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Architecture Hotels Luxury People Restaurants

The Hilton Park Lane London + Galvin at Windows

Pie in the Sky | The Londond’ry Arms

In the property industry, for every floor you go up, a premium is added. Room with a view with a price tag. Presumably there’s a surcharge in the hospitality industry for a table with a view. The Hilton on Park Lane isn’t a universally beloved feature of London. Even the Queen has complained about its architecture (usually she leaves that to her eldest offspring). One way to guarantee the hotel doesn’t blot your horizon is to eat on the 28th floor. There you can see just about every other landmark from Battersea Power Station to Buckingham Palace (at Her Majesty’s displeasure). We’re looking down on The Lanesborough. We’re looking for Isabel. A frenetic excursion in Gurskyism.

The interior of Galvin at Windows by designer Keith Hobbs (who did up Nobu and Shoreditch House) is unfussy retro luxury: all husky creams and musky greens and dusky greys. A galvianised bronze ceiling sculpture unfurling like a giant Christmas cracker across the ceiling towards the view is the only bow to bling. That, and the chunky golden sculpture in the adjacent bar. More of that shortly. In this most English of settings, Chef Patron Chris Galvin has created seasonally inspired menus focused on modern French haute (no pun) cuisine. Head Chef Joo Won caters for an international audience. All Michelin starred of course(s). We opt for the menu du jour. Chris was, as you may know, the opening head chef of The Wolseley five or six years ago.

With a sense of abandon, we can but only reach for rococo hyperbole, revel in baroque pleasure and roll in art nouvelle cuisine. A radical polychromatic dream of texture and flavour. And that’s just the operatic note striking the end of the afternoon: passion fruit and dark chocolate truffle petit fours. Lady Londond’ry would approve. Mourne Mountains of diced and sliced and spliced squid, celery and seaweed come hither, as crisp as a County Down spring day. More than the title deriving mere pie, a main of vegetable tarte fine, cauliflower purée, roasted mushroom and onion juice is a distinctive essay in deconstructivism. That sculptural disruptor in the bar next door – all circles in metallic squares – transcends spheres as pink (think Diana in Savannah) praline mousse, chocolate ganache and (oh, our favourite!) marzipan ice cream. Sometimes, there’s art in simply eating.

Ok, so we’ve nabbed the best table in Galvin at Windows. Good. What’s the opposite of social Siberia? A bay window practically levitating over Hyde Park. Well, it feels like California till the auto blinds descend and the air con turns up a notch or 12. Actually the three pronged propeller shape of the Hilton, gloriously inefficient to build, does generally afford delicious views (who said the hotel’s architecture was crap?). The Thames is invisible, hidden in a sea of greyness and greenery, a chaotic urban mosaic. Wait a minute! What’s that shimmering reflection? We glimpse a pale sapphire pool cradled between the catslide roof of Montevetro and the witch’s hat roof of Chelsea Harbour Tower. There you go, the Thames reduced to a jewel. And, as it turns out, all for no extra than the table stuck next to the kitchen. It’s Good Friday. The Bishop of Stepney, who promotes the reenchantment of society, says, “Live well | Live life to the full | This life is not the end.”

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Design Hotels

Jumeirah + Grosvenor House Apartments London

The High Life

Griege. It’s the oligarch agent’s choice of colour from Belsize Park to Belgrave Square. Ban it. Griege is dull. Safe. Predictable. Life should be black and white with a dash of colour provided by Lavender’s Blue. So it was with a huge sense of relief as we gingerly – ever the shrinking violets – arrived at the Grosvenor House Apartments penthouse party.

Wow! Monochrome hasn’t looked this good since Anouska Hempel styled her eponymous hotel in Amsterdam. Entering the penthouse, via a high speed private lift of course, was like being inserted into a CGI. Writer and broadcaster and general bon viveur Lady Lucinda Lambton recently regaled us with her story of Monkton House, a Sir Edwin Lutyens building transformed by Edward Jones into the 1930s Surrealist style.

Exactly 90 years since construction was completed on Grosvenor House, another Lutyens building, it too has been transformed. This time into reverse hyperrealism (think about it and then catch up). The penthouse interior is undeniably second decade 21st century. It is defined and refined by rows of black framed neo Georgian sash windows and French doors which encircle the rooms like silent sentinels surveying the controlled decoration. This definition and refinement suggest a computer still, a mise-en-scène for the 20 centimetre screen.

Turns out Anouska aka Lady Weinberg, Bond girl turned society gal turned Renaissance woman, actually was the interior designer. A renowned perfectionist, she recently told FT: “I’m a control freak. We do it my way unless you’ve got a better way… Every now and again one of the little people suggests an alternative way of doing things, I say, “You are brilliant, thank you!” And then Anouska does it her own way.

The excuse for the party, if one was needed, was the launch of Jumeirah Living’s At Home. This programme introduces residents to a different aspect of luxury London living each month. Canapés and cocktails by award winning chef Adam Byatt (moreish mussels and multi coloured macaroons), a private viewing of artist designer Mark Humphrey’s first solo show Art in Life and piano playing in the hallway promoted the programme with impressive aplomb.

General Manager Astrid Bray declared, “We are delighted to host Mark Humphrey’s innovative collection Diamonds and Flames. He shows a true talent and his art perfectly complements our aesthetic. We feel Mark’s pieces, mixing classic skills of design with contemporary touches, will further set apart our hotel apartments. We’re combining the discretion of an exclusive Mayfair residence with a more private form of luxury and an immediate sense of home. We’ve people staying three days or a whole year. We’ve all of those!”

Precisely nine decades later, General Editor of the Survey of London Hermione Hobhouse’s words have turned full circle: “The Grosvenor House of the Dukes of Westminster has become the Grosvenor House of innumerable misters.” Now it’s possible again to live like a duke. A 24 hour butler caters for nights in and an Aston Martin Rapide for days out. The aptly named Grosvenor is the largest penthouse. At 448 square metres it’s the size of a decent townhouse.

Grosvenor House greedily grabs two of Mayfair’s golden addresses, Mount Street and Park Lane. A corner site, its terraces benefit from sweeping views across Hyde Park. If residents care to leave the privacy of their apartments, they can lounge in the second floor atrium. Thrillingly open seven storeys to the glass roof, the atrium is a cathedral to relaxation.

To paraphrase (or should that be plagiarise?) the hyperbolic alliterative Lucinda, the Grosvenor House Apartments positively bristle with the beautiful. They are a delight to be in and come up to sensational scratch. Jumeirah Living has proved itself to be a plum player in the field.