What is it? The latest addition to Four Seasons’ European portfolio sits smack opposite the Tower of London in what was formerly the Port of London Authority Headquarters. The building opened in 1922, but by the 1990s it was standing empty. The structure has now been restored, with immaculate attention to detail.
What’s arrival like? Well, you could get there via the London Underground’s District Line, but I doubt you will. Chances are you’ll be weaved by car through the City to be dropped at the foot of elegant steps that lead up to a lovely facade manned by bowler-hatted staff, and London’s tallest doorman will usher you inside.
First impressions? The eyes are drawn immediately to the entrance hall, with its high ceiling, statement art and dramatic lighting. Beyond sits the elegant Rotunda Lounge, but the real show-stopper is the first floor UN Ballroom, named for the first United Nations General Assembly reception, which was held there in 1946. The ballroom is lined with walnut panels and illuminated by its original chandeliers.
And the rooms? Finding your room might not prove easy because the building’s layout is confusing – it takes a while to figure out which way you need to go to get there. The rooms – all invariably lovely – overlook the City or a contemporary inner courtyard, but none have a full Tower of London view due to the building’s design. That’s saved for a slightly hidden mezzanine area.
What about the buffet breakfast? A buffet? This is the Four Seasons; you will be served at your table.
Oops! So what’s on the menu? There are three types of congee in the Chinese breakfast and all the other usual suspects, including the full English are on offer. The fruit salad is surprisingly dull – with no summer fruits, but rather all melon and dragon fruit – for a whopping £16 (HK$170). Also surprisingly, the only newspaper available was The Mail on Sunday, which at least didn’t detain me for long.
#Firstworldproblems. What about for lunch and dinner? Restaurant Mei Ume serves Japanese and Chinese dishes but the hotel’s most sophisticated dining option is probably La Dame de Pic London, the first British venture of French chef Anne-Sophie Pic, owner of the three-Michelin-starred Maison Pic restaurant in southeast France.
Her cuisine is beautifully plated and surprisingly light (not something you’d expect from the land of foie gras and rum baba). Pic’s legendary take on a mille-feuille is a must-order. It may look like an all-white Rubik’s Cube, but inside are outrageously good layers of puff pastry, crème pâtissière and Tahitian vanilla cream.
Blimey, I may need some time in the gym.The facility here is a state-of-the-art Technogym, but it’s hard not to be distracted by the incredibly swish pool, the jacuzzis, the steam rooms and the enormous (18,000 sq ft) spa.
Nightcap, anyone? Meet you in the Rotunda. As its name suggests, the room is round and features sculpted white walls, another ornate ceiling and a black grand piano at its centre, from which classy tunes are played of an evening. Otherwise, expect a backing track from the likes of Vanessa Paradis and Jacqui Dankworth.
What’s the bottom line? Rates begin at £715 (HK$7,500) per night and rise to “To Book this Room Please Call”, for the Presidential Suite.