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LUXURY HOTELS: Rosewood London, High Holborn, UK
Style: Glitz-meets Manor-House
The Scene:The heart of Holborn
Seen in the lobby: Gen-X with money, Gen- Y with style ..and a bulldog
 
HAPPY BIRTHDAY Rosewood London. Rosewood opens its new hotel in London a year ago today (October 15). Bloomsbury hadn't seen so much excitement since Virginia Wolf and The Bloomsbury Group. The century-old  Edwardian Grand Dame of a building was given an impressive new lease of life with a $130 million renovation and the transformation from Edwardian offices of insurance brokers and bankers to luxury hotel (via a stint as a Renaissance Marriott hotel) was nothing short of miraculous.
The Luxury Travel Bible were some of the first people through the door, if only because we simply can't resist a grand entrance. And this hotel has a VERY grand entrance. The original carriageway gates lead on to a grand courtyard. Then once inside, a sweeping grand Pavonazzo marble staircase in neo-renaissance style steals the show. The staircase curls up on either side of the entrance, before ascending seven heady floors in arcades of marble, before ending under a huge glass dome.
As we said, you don't get much grander than that.

 
One of the first sights to great us was an oh, so British bulldog. And, just like that we fell in love.  The realistic statue is just one of many artistic and quirky touches throughout the hotel. We love the elegant rose gold doors and the glamorous Mirror Room ,designed by Tony Chi  - but it is the sense of humour, the touches of whimsy that make this hotel such a favourite with TLTB.  Along with our beloved bulldog there are is also birdsong by the lifts as finches sing in filigree cages and some eclectic art on the walls. Then there is Scarfe's Bar, named named after the illustrator Gerald Scarfe, who did the artwork for Pink Floyd's The Wall album and is better known as political cartoonist for  The Sunday Times and The New Yorker. The bar's walls feature the artist's caricatures of everybody from British PMs to the royals and their corgis, Mick Jagger and David Beckham. The best of British in cartoon form.  The hotel is stylish, elegant with a small smattering of eccentricity; which is why it has such a quintessentially 'English' feel (despite its US parent company) and why it is one of the hotels right at the top of our list for a perfect London stay. 
 
One of the first sights to great us was an oh, so British bulldog.And, just like that, we fell in love.
The interiors in the 262 guest rooms and 44 suites are equally lavish, fitted out with Cuban mahogany and seven types of marble. Our Grand Premier Suite with its separate foyer and living room and leather chairs  spread out across 85 square metres (915 sq. ft.) of living space ,felt lie our own private London residence. More impressive still are the  eight Signature Suites with their Tony Chi manor-house-meets-glitz interior style.  Or if they don't offer quite enough space for you and your entourage you could simply book in to the Grand Manor House Wing with its six bedrooms and 6,295 square feet (587 square metres) of living space. It has a private entrance from High Holborn, a private lift and its own postcode. The wing is designed by Tony Chi who also created the hotel's common areas, including the glamorous Mirror Room. 

Managing Director Matthias Roeke comes with a suitable pedigree of past luxury hotels under his 20-year belt, so the service is as elegant as the interiors.  The hotel is filled with advertising types in sharp suites and women with endless legs and designer handbags having power breakfasts.  We predict that afternoon tea (on Limoges china) in the extravagant setting of the Mirror Room  may soon rival tea at The Ritz.  Although the Rosewood clientele is less likely to be seen in a twin set and pearls. Let's face it you have to look cool here to compete with the staff in their Nicholas Oakwell-designed uniforms.
 
Bloomsbury hadn't seen so much excitement since Virginia Wolf and The Bloomsbury Group.
Restaurant designer  Martin Brudnizki (think Scotts and Le Caprice) designed the Holborn Dining Room which has a traditional British menu and an attached deli.  The hotel also features a Sense® spa, Rosewood's signature spa brand, and a fitness suite with the equipment from Technogym® and personal trainers available if you need a little extra motivation after all the steak and kidney pudding.
As for location - Londoners don't need to be told that the hotel is in an historic part of town. The Manor of Holborn was mentioned in 1086 in the Domesday Book and the Inns of Court and the British Museum are both a stroll away, all be it in opposite directions.  Drury Lane and Covent Garden are also close by.

And it is not just Virginia & Co that gave the area its literary leanings.  Former Holborn occupants include John Milton, Samuel Johnson and Charles Dickens. Dickens wrote Pickwick Papers while living here, and set scenes from many of his works in the area, including Pip and Herbert Pocket's home in Great Expectations.  At the end of the 19th century the pre-raphaelites and Dante Gabriel Rossetti and William Morris ate at the Holborn Restaurant, which the 1890 Baedeker's guide to London called "one of the best-known restaurants in the city'.
 
We predict that afternoon tea in this extravagant setting may soon rival tea at The Ritz.
The Grade II listed building at 252 High Holborn was designed by H. Percy Monckton in a florid and flamboyant style and began construction in 1912. The first part was completed in 1914, and it was expanded over nearly 50 years, during which time it was the headquarters for the Pearl Assurance Company (in a nod to the hotel's past three heritage boardrooms, with original wood paneled fireplaces, are named in honour of Chairmen of Pearl Assurance Company) . It was a lengthy and loving restoration project, following the original designs wherever possible and missing details were carefully replicated and replaced.
Rosewood does this kind of classic luxury wel,l just look at The Carlyle in New York and Rosewood Mansion on Turtle Creek in Dallas, Texas. When it first opened Rosewood London in a major European capital the hotel was l was a milestone addition to Roseswood's portfolio. "The legacy of the historic building itself is a true representation of our A Sense of Place philosophy," said Radha Arora, president of Rosewood Hotels & Resorts at the time. He was right. Following in the tradition of other hotels that have gone beyond the promo video,  Rosewood recently released a film that celebrated this spirit of place.  The elegant film cements Rosewood London's place as one of the capital's best up there alongside the legendary classic hotels of London. No mean feat in just one year.
 
Luxury Hotels Link: www.rosewoodhotels.com
Hilary Doling 15/10/13 Update 15/10/14
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