Stay: Bulgari Hotel London
It’s hard to believe it’s been 40 years since London last christened a new luxury hotel. Standing inside the Bulgari Hotel London, though, you’d be hard pressed not to call the wait well worth it. Nestled in London’s Knightsbridge neighborhood, home of the wealthiest of London’s wealthy, Bulgari’s latest hotel has quite clearly taken a different path than its brethren: better design, less bling.
Though old hotels with “charm” can certainly charm, there’s also modern solace to be found in a new hotel built entirely from scratch. Bulgari London delivers a unique sensation of isolation not in locale, but rather surprisingly, in soundproofing; you’re not reminded of this through an kind of marketing material, but the affirming thud of closing the room door. You may find yourself doing it twice. Here, silence is the fifth star.
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Within that isolation you’ll also find more time to appreciate a different, more subtle type of luxury appointment. Sumptuous lacquered mahogany, oynx marble and swaths of deeply hued chrome pay homage to British craftsmanship and Bulgari’s Italian design. The hotel’s 85 rooms (surprisingly few) and suites are impressively equipped, each featuring a king-sized bed, a rainforest shower, and a mini bar in the guise of a vintage Bulgari trunk. The suites of course feature much, much more.
Elsewhere, so much of what the hotel has to offer can’t even be seen. Bulgari’s designers embarked downward in their architectural motivations through a veritable complex of facilities — a comely tile-mosaic pool (80+ feet), a high-tech gym and a spa — that are invisible to everyone but its guests. Also tucked away in the hotel’s substructure is a dazzling 47-seat cinema, stocked with a movie collection curated by BAFTA fellow Lord David Puttnam. If recreation isn’t your fancy, you can always tuck into Il Ristorante for risotto and bone marrow and watch guests climb as they descend its sweeping staircase, visit the cigar shop and bar, or borrow a book from the hotel’s library — the hotel even employs a books curator.
Despite the subtleties, Bulgari imparts some feelings forcefully. This is a masculine, Italian hotel, expatriated and austere yet fully aware of its British locale — not unlike the city of London itself.