Comprised of 350 rooms, 16 floors, 6 restaurants and lots of style, The Londoner opens in Leicester Square
Much like Times Square, London’s Leicester Square is not a place for locals. But tourists, on the other hand, can’t seem to stay away, and now there’s a new place for them to lay down after a big night on the town. Clad in electric blue earthenware tiles, The Londoner by Edwardian Hotels London bills itself as the world’s first “super boutique hotel”.
While there is no industry standard definition of a boutique hotel, this superlative is perhaps designed to emphasize the characterful and masterful design, led by Yabu Pushelberg (whose portfolio includes The Times Square Edition) and the impressive art collection (a collaboration between Yabu Pushelberg, James Robertson Art Consultants and Krishma Singh Dear of Edwardian Hotel London). Design indeed plays a major role in infusing a sense of soul in an area so often described as soulless: the lobby, a magnificent marble study, dark velvet banquettes and hanging sculptures of the sun and moon from there. artist Andrew Rae, great introduction to what’s to come. There is personality, playfulness and real style.
Unfortunately, those features don’t translate entirely to the upside, in the 350 rooms, some of which have city views and others a slightly dark atrium view. Starting at £ 545, King Rooms (a category above the Master Queen at £ 485) feel a bit tight and claustrophobic, with airtight quality and sterile tiled bathrooms. There are considered touches however, like the Miller Harris toiletries; quirky duck-headed umbrellas, a steamboat in the bedroom, and opera glasses (although the windows are so dirty you might want to keep the curtains closed). Of course, there is also a lavish penthouse, for those who need more space. Guests of all room categories have access to a private membership club-style area called The Residence, open 24 hours a day and strictly for hotel guests only. Tucked up an elegant staircase off the lobby, The Residence is made up of several stylish hangouts, including the intimate Y Bar, The Drawing Room, and a cozy ‘hidden’ whiskey lounge, with just 14 seats.
These locations are just a few of the six food and drink options spread across the property, though not all of them are open yet. The flagship, Whitcomb’s, by executive chef Shailesh Deshmukh, stars the show with pan-Mediterranean dishes well presented, like decadent pies of chewy gorgonzola mousse, topped with thyme blossoms and a splash of garlic and sea bass served in the pan. in the striped sweater which is both deeply comforting and reassuring upscale. It’s another impeccably designed space, with swirling ceiling artwork, tartar-print chairs, and sprays of fresh flowers. (Here, it’s worth noting that the team is nearly perfect, and if you’re lucky enough to have Kevin as your server, listen to all of his recommendations.)
Much has been said about the Londoner’s wellness center, The Retreat, which is buried over four floors underground and features a chic gym and fitness studio for weekly classes, a 25-meter swimming pool, a restaurant, a barber and a hair dryer. The swimming pool is a fantastic facility in central London, but as such it is already prone to overcrowding. There is also a spa with Omorovicza, Ishga, Ila products. Some therapists are visibly green, but luckily high-end product lines always work.
Overall there are a number of growing pains, which are to be expected as the hotel just opened in early September 2021. No doubt these minor issues (think: baggage confusion; amenities missing; wrong orders) will be sorted in time. One aspect that all guests should be aware of is the Covid-19 protocols, which are virtually non-existent. There’s no social distancing, no readily available hand sanitizer and masks (even spa therapists don’t wear masks when preparing for facials!). There are also no open windows so one can only hope that there is a great air filtration system in place. Perhaps most shocking of all: There’s a full breakfast buffet, something conspicuously absent from any of the hotels this writer has visited since March 2020. While some travelers will no doubt welcome this relaxation “what a pandemic?” political, others will be particularly repulsed, even completely dismayed.
However, in many ways that seems to be the name of the game at The Londoner: it’s very not try to be everything for everyone. And for that, he must be congratulated.
So for a certain type of tourist, The Londoner will be a dream; a retreat where Covid-19 worries don’t exist, or perhaps a newer, brighter, more artistic version of the W Hotel next door. But will it attract more followers or serve as an impetus to bring locals to Leicester Square? Only time will tell.