Rosewood London: A Glimpse of Palace Life
Live Like Royalty at Rosewood London
By Janis Turk
I used to visit London and stand outside at the gates of Buckingham Palace, or tour the public spaces in Kensington Palace, and wonder where, in all those hundreds of rooms, the royals might live and what their posh palace apartments must be like.
What would it feel like to live in a castle with Carrara marble staircases, dark wood paneling, and libraries; grand rooms with walls lined with fine art, and coffee tables laid with silver tea services?
What would it be like to have butlers draw my bath and pour champagne and chamber maids to turn down the bed?
How grand must it be to look out tall floor-to-ceiling windows and gaze at gardens and private courtyards lined in boxwood hedges and topiaries, then close the thick velvet curtains and sleep on a downy cloud-like bed.
"I wonder what the king is doing tonight." I used to think, humming the song from "Camelot."
But I don't wonder anymore.
After spending a weekend in suite at the Rosewood London, I know exactly how it feels to live like royalty.
I arrived in big black London taxi and entered Rosewood London through an archway that opens into a grand Edwardian courtyard surrounded by seven stories of tall windows, their sills lined with hedge-filled flower boxes, and doorways flanked by tall stately topiaries twinkling with white lights.
A private passageway into tranquility, the setting (just steps from Covent Garden) is unique among London luxury hotels, and the building's dental-molding-lined exteriors seem as palatial as any royal residence. I feared the inside would be old fashioned, complete with faded tapestries on the walls and dour portraits of long-dead rulers. So I was pleased to enter and find there is nothing stuffy and moth-ball-ish about it.
A finely-dressed footman held open the door to the lobby and greeted me as I stepped into Rosewood London. There I stood, slack-jawed in awe at the sight of it.
Wow-inspiring black and white bands of Italian marble create striking striped patterns in the floor. An enormous wall-sized silk painting centers the space. Cozy cognac-colored leather chairs studded with nailhead trim and deep-tufted Chesterfield couches upholstered in a cheery mod yellow line the lobby along beside tall velvet banquette seating. Glistening contemporary light fixtures, mirrors and black lacquered tables set with white fresh flower arrangements make the lobby look (as they say in the UK) 'pure dead brilliant.'
Fashioned from the finest materials and curated to the highest standards, Rosewood London's 262 guest rooms and 44 suites are all designed by Tony Chi and Associates – which means, unlike the real royal palaces, there is nothing old fashioned and stiff about this sophisticated hotel. The elegant guest rooms have the air of a stylish modern British palace residence, yet they offer privacy, warmth, quality and nobility.
Although the hotel's decor is stunning and sophisticated, stylish and elegant all at once, it's the good bones of the building that really steal the show. The 1914 Belle …poque building that today houses Rosewood London, was originally designed by H. Percy Monckton and was formerly the headquarters of the Pearl Assurance Company from 1914 to 1989.
The principal facades, as well as the interiors of the former East and West Banking Halls (now Scarfes Bar and Holborn Dining Room respectively), and the hotel's Grand Pavonazzo marble Staircase are all protected with Listed Building status.
I especially adored the marble floors laid out in a black and white Greek Key design in some of the hallways, as well as the dark slate colored walls with wide trip pained in the same color, a style that is wildly popular in U.S. home design these days, but still has long been London classic wall treatment.
A Premier Suite
Rosewood London's eight signature house suites are among the capital city's grandest and most spacious and include the Manor House, the only suite in the world to have its very own post code. It also has its own private entrance on High Holborn, as well as a private elevator. Designed to capture Old World Charm with a modern twist, the nearly 2,000 square foot space is modern, sophisticated, edgy, entertaining and distinguished.
My corner suite wasn't quite that large – but it was close – and much bigger than most London flats, let alone other most other hotel rooms in the city. With a large foyer and a mirror-lined hallway featuring a wall of concealed closets and a spacious guest powder room, my suite opened to a large living room with a dining room table, a tufted velvet sofa, broad coffee table, oversized chairs and an enormous flat screen television.
With the push of a button, drapes opened and closed in all rooms and set mood lighting. A large cabinet in the hall held barware and assorted spirits and snacks, and just beyond that a grand salon with a king-sized bed covered white ironed sheets and a fluffy down duvet awaited me.
Beyond that, a desk and vanity with good lighting led to a large walk-through closet and into a giant bathroom lined in white Italian marble. A butler's entrance into that room allowed staff to quietly enter, unpack my luggage, take my laundry to be washed and pressed, and draw my bath for me or bring champagne – all without being seen.
"This is how the royalty live," I thought to myself, and I felt like a princess, alone in her large palace apartment with servants standing at the ready in their quarters down the hall. I pinched myself to see if I were dreaming before I fell asleep.
The only thing wrong with Rosewood London was that my suite was so nice I never wanted to leave it.
With a Bose Bluetooth system playing my favorite music from my laptop, I could sit and sip tea on my velvet divan, read a book, and never feel the need to explore the city. But I made myself go outside. I love London and was eager to revisit my favorite places.
Rosewood London is situated in one of the capital's most historic thoroughfares, High Holborn, and it's just steps away from the Holborn Underground stop, so it took only moments to take the tube to Piccadilly Circus for sight-seeing, Fortnum and Mason and Harrods for shopping, the West End for theatre, The Ritz or tea, and then St. James Place, where I simply adore the American Bar at The Stafford London hotel.
Since Rosewood London is so close to Covent Garden, I ran over there, too, and on Saturday morning I took the tube to Borough Market, bustling with vendors and overflowing with flowers, cheese carts, and fruit and vegetable stands.
Before checking out of Rosewood London, I treated myself to afternoon tea while a light mist fell on London. Although staying at such a luxe five-star hotel is a big splurge, Rosewood London offers an unforgettable experience. How else could I ever know what it really feels like to live in a palace and be treated like royalty?
I'll never pass a British palace and wonder what it's like inside again.
Now I know what the Queen is doing tonight.
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Janis Turk is a travel writer, photographer, and author who has appeared in travel segments for CNN’s airport network. Her work appears in magazines and newspapers and popular travel websites. Her most recent book Frommer’s TEXAS (2017) is available on Amazon.com and in bookstores everywhere.