Steps from Buckingham Palace and within walking distance from many attractions, including Mayfair and Hyde Park, 51 Buckingham Gate is the only suite of India’s Taj Hotels in Europe. Housed within the heritage St James’ Place complex, 51 Buckingham Gate is an all suite hotel (just 80 suites). Despite the lavish size of accommodations, the hotel is very intimate and mostly discreet, an ideal hide-away location for celebrities and personalities from all walks of life seeking privacy.
Service is provided by an amazing team of butlers, some of whome have been with the hotel for more than a decade. Two of those who trulu pampered me during my stay, were Vasi and Iara, always on call and always ready to help. From concierge tips, un-packing, serving breakfast or tea, butlers are trained to strive for perfection. Arriving all soaked from a rainy afternoon of shopping, Iara was kind to provide the ultimate warm-up and energizing relief – a body scrub by Molton Brown (large size amenities throughout all suites), based on peppermint and ginger. I not only avoided a cold but felt so relaxed.
The residential feel is heightened by the furnishings and facilities of all suites – state of the art home cinema TVs and sound systems with a complex remote control panel (probably the most advanced among suites at luxury hotels in London). The hotel provides and extensive DVD menu, complimentary, so one could enjoy his or her favourite movie tucked in a very comfortable Italian couch in the living room. There is a fully equipped modern, open kitcken, in each suite – ideal for families but also for VIPs travelling with their staff.
Breakfast is served in the Library Lounge of the hotel, resembling a living room of a mansion – with a functional fireplace, couches, armchairs and a well maintained wooden floor. Breakfast food is excellent, especially the selection of fresh organic juices and fruits, not to mention the pastries, among the best I have ever had. Butlers remember each detail about your preference, so they welcome you each morning as you were in your own home. The Library Lounge also serves complimentary afternoon drinks, including spirits and cocktails as well as snacks, with a wide range of English teas.
Reception and lobby area are very small, however, I was pleased to learn the hotel as near future plans to expand and double the space, as well as add a new restaurant. The Quilon, the present fine dining restaurant is London’s only Michelin starred restaurant, serving exquisit Indian food from the South East of India. Despite the rather robotic service and the basic decor (which i would suggest refurbishment), Quilon provided for an excellent experience of Indian cuisine, of similar quality to the the finest dining in India.
Having stayed at Taj Hotels before, the 51 Buckingham Gate is certainly different, but with the planned expansion, including a much needed refurbishment of the SPA, it will not only retain its already high rating among London luxury hotels but it will also be comparable to some of Taj’s iconic properties.
During my stay, I also visited the two custom designed suites, which the hotel launched this year – the only ever suite designed by the creative director of a luxury car brand (JAGUAR) and Cinema themed suite, which uniquely blends Hollywood and Bollywood in a very subtle manner. Both suites are huge in size and the details are exceptional - from the leather chairs in the dining room which feel exactly the same as sitting in a Jaguar model, the original Jaguar themed wall paper and cutting edge fireplace resembling the back of a Jaguar car, to a study room inspired by the Godfather movie and a bohemian bedroom made, in classic Parisian style, which makes guests feel like a famous actor or actress staying in a Parisian apartement.
Designed by Indian fashion designer Sabyasachi Mukherjee, known for its couture gowns and A list clients around the world, the Cinema Suite impresses not only with details such as antique books and original art works, which pay tribute to cinema but also with artworks designed by young artists supported by Sabyasachi. His fashion background has also allowed him to capture the glam side of cinema, one of my most favourite pieces being a hand made painting with a ”couture” embroidery frame. Guests of the suite can order such a paiting for a mere 10.000 pounds, an entirely worth lifestyle souvenir.
Oliver Petcu in London