue has fast become one of London’s trendiest hangouts, with month-long waitlists on Friday and Saturday nights.

Brooklands by Claude Bosi

brooklands restaurant
Brooklands by Claude Bosi is a rooftop restaurant with a strong Concorde theme / ©Peninsula Hotels

Brooklands is sure to deliver that all-important Michelin star. Bosi is an established figure in London’s dining industry and has ticked all the boxes here. There are clever nods to British pop cuisine (the coronation chicken, made with liver pate) and relies heavily on the island’s finest produce (monkfish from Devon, lamb from the Lakes). The seven-course menu, at £195 ($250), puts it in the heart of two-star territory.

The restaurant itself is also a sight to behold. On the ceiling, a 48-ft, 2,700-pound replica of Concorde hangs above your head. On the floor, the carpet shows constellations of the night sky on the day Concorde took its final flight.

brooklands bar
Brooklands Bar / ©Peninsula Hotels

Jet streams are projected on the white wall behind, giving a constant feel of motion. This, curiously, has nothing to do with Bosi, and his menu pays no homage to the supersonic theme. The interiors are the work of the Kadoorie family, who own The Peninsula Hotels and have a passion for both motorsport and aviation.

Brooklands Bar, across the way, is similarly impressive in both design and execution, with a stunning bar with a latticed aluminum ceiling that makes you feel like you’re in the middle of a whirring engine. It’s soon to become the only place in London to stock The Macallan’s Red Collection, a flight of which will set you back $32,000.

Canton Blue

canton blue restaurant
Canton Blue offers classic Cantonese dishes including whole Peking duck / ©Peninsula Hotels

This Cantonese restaurant is a pleasant surprise. Everyone expected there to a be big-name chef at The Peninsula. No one expected one of the best Cantonese restaurants in Belgravia to open up alongside it. Canton Blue is beautiful. The walls are draped in porcelain, the ceilings awash with gold leaf and meaningful constellations. The restaurant tries to tie itself to the merging of British and Chinese cultures (don’t mention the opium), and the menu doesn’t attempt to be too Cantonese. 

The whole Peking duck is a popular choice. Presented and carved tableside, it tells the other tables that you mean business. The skin is crispy and the meat is tender. The vegetables for the pancakes arrive in frustratingly small portions. You can have as much as you want, but I feel bad for the waiter making his way back for a fourth plate. For a lighter lunch, the dim sum menu is selective and accomplished. The traditional pork buns are light and delicate.

It’s a greatest hits menu, playing all the big ballads and hitting the right notes while keeping you cocooned in luxurious surroundings.

Relax

peninsula london swimming pool
The 25-meter swimming pool / ©Peninsula Hotels

So far, so impressive. The Peninsula London offers slick service, sumptuous accommodation and delicious, high-end food. And we haven’t even been underground yet. Four levels below sits the joint-biggest hotel swimming pool in London. At 25 meters, it beats the 23 meters on offer at Raffles London at The OWO

So tight is space in London and so expensive is the excavations, that its hotel pools often amount to warm subterranean puddles. Not here, where high ceilings and natural lighting make it feel like a spacious lido. Best of all, it’s empty. The only other person here is a prominent Forbes 400 billionaire, who felt comfortable enough to say hello, before waltzing off to the whirlpool to have a board meeting via his AirPods.

peninsula london gym
The expansive gym full of Technogym equipment / ©Peninsula Hotels

One floor above, a suite of Technogym equipment waits to be utilized. The gym is huge for any city hotel, and especially for one with just 190 keys. While the hotel’s public spaces are positively buzzing from dawn to dusk, down here remains deftly quiet.

There are seven treatment rooms, including one expansive couples room with a hammam. Opt for an array of massage options and facials with either Subtle Energies or Margy products. Celebrity wellness practitioner David Marshall is also on sight as well as lymphatic guru Susan Siklaw. 

1 Grosvenor Place, London SW1X 7HJ

Arch Suite from $25,000 per night. Contact reservationpln@peninsula.com, +44 20 3959 2888, peninsula.com

[See also: How The HVN is Shaking Up London’s Wellness Scene]

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