London’s Hotel Café Royal has a storied history of politicians, pioneers and princesses, says Lucy White. We raise a toast a toast to its 21st-century incarnation.
Slap, bang in the thick of Regent Street, on the grade II listed Quadrant, Hotel Cafe Royal couldn’t be any more central. And as the Café Royal restaurant, it was once the beating heart of London’s glitterati, welcoming the likes of Virginia Woolf, Winston Churchill, Noel Coward, Liz Taylor, Princess Di and David Bowie through its illustrious doors until closure in 2008. Our very own Oscar Wilde was also a regular, hence the hotel’s bar named in his honour; a glorious, mirrored confection that makes Versailles look austere and where you can sit in Oscar’s favourite seat and feast on jolly-spiffing afternoon tea.
Do not be fooled by its starry history, though, for its guest rooms are distinctly contemporary. My junior suite was ginormous and, despite the enviable aspect on to bustling Regent Street, blessed with superior sound-proofing. While I could’ve done with a higher IQ to conquer the flashy light system and oscillating flatscreen TV, there was much to admire about the room’s smooth, rusticated Portland stone-style walls, its pink and green accents and the panoramically marbled bathroom, including giant bathtub. The swish spa is also an excellent USP, while no query is too much trouble for the dapper concierge.
Hotel Café Royal is also deliciously close to Soho. On my visit I replaced a watchstrap at Nixon on Newburgh Street, bought a bottle of dreamy Santal 33 at Le Labo on Beak Street, worried my credit card at Liberty and had a beautiful dirty martini at Upper James Street’s plush Bob Bob Ricard, where Irish chef Anna Haugh is cooking up a veritable storm. In the words of dearest Oscar: “I can resist everything except temptation.”
(68 Regent Street, +44 20 7406 3333; hotelcaferoyal.com)
This feature appears in the October/November 2017 issue of Cara magazine, the inflight publication of Aer Lingus. aerlingus.com