There are many lovely people at THE PENINSULA LONDON – 580 of them, to be precise. The number of hospitality pros includes big-boss Sonja Vodusek, who runs the place, on the right, and Sue Wheatley, who somehow makes sure all the beds in the 190-room hotel are occupied and all the restaurants’ tables are booked, and with high spenders. The Peninsula opened its doors at 8.08 a.m. on 12th September 2023. So what’s actually like?
The Peninsula-green Bentley wooshed through an entry-tunnel, with a glass-walled flower shop to its left, into the turning circle. The stark stoneness of the four walls of the eight-floor building around relieved by a pair of 120-year old Japanese maples, put here by Swiss master-landscaper Enzo Enea and standing confidently as if they have been here for ever. To be honest the building, occupying the west-southwest slot around Hyde Park Corner is so classic it feels as if it has been here for, well, quite a term.
Earlier, the meeting at Waterloo rail terminus had been as smooth as a Berlin Philharmonic symphony. A pillbox-hatted white-suited female page from Port Elizabeth stood out on the platform. The venerable Delhi-born driver, hatless, waited by the Bentley, and just before he purred the engine he offered a glass bottle of water.
For Aussie onsite boss Sonja Vodusek her tenure means she has really settled in. She moved from Tokyo nearly three years ago, to a half-built hotel with no staff. Now she has her team to look after the hotel and 28 highly-desirable owned residences. She has had the best names to work with. Peter Marino’s done the interiors, Jenny Packham’s produced the fashion (no mere ‘uniforms’ here).
Going into the lobby tea lounge, at tea time, was into full house. Late afternoon light flooded in from the east, from the pedestrian entrance. White light made it impossible to identify anyone but every seat appeared to be full. Fleur, a tall Dutch woman in black with cream highlights, was rooming, showing off suite 402, which looks directly down into the greenery of Hyde Park Corner (there’s no green in the room, bar the leaves in a beautiful pompom-bouquet flower arrangement – the sitting room is dull red, taupe and sand but it stands out for its user-friendliness). Books abound, from Lorna Doone to a tome that is in reality the room service menu. A bottle of English rose bubby, Coates & Seely for The Peninsula, soaked in an ice bucket next to irresistible chocolate shapes.
The bedroom is sensational, an enormous white space made sexy by a pale pistachio-icecream headboard. Th e bathroom, which comes with a guest toilet and two full-size walk-in closets, is equally romantic, shades of palest Marilyn, onyx which is so perfectly worked that the patterns wrap around the entire space. The fronts of the two vanity units are gold, the hanging robes’ exteriors are soft gold, their inners softest softest white. The tub gains subdued lighting and soothing music when, having put the eyeglasses on, you push a spa button on a handy tablet. Timothy Han toiletries. Italidea towelling. This could be the world’s most gorgeous city bathroom….
Now for dinner- to be continued.