When it comes to the capital’s most iconic hotels, The Royal Horseguards in Whitehall is at the top of the list. Sitting on the banks of the River Thames at the Embankment, it’s an impressive building steeped in rich history, just a stone’s throw from Trafalgar Square and the Houses of Parliament, and offers a quintessentially British experience to affluent guests visiting the capital.
One of the Guoman Hotels group’s proudest establishments, this luxurious hideaway is a sanctuary away from the throng of the city, and the perfect place to relax and unwind whilst being treated like royalty whilst enjoying spectacular views down over the river. I was recently invited to come and stay, and the experience was truly second to none. An opulent five-star establishment that makes for the perfect base from which to explore the city, here’s all you need to know if you’re considering making a booking – and if you’re not, you soon will be.
Spread across two beautiful and iconic buildings, the hotel is comprised of the National Liberal Club, which has played host to historical icons including Churchill, Gladstone and Lloyd-George over the years since it was built, and the club’s magnificent apartments, which were once the home of the first chief of Britain’s Secret Intelligence Service.
This breath-taking Grade I listed building, built in 1844 to emulate an exquisite French chateau, remains one of the finest examples of architecture in the English capital, with a fascinating history behind it as the former home and office of the first MI6 chief, Sir Mansfield Cumming.
Inside, Victorian grandeur meets elegant, first-class contemporary comfort, with splendour and opulence evident everywhere you look. Think traditional style, rich, dark woods and red upholstery, with an equine theme alluded to through show-stopping bronze ornaments and pieces of art. Lavish furnishings fill the foyer and communal areas, with plush sofas and sumptuous armchairs in decadent and tactile ruby red velvet and a glittering chandelier making for an impressive centrepiece in the reception area.
Rooms and suites
The Royal Horseguards is home to 282 rooms and five opulent suites, three of which enjoy spectacular views down over the Embankment, the Thames and the London Eye. The Tower Suite is the star of the show, split over two floors and located in its own private turret at the very top of the hotel. Promising a real-life fairy-tale experience for guests who chose to stay in it, its panoramic vistas over the twinkling lights of the city are second to none – and on New Year’s Eve, when the light display begins, you’ll have the very best seat in the house in the sprawling second-floor living room, with huge windows taking in 270 degree panoramas.
Accessed via a private entrance hall, it offers the utmost in exclusivity and seclusion for those looking for a quiet and discreet place to stay, and features a spacious bedroom area with a sumptuous king-sized bed and opulent marble en suite bathroom on the first floor.
Many of the standard rooms also look down over the river or the hotel’s gardens – my King Room River View being one of the former. Here, walls are neutral toned, making an understated backdrop for the elegant wooden furnishings, with luxurious touches including crisp Egyptian cotton bed linen, easy-to-operate individual climate control and a 49-inch Smart TV. Free Wi-Fi is available in all rooms, and elsewhere throughout the hotel, so whether you’re travelling for business or pleasure, you’ll have no trouble staying connected.
For added comfort, king rooms also feature universal voltage sockets and a personal safe. The en suite bathroom makes for the ideal haven in which to relax and unwind after a busy day out navigating the hustle and bustle of the capital, with heated flooring and towel rails, a monsoon shower and complimentary Elemis beauty products on hand to up-level the experience. There are also some beautifully soft bathrobes and slippers on hand to wrap yourself up in once you’ve finished and settle in for a peaceful evening of in-room entertainment, or before heading out to get some dinner.
Food and drink
The name of the hotel’s main restaurant, One Twenty One Two, inspired by the building’s former neighbour, Scotland Yard and is derived from the world-famous phone number: Whitehall 1212. Here, you can find a mouth-watering menu inspired by the seasons, with only the finest fresh, artisanal ingredients used to bring each of its creative and beautifully presented dishes to life.
Highlights from the starter selection include the smoked salmon and citrus cream roulade, which comes with a creamy avocado mousse, a zingy tomato salsa and a sprinkling of basil cress; and the melt-in-your-mouth scallop tempura, which is lent a subtle kick with the accompanying lentil dahl and curry oil yet cooled off sufficiently with a welcome dollop of yoghurt.
Onto the main course, and you can expect to be spoilt for choice, with a host of modern takes on some traditional dishes we know and love. There’s the double-cooked free-range chicken supreme with hispi cabbage and bacon, creamed mash and sherry and mushroom sauce, which is perfect if you’re looking for comfort food. Or, for something lighter, choose the tender pan-fried halibut with king prawns in a Thai red curry sauce, served with sweet and crunchy mange tout and aromatic basmati rice.
Carnivores will no doubt love the chargrilled 10 ounce rib-eye steak with chimichurri and triple cooked chips, but there’s plenty to satisfy vegetarians and vegans, too – from the gratinated cauliflower steak with vegan hard Italian cheese with chilli, garlic and shallots, to the nutrient-packed superfood salad.
There are plenty of decadent desserts to satisfy a sweet tooth on offer, too. For something truly gluttonous, the warm chocolate brownie or the hot chocolate fondant with salted caramel ice cream are both musts, while if you’re feeling a little full from all the delicious food you’ve eaten thus far, Kentish strawberries with chantilly cream should do the trick.
Once you’ve finished with dinner, step through to the Equus bar, which with its chic and sophisticated ambience, is the perfect place for a nightcap, as well as to start a night out on the town. Exuding warmth and charm, blended with a distinctly modern flair, it also offers a tempting cocktail list featuring signature drinks designed to evoke the rich and diverse story of the hotel.
The Terrace, located at the back of the hotel is a must visit this summer, and is currently offering the ultimate Secret Garden inspired experience in a secluded haven of tranquillity away from the hustle and bustle of the city. A hidden gem where you’ll find an impressive list of cocktails and spritzes to choose from and enjoy al fresco as you watch the sun dip beyond the horizon, the hotel’s famous views down over the Thames and the London Eye are at their finest here.
And of course, in keeping with its quintessentially British feel, it’s only fitting that the hotel serves up one of the best afternoon teas in the capital, with a decadent menu bursting with bespoke house loose leaf teas, elegant sandwiches, delicious handmade cakes and pastries, and strawberries and cream. Highlights include the freshly baked fruit and plain scones with homemade preserve and clotted cream, the lemon and honey macaroon and the gooseberry inside out Victoria – but these are just examples to whet your appetite.
The experience starts from just £39 per person, and can be enjoyed in the hotel’s opulent yet traditional surroundings for a truly authentic experience. There’s also a private dining room for parties of 10 or more if you’re celebrating something special – and you can add a glass of Moet each for an extra £10 to wash it all down with.
The hotel boasts a large array of wedding, conference and event space under the One Whitehall Place building, including the Gladstone Library and Reading and Writing Room – so if you’re considering booking a stay for either work or celebratory purposes, then this is the perfect place.
The hotel’s privileged Embankment location means it’s in easy reach of some of the city’s most iconic sights, including Big Ben, the Houses of Parliament and the London Eye, so there is plenty to see and do in the immediate vicinity if you’re visiting the capital for touristic purposes.
And, with Trafalgar Square, Covent Garden and Oxford Street all easily accessible via the city’s tube network – the nearest station being Charing Cross – then London’s endless array of shops, restaurants, bars and theatres are only ever a stop or two away.
Article Source; Luxury Lifestyle Magazine