Hotel Insider: Extensive renovations have given this classic London hotel bigger rooms in which to enjoy its clever blend of British tradition, European joie de vivre and impeccable service.
After a two-year facelift, Four Seasons Park Lane is a worthy luxury
I was still some 20 metres away from the porte-cochère and the hotel's gleaming Rolls-Royce Ghost when a doorman in a greatcoat and faux fur Russian hat walked briskly towards me to welcome me and take my suitcase. The hotel had only opened recently after a major two-year refurbishment but the staff were already impeccable in their approach.
Whether you are in London for shopping, sightseeing or strolling through the "lungs" of the city, the location is ideal. Leave the hotel and walk north and you are on tree-lined Park Lane with its luxury sports car dealerships. Stroll east and you are among the ornate masonry and boutiques of Mayfair, leading to Piccadilly and the Royal Academy of Arts. West and south respectively lie the green expanses of Hyde Park and Green Park.
The hotel was adamant that its interiors should look uniquely London - and uniquely Four Seasons. The first of those two demands is a tough one as London sets trends as well as follows them, and is as diverse as any of the world's great cities. The hotel reflects that diversity with the modernist furniture in the Amaranto Lounge, the comfortably cosy wood-panelled bar and the small Asian-inspired lobby lounge with oriental screens and fireplace.
The hotel's contemporary rooms have nice touches such as rich green curtains with a light check - very "rural England" chic. The hotel also focused on size during its refurbishment by reducing the number of rooms to allow each to be bigger and to accommodate more suites - 45 in all - including the conservatory suites with private terraces, one- or two-bedroom suites with a conservatory and a wide outdoor terrace, and the large garden suite with a 60-sq m landscaped terrace overlooking Hyde Park. My room had a small balcony and French windows, allowing me to have an almost al fresco breakfast looking over the rooftops of Mayfair - a good way to start the day. And there was a pleasant surprise in the bathroom: it's a while since Molton Brown and Bulgari in-room toiletries wowed five-star hotel addicts, so to add a unique element for guests, the hotel commissioned the British parfumier Roja Dove (formerly professeur de parfums at the Parisian perfume house Guerlain) to create a signature scent and collection of amenities for all rooms.
Maintaining a place at the top of the hotel service league (for years the Four Seasons has set the benchmark for service) can be exhausting but this new property has succeeded. Initially I asked to change rooms to one without an adjoining internal door and the move was performed effortlessly and without question. One morning I asked a receptionist if the small Nespresso stand in the lobby is free and for all guests and she not only explained the system (yes, it is free) but walked me through the mechanics. That evening at dinner in the hotel's Amaranto restaurant, I was served with charm, wit and intelligence by a waiter called Piotr who had the balance of formality and friendliness just right.
The hotel's Italian-inspired restaurant Amaranto is not just a restaurant but a single space incorporating a formal restaurant, a bar, lounge areas and a conservatory. The bar serves a good range of alcohol-free cocktails, including the delicious "Ivory" - fresh pear and ginger, pineapple juice, natural yoghurt and handmade vanilla sugar (£9; Dh54). For supper I indulged in a Dover sole with a tartar of anchovies and capers (£29.5; Dh176) and my wife had the lamb loin (£22.5; Dh134), each of which was perfection on a plate. Amaranto also has a line of bespoke tea blends (£5; Dh30), all flavoured with the fragrant herb amaranth, from which the restaurant gets its name. Save some space for sei piccoli peccati (six little sins; £8.75 [Dh52]), a devilishly good dessert involving chocolate fondant, cocoa crumble, chocolate cream, butter cocoa cream, dark, organic bitter chocolate and a chocolate sauce.
The bespoke signature-scent in-room toiletries by Roja Dove and the single-space dining concept, where guests are not restricted to sitting in the restaurant area - you can pick a table in the more casual lounge areas or in the conservatory but still choose from the restaurant menu.
That the fabulous penthouse spa wasn't open for business when I visited. It threw open its doors on March 1 and offers relaxation pods, a wide range of treatments and a spa lounge with healthy meals and 360-degree views over London.
A clever blend of British tradition, European joie de vivre and impeccable service. A luxury, but one worth every penny.
The bottom line
A standard room costs from £495 (Dh3,564) per night, including taxes. Four Seasons London at Park Lane, Hamilton Place, England (www.fourseasons.com; 00 44 207 499 0888).
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