CULT OF BLING
The first thing that strikes you when you enter the hotel is black; fifty shades and more. There’s also some slate grey and a devilish glint of silver that works as a leitmotif. There’s nothing soft or old- world about the Bvlgari Hotel & Residences that opened its gilded revolving doors in London end- May. While I’m waiting in the lobby for my chaperone, I study its newest residents. There’s a woman in fancy trainers and second- skin sweats with a perfectly shaped bottom and straw- coloured blowaway hair who looks harmless till you catch a glimpse of her deadly rock; there are two young men in trench coats who smell expensive and talk to each other in a soft Russian drawl; a large lady with a groomed poodle hovers at the entrance unsure of whether to allow the Bvlgari world to swallow her whole. The hotel, like the brand, is sassy, selective and edgy. No one who comes to stay here is waiting to be awed by enchanting murals or elaborate drapes. They are here because they live the brand; from the bag they tote to the flick of their wrist which is adorned with a timeless Bvlgari watch, it’s what they understand best and hold dearest.
The first new luxury hotel to be built in London in almost 40 years is located in natty Knightsbridge, round the corner from an upscale Burberry store and walking distance from the famed Harrods. The furnishings and textiles used have been crafted by Italian manufacturers exclusively for Bvlgari. As the elevator opens onto a long corridor, it gleams of new- age chic. The beds in all rooms have a head board upholstered in rich design that is reminiscent of the brand’s trademark jewellery. While the tone is all subdued and lacquered, the custom made silk drapes and silver- finished table lamps create a look that is attractive without being overpowering. The hotel has done away with a mini bar and has a custom made leather trunk instead that opens to reveal a fridge lined with your favourite things. Small touches such as this, the fine Bvlgari toiletries in the bathroom and a larger than usual cupboard go a long way in leaving an impression of complete decadence.
Built in the heart of London, the hotel does not boast sprawling gardens but has its own surprise element in the form of the spa, gym and swimming pool. Spread over two floors, the mood here is all teak, onyx and Vicenzia stone. The 25m pool features shimmering green and gold mosaic like a jewel box, stretching across the length of the basement, only to end in a vitality pool that’s rimmed by gold leaf mosaic. The combination of molten gold tiles, sapphire
blue and burnished emerald tones commands you to unwind, either by diving right in or resting in one of the muslin- trussed cabanas lining the pool. Try the innovative medical pedicure by one of renowned podiatrist Margaret Dabbs’ specialist team where you are fed pure oxygen while your feet are pampered, or sink onto a bed for a signature massage.
The hotel has just one main restaurant, II Rostorante, but chances are guests will prefer to dine elsewhere in Knightsbridge where it’s more relaxed. Both the bar and restaurant lack personality, even though an attempt has been made to embellish them with the Bvlgari jewellery motif. The food is easy on the palate and chef Robbie Pepin truly understands Italian cuisine and honours its authenticity but that’s where the food experience ends. The bar and restaurant lack the busy London vibe which makes eating out in this city such a heady experience.
While Bvlgari London is not the kind of hotel kids will take to, Suri Cruise- esque divas can be rest assured they will be pampered right and have access to their own child- size bath robes, slippers and even toiletries.
Bvlgari smells and speaks money and its glossy image is likely to attract those who adore the brand and want a hotel that screams location, location, location. As for me, with one push of the revolving doors, I’m back out on a rain- swept London street, light years away from that world.
THE GLOSSY BLACK FACADE OF LONDON’S NEWEST LUXURY HOTEL IN
KNIGHTSBRIDGE IS BUILT FOR THE HIGH AND MIGHTY, FINDS PRACHI BHUCHAR
THE SPARKING UNDERGROUND POOL IS A TRANQUIL SPOT TO ENJOY A PRIVATE MOMENT AFTER A SPA TREATMENT
THE TAPESTRY USED IN THE ROOMS DRAWS ON THE BRAND’S JEWEL MOTIFS