Songbirds, real songbirds in proper cages, used to greet you by elevators at lobby level at Rosewood London but now, thoughtfully, they have been moved to landings up the six-floor building’s main marble staircase. They get more light, the gal was told, and at night they have bespoke fabric covers put over their cages. They get more sleep, now. This is a luxury hotel that seems to think of everything – walk along the corridors and there are antique tables bearing sculptures, or books, or sweets, and get to your room, and there might be a spot-lit gold cockerel sculpture outside the door, and, within, most certainly an old-fashioned silver salver to hold your (very modern, pressure-pad) key.
This is now your residence, said my super-butler Beau Bailey from Antiqua, trained at that island’s Rosewood Jumby Bay. Even though I am butler-phobic, generally, I must say she was more than first-class, she was faultless. She showed me to my ‘residence’, which is what they call rooms here, and before leaving gve me her business card. Suite 338 showed me straightaway how adaptable designer Tony Chi is. Here, doing ‘English’, he has put in a proper ceiling-high cabinet to hold minibars, with all mixology ingredients (and anything other than alcohol is complimentary). Colouring, including the soft plaid carpeting, is taupe and cream throughout, there are lots of cashmere throws, a really comfy bed, a very-hot electric towel rail, and a mandarin-collared robe that looks stylish rather than something with lapels which should be hospitalized.
The English look extends to the team’s fashions, with lots of tweeds and plus-fours. Arrive in the main lobby, indeed, and you could think you were entering the modern version of an English country house – think Tony Chi buying Windsor Castle and not afraid to get rid of centuries of family portraits and bring it to the 21st century. See the video, below. Leading off the lobby are the all-day Mirror Room, named for its ceiling, and, in the other direction, Scarfe’s bar, called for cartoonist Gerald Scarfe, dozens of whose originals hang on the walls but it is almost impossible to see them as the place is a buzz of Midtown and City success stories networking right until its one a.m. closing. Across the courtyard entrance is the main restaurant, the Holborn Dining Room, where I immediately fell in love with the servers’ unisex trews.
But then I quickly fell, too, for Martin Brudnizki’s brilliant tavern-like, brass-and-lights and sit- up or sit-down seating ambience, and the noise and the activity, and the teatowel-like linen napkins simply folded on plain wood tables, and the menu. This is the place to come for the world’s best-ever truffle fries (they come automatically, in a paper-lined silver mug, with the Holborn Luxe burger). Drink the house red, from Languedoc by glass, carafe or bottle, or go for Castiglion del Bosco Rossi di Montalcino 2014, from Rosewood’s hotel in Tuscany. Sadly, I was not able to return, for breakfast, as I had an outstanding on-the-minute room service pre-dawn meal, but as I left for my next flight I looked through the window of Holborn Dining Room, now peaceful and quiet but already getting ready for the pre-office CEOs and their breakfast meetings. I will definitely be back to this characterful luxury hotel.