London’s best-known, and most respected, restaurateurs are Chris Corbin and Jeremy King, working as Corbin + King, who have made The Wolseley, on Piccadilly, an institution as integral to London as Buckingham Palace. They now have six restaurants, all in London, but apparently they have always wanted to add a hotel, and led by Jeremy, they opened The Beaumont, between Oxford Street and Grosvenor Square, still home of the US Embassy. Now just over two years old, the 73-room luxury hotel is fresh as a daisy, as up to date as tomorrow – but feels as if it has been there forever. That is one of the many Corbin + King tricks, says the gal, and, similar to The Wolseley, 65% of customers are repeats.
I can see why. The building, owned by Grosvenor Estates, is an adaptation of the 1926 private car-park originally built for Selfridge’s – now, it has, as shown above, an Antony Gormley lego-type man, three floors high, climbing up one exterior corner (inside the sculpture is a real suite, booked the whole time). The ground floor has a bar, leading, beyond, too the Colony Grill Room. In both rooms and in corridors around are stunning portraits of the type you find in real English country homes, plus military portraits, plus, even in elevators, dozens of old photos of the rich and famous, with a Bob Hope here and a Gary Cooper there. This is just the eclectic mish-mash that Jimmy Beaumont would have treasured. Beaumont, who he? Jeremy King has created an alter-story for the building’s history: the myth is that ‘Jimmy Beaumont’ indeed ran a hotel here pre-WWII. It was frequented by the likes of Cecil Beaton, Chips Channon, Carole Lombard and Dorothy Parker. It later it became a dormitory for the embassy, which is considerably more romantic than its actual life as a car-park, later run by Avis.
The myth morphs closer to reality. I was in 505, the Roosevelt Suite – see the video below. From the polished wood, the burning fire, the portraits, Art Deco silver bits that included a tea kettle flanked by caddies, and a big magnifier in a leather box, and a portrait of FDR. I began to think I was part of the Roosevelt family, and even daydreamed which 50 or so friends I would invite to a summer garden party, FDR-themed, on my enormous terrace, facing over to the Baroque-pavilion in Brown Hart Gardens. I knew Jeremy King had personally been collecting antiques, and over 3,000 bits to hang on walls, for years, and he told me himself how he wanted simplicity, and value. Here, light switches are just that, simple switches. And value? Where else is there no charge for room service delivery?
The toiletries are D.R. Harris, as used in Buckingham Palace, and the robes are Robe Works, and down in the soft-turquoise and glass basement spa there is a hammam, and an osteopath, and the adjacent Citterio-designed gym is 24/7. The restaurant concept is stunning-basic, just like The Wolseley: my avo-and-superfood salad was followed by a Dover sole deftly deboned, in a minute flat, by a young lady who came from Four Seasons. My room service breakfast (the basic-continental included in the room rate, here enhanced with eggs) was brought by a young man from a Hungarian village. Coffee, by the way, was in a silver pot with an old-fashioned ebony handle, to prevent finger-burning – but this is that rare kind of luxury hotel that thinks of minutiae, say not only self-seal envelopes but headed notepaper has, one sheet each, continuation paper in the assumption that you are going to write a proper letter. I loved so many things, including a pack of cards in a hotel-embossed leather box, next to a small book, specially written by Victoria Coren Mitchell, showing how to play a variety of card games. Oh Mr King, where will your next hotel be, I cannot wait. NOW TOUR THE ROOSEVELT SUITE, BELOW