Jeeves takes charge

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - TRAVEL & INDULGENCE - CHRIS­TINE McCABE

The Lanes­bor­ough in Lon­don spe­cialises in a dis­creet, old-world style of ser­vice more usu­ally as­so­ci­ated with the royal house­hold, and that’s down to the ho­tel’s team of 23 but­lers, who as Ber­tie Wooster once noted of Jeeves, “can but­tle with the best of them”.

On hand to wake guests with tea or cof­fee and the pa­per, draw baths, rus­tle up meals at un­godly hours and see to the most out­landish of de­mands, the team is drilled to keep calm and “but­tle” on by Daniel Jor­daan, the South African-born head, clad in spit-pol­ished shoes so shiny I spy my re­flec­tion and sport­ing a lapel rose so pert it must be freshly spritzed.

For­got­ten your silk jim­jams, need a Hor­licks with camel’s milk, can’t work the new­fan­gled in-room tablet? Give them a call, no mat­ter the hour; fussy guests are their thing.

In the Royal Suite prepa­ra­tions are un­der­way for a VIP ar­rival. A gym has been in­stalled in the study, a bat­tal­ion of cloth­ing racks in one of the seven bed­rooms and a TV the size of a bill­board hauled into the liv­ing room (as if the ex­ist­ing tele­vi­sions weren’t al­ready large enough).

All across the ho­tel it’s a hive of well-or­dered ac­tiv­ity. Three full­time florists de­liver posies to bed­side ta­bles; sil­ver pots of tea are whisked to guests newly ar­rived; in the el­e­gant With­draw­ing Room, too-tanned cou­ples are tuck­ing into tiers of dainty cakes while in the Li­brary Bar, cognac bot­tled in the same year Cap­tain Cook sailed to Aus­tralia waits to be poured.

And as we pad through the plush hushed cor­ri­dors, Jor­daan in­di­cates art­work right and left, gen­er­ally horses and gents in Re­gency togs a la Mr Darcy. “The ho­tel has the largest col­lec­tion of orig­i­nal Re­gency paint­ings in the world out­side a mu­seum,” he notes.

So the rather dreary paint­ing above the fire­place in my room is a puzzle. Un­til I press a but­ton on the re­mote and the art­work rolls away in­side its gilt frame to re­veal a tele­vi­sion. An­other TV rises out of a hand­some ma­hogany cabi­net at the end of the enor­mous bed.

“This is one of the few ho­tels in the world to run en­tirely on fi­bre op­tics,” Jor­daan says. All very James Bond, as is the mini bar stocked with Krug, and the bed­side tablet (in eight lan­guages) to con­trol lights and drapes, the pri­vate tele­phone line into every room and the busi­ness cards bear­ing my name and num­ber stashed in the desk drawer (handy for shad­owy assig­na­tions in Soho).

That’s if I can be both­ered ven­tur­ing that far from the ho­tel’s posh possie on Hyde Park Cor­ner right near Buck­ing­ham Palace. The ho­tel re­opened in 2015 as part of the Oetker Col­lec­tion (sis­ter ho­tels in­clude Le Bris­tol in Paris) fol­low­ing an 18-month, lav­ish re­fur­bish­ment of all 93 gue­strooms and suites in­volv­ing 300 em­broi­der­ers, cabi­net-mak­ers, bronz­ers, lac­quer­ers and gilders.

The Re­gency-in­spired makeover was pulled to­gether by ac­claimed de­signer Al­berto Pinto, who died be­fore work be­gan; his sis­ter and busi­ness part­ner com­pleted the pro­ject. It’s a shiny op­u­lence that doesn’t al­ways chime with the comfy English coun­try house look we’ve come to know through BBC cos­tume dra­mas; where’s the faded chintz and dog hair? But that sense of deep, deep lux­ury, a Pinto trade­mark, is the real deal. And there’s glam­our by the lorry load.

Early even­ing Saturday and the ac­tion at the front door might be di­rected by Woody Allen as limo af­ter limo draws up to the por­tico dis­gorg­ing svelte mother and daugh­ter shop­ping teams, car boots bulging with la­belled bags, fer­ried with prac­tised ease by a hu­man chain of door­man and but­lers. An­other but­ler dodges this fra­grant melee and dashes across the road into Green Park, at­tached to three small, very busy dogs.

Like many of the world’s great ho­tels the vibe here is res­i­den­tial; this is a home away from home for many, of­ten fa­mous, guests. So the wel­come is gen­uine and com­fort and pri­vacy paramount from the out­set.

Af­ter check-in, that per­fect pot of tea served in be­spoke Royal Worces­ter ar­rives to the room, crum­pled trav­el­ling togs are spir­ited away to be pressed and a bath is drawn in the Ital­ian mar­ble en­suite, fizzed with royal ex­tract gel pro­duced ex­clu­sively for the ho­tel by Bri­tish master per­fumer Roja Dove. Al­most every el­e­ment of the gue­strooms and suites is be­spoke and rooms are colour coded by floor; the smaller yel­low rooms on the fourth floor are the most charm­ing with a sunny, coun­try house feel and pretty bal­cony as­pect.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.