Rocco Forte Brown's Hotel
In 2003 well known British hotelier, Sir Rocco Forte acquired the famed Brown’s Hotel. This five-story hotel was originally opened by Lord Byron’s valet in 1837. Many of Sir Rocco Forte's hotels frequently top the "Best Of" lists. Located in the smartest part of London between Piccadilly and Berkeley Square, it is surrounded by high-end galleries, cafes, bars and boutiques. Since reopening in December 2005, this hotel has consistently garnered praise from both press and guests for its plush eclectic style, deferential service and delightfully opulent contemporary accommodations.
On rainy days, the hotel fields liveried doormen with umbrellas on the hotel steps and adds three more at the concierge desk immediately inside. There isn't much of a lobby, but guests are escorted to reception (with two more staffers) deeper inside the hotel. Staff efficiency is superb, and guests are clearly a priority.
Brown's has a more limited range of bar and dining options than many large hotels in its league, but what it does offer is superb. The once formal Grill, has recently been replaced with Albemarle, a genteel contemporary salon serving contemporary takes on classic English fare at all meals. The service is just as classic as the menu, and staffers are surprisingly deferential. Dinner features famed Dover sole, while the three-course set lunch is a relative bargain at around US$60. The Donovan Bar is very stylish without entertaining a stuffy club atmosphere. Terrance Donovan's photographs (some are very risque) line the walls. A huge stained-glass window depicting St. George illuminates the leather-clad cocktail bar, and the wine cellar includes vintage champagnes. Live jazz is featured Monday-Saturday after 8 pm, and jazz is the general mood music at other times. The English Tea Room and adjacent library are available for light breakfast and lunch (breakfast is not included in the standard room tariff). At 3 pm, this space is transformed into a classic English tearoom with white tablecloths, silverware and tiered cake stands. A pianist plays 3-7 pm, and reservations are recommended. At around US$60 it is not cheap, but the range and quality of food and beverage are excellent, and guests can stay all afternoon and order everything again at no additional charge.
The guests-only gym has 12 state-of-the-art exercise stations. The self-contained treatment rooms have heated beds and mood lighting. Dr. Seabag beauty treatments include facials, wraps and massage with warm stones. No shops are in the hotel. Instead, there are displays that show Burberry and local jewelers; the concierge can arrange for goods to be brought to the hotel or for a visit to the shop. Car rentals, theater tickets and other services are arranged by the exceptional concierge. Brown's memorabilia and gift items are available from reception.
Brown's has six meeting spaces, which double as private dining rooms. All have natural lighting, and the largest can accommodate 70 people theater-style. Not one of them is bland; all are classic Georgian drawing rooms with marble fireplaces and high ornate ceilings. They can be equipped with the latest high-tech presentation equipment. A small business center provides computer access. Two wood-paneled elevators serve all floors, and Victorian stained-glass windows maintain the traditional style. The most noticeable aspect of the rooms is the lack of uniformity. The rooms were done by Sir Forte's sister Olga Polizzi, and her subtle contemporary hand stops just short of modern. Photographs of Winston Churchill and the Queen are in many rooms, along with more modern Bridget Riley and Terrance Donovan prints.
Furnishings are wool, silk and wood, and antiques add a nice contrast. Rooms are finished to a very high standard with mostly king beds, plasma TVs with movies on demand, desks, voice mail, safes, broadband Internet access (Wi-Fi in public areas for a fee) and walk-in wardrobes in larger rooms. The rooms are air conditioned and the windows triple-glazed. Minibars are present, but teamakers are not. Traditional shoeshine is complimentary, and housekeeping stops by twice a day. State-of-the-art security and CCTV monitoring has been installed in all corridors and public areas and outside. Baths show sparkling marble with designer tiles and artwork, and bidets are provided. Robes and Rocco Forte toiletries are standard. Facilities range from combination tubs with powerful showers in classic rooms to suites with large walk-in showers, heated mirrors and built-in plasma TVs. No floors are higher than the surrounding buildings, so views are of Mayfair street scenes or the quiet inner court. All of the public areas and guest rooms are now smoke-free. Two rooms are wheelchair accessible. The 24-hour room service includes a chef roster, and turndown includes a second appearance by the maid to freshen towels and tidy up. Pets are not permitted.
Brown's offers a great deal of charm with plenty of elegance, character and individuality. This is the place to stay for the feel of old English personal service without any eccentricity or foibles but with every modern convenience.
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