The Londoner Hotel: Conceptionally Brilliant, But Not Ready for Prime Time

By Mrs. SSO

We were excited to return to London as we had lived there for over a decade – to go back, if only for a vacation was in order now that COVID is ‘under control’.  We love just walking around London, especially at Christmas time.  It is so festive with all the lights and decorated Christmas trees.  I found this new ‘super boutique’ hotel called the Londoner on the AMEX Fine Hotels and Resorts site; it looked conceptionally brilliant!  After checking their website and reading a few reviews, we thought we would check it out. The Londoner has a great Location, a cool vibe, and some very unique aspects for a hotel.  The Londoner is still new, only opening in September 2021 and is one of London’s newest 5 Star hotels but it’s not ready for ‘prime time’ yet.

Location, Location, Location

The Londoner has a great location right on Leicester Square in front of the Christmas Market in the heart of the Theatre District.  It is an easy walk to Green Park, Bond Street for shopping, Mayfair & Soho for great restaurants, Covent Gardens with their massive Christmas tree and not far from Knightsbridge where Harrods and Harvey Nichols are a must for any trip to London.  While a bit of a hike, the Spitalfields Food, Arts Music Market in East London with nearby Vintage shops is well worth the hour walk. If you are not into walking, the Tube stop is steps away.  Of course, the black London cabs circle the area. 

Cool Vibe

Walking into the sprawling bronze and dusky pink lobby the Check In is discreetly to the left when you enter the hotel.  While absorbing the aesthetics, your bags are whisked away and delivered to your room.

With the AMEX Fine Hotels & Resorts reservation, a room upgrade is included, if available.  The front desk staff should be trained better than to say “I can see that there are some rooms available but I need to check with the Manager”. Then after disappearing for 5 minutes he returned to say, “sorry it is not possible to upgrade you right now as the hotel is full, however as you are staying 7 nights with us, as soon as an upgrade becomes available, we will let you know”  Hmmmm – you just said you can see some rooms are available…We never heard a word back from the Front Desk.

The poor Front Desk service did not distract from the original artwork surrounding us, taking us from the small sitting area by the inviting fireplace to The Stage a few steps in front; it is an enormous marble champagne bar and grand piano that occupy the open plan space.

It is not surprising that the Londoner attacks the fashionable. Within a month of opening in September 2021, it has a London Fashion Week catwalk show already under its belt, as well as hosting the a-list Vogue x Tiffany & Co. and BFI London Film Festival parties, The Londoner Hotel has already garnered a reputation as a place to see and be seen, much to Mr. SSO’s chagrin.

Our first evidence of the fashionable vibe is their Christmas tree in the lobby which was fittingly designed by someone who calls the city home. Daniel w. Fletcher.  He has been hailed by Vogue as a leader of London’s fashion community.  David applied his signature aesthetic to hotel’s iconic festive centerpiece pulling influences from his aesthetic and practice to offer a seasonal focal point at The Londoner that has been created with a commitment to sustainability at the forefront. Utilizing offcuts from the studio, the cream moire fabric are offcuts that come from the SS23 collection previously shown at The Londoner, continuing the synergy of the collection debuted in The Ballroom of the hotel.

The Guest Rooms

The guest rooms at The Londoner have been designed by celebrated New York and Toronto-based design agency Yabu Pushelberg and offer a sense of contemporary luxury with a soothing color palette. The Deluxe King Rooms are 29 sq meters with floor-to-ceiling windows, bespoke furniture and original artworks by Ed Pearman and The Connor Brothers.

There’s a king-size bed with a handcrafted Vispring mattress dressed in luxurious Irish linens and feather down pillows. In the ensuite bathroom, you’ll find a vanity sink with an illuminated theatre mirror, rain shower, a Japanese Toto toilet (this is one of the coolest features of the room … of the hotel as they are even in the Residence washrooms)  luxury bathrobes and slippers as well as Miller Harris bathroom amenities. What’s more, there’s a Roberts Bluetooth radio with speakers, a fully stocked minibar with blended cocktails by Avantgarde, a Samsung Smart TV, Nespresso coffee machine (no issue to call Housekeeping to bring a dozen coffee pods for those who love coffee and/or are jet lagged) and a selection of tea from the East India Company, free Wifi, Lutron lighting system, Dyson hairdryer, handheld steamer and bottled Nordaq water.

The first downside to the Room was the very limited storage space.  The clothes closet was very small and there was no dresser.  This was exasperated by it being winter so the suitcases we packed full were full of bulky warm clothes.  So, we needed to be extremely creative in our unpacking.  It’s a hotel designed for 2 – 3 day stays, not a couple for a week in the winter.

The second downside to the Room was the Housekeeping. When we arrived, we found a pair of women’s underwear on the floor beside the bed.  Also, light fixtures work better when they have bulbs in them.  One day we returned at 5pm and the room still had not been cleaned.  These are definitely things that with better training and more staff can be easily fixed.

A Unique & Brilliant Extension to the Rooms:  The Residence

Probably the clincher for us to book the Londoner is that its Guests have access to three exclusive Residence spaces within the Hotel.  There is the Y Bar, the Drawing Bar and the Whisky Bar.  As The Stage Bar in the Lobby is normally very busy, these private escapes for residents of the hotel are treasured. Complimentary antipasti, soft drinks, tea and coffee are served throughout the day and evening, as well as a complimentary breakfast selection of freshly baked patisseries, yoghurts, fresh fruit and artisan cheese between 9am and 12pm. Full bar service and a dining menu are also available which is great when Whitcombs is packed at Breakfast or you just prefer a little privacy and peace and quiet.  There is also a library of handcrafted Assouline books, classic boardgames and the latest newspapers and fashion magazines to enjoy.

Conceptionally brilliant, but to execute The Residence well requires more staff.  The complimentary antipasti table offering was thin and was not regularly restocked.  Service was exceptionally slow to the point we just left.  Again, not difficult fixes.

Innovative Wellness at The Retreat

The Londoner’s Spa and wellness offering, The Retreat, is positioned within the hotel’s depths, offering a modern subterranean space dedicated to mind and body. Safely cocooned from the hustle and bustle of the metropolis above, it contains a tranquil pool with a lap lane and hydropool surrounded by secluded cabanas as well as a sauna and steam room.  Children are welcome but only by reservation during certain hours, which is fair for all.

 

The Londoner Refuel Clinic is a results-driven superfood and drinks clinic that harmonizes nature’s delicious produce with scientifically analyzed supplements, offering a pioneering dining experience designed to improve the functions of body and mind. Somewhere to disconnect and escape, it is a tranquil urban hideaway characterized by natural materials and the soothing sound of water.

Down the hall is a state-of-the-art gym servicing individual fitness ambitions to bespoke personal training .  It is a spacious and high-quality gym in the West End. The space and services have been curated in partnership with Technogym and SB Wellness.

Those in need of pampering can access the onsite hair and nail salon as well as an indulgent selection of skincare and aromatherapy treatments. These are led by a team of expert therapists using luxury sustainable and cruelty-free products, in one of the two zen-like treatment rooms. Signature body treatments include ‘Harmony’ designed for easing tension, which combines Tibetan cupping and acupressure as well as a full body massage using a blend of aromatic essential oils.

Restaurants

The Londoner has an impressive array of Restaurants; something for everyone:  Elegant French Mediterranean cuisine, Japanese rooftop bar, Neighborhood tavern, and Champagne indulgence.

Whitcomb’s:  Is an elegant French Mediterranean. Presenting simple yet elegant cuisine prepared using carefully selected quality ingredients, The Londoner’s fine dining restaurant captures a sense of tradition and modernity with a terrace overlooking Leicester Square. Breakfast is also served here.  There is a fairly standard buffet enabling you to create your own traditional English Breakfast:  scrambled eggs (but if you want any other type of eggs, just ask), bacon, back bacon, sausages, baked beans, mushrooms, tomatoes.  There is also cheese, prosciutto, breads, pastries and a selection of jams.  There is a freshly squeezed juice bar, yogurts, fresh fruit and bowls of granola, seeds & nuts. There is also a full menu with most items included except Grilled steak and Alaskan crab for an additional fee.

The only downside was the staffing.  Service was often very slow and inconsistent: you often had to wait for a table to be cleaned and wait for your coffee to come. Again an easy fix.

We did enjoy Breakfast in the Y Bar one morning.  It was absolutely delightful and the peace and quiet was a nice change of pace from Whitcombs.

With so many amazing restaurants in London and the other reason we came to London to go to our favorite restaurants, we did not eat in the others at The Londoner but they did look great!

8 at The Londoner is a decadent izakaya rooftop bar that reimagines the traditions and informal style of Japanese drinking establishments.

Joshua’s Tavern is a homage to Sir Joshua Reynolds, 18th century portrait artist and former Leicester Square resident, it is a neighbourhood tavern serves terroir-led gins, a selection of perfectly crafted Gintonicas, a refreshing draught beer selection, and a contemporary bill of fare with tavern tid-bits.

The Stage is where the drama unfolds with a spectacular program dedicated to Champagne. A beautiful place to enjoy breakfast, afternoon tea and a grand finale of delicacies and coveted cuvées, The Stage also hosts live performances.

In Summary

The Londoner, the World’s First Super Boutique Hotel is conceptionally brilliant,  but the execution is far from what I would expect given its cost and 5 star rating.  It requires more training of the staff is has and more staff; this would improve the service level dramatically taking the execution to its conceptional brilliance; dressers in the rooms would take it over the top!

The Londoner’s great Location, cool vibe, and some very unique aspects for a hotel, especially The Residence’s three exclusive spaces within the Hotel: the Y Bar, the Drawing Bar and the Whisky Bar combine to create an exceptional ‘super boutique’ hotel in London .  London isn’t short of remarkable hotels, but the Londoner truly is an experience, setting it apart. Artfully designed at every turn, the property is inspiring to say the least, and is one of the trendiest locations to see and be seen at in the city today. Given how great the property could be and the location, we might give The Londoner another chance on our next pre-Christmas trip to London.

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January 2023

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7 Thoughts on The Londoner Hotel: Conceptionally Brilliant, But Not Ready for Prime Time
    Johnny Apec
    8 Jan 2023
     7:03pm

    Good review, thanks.
    Maybe edit Coventry Gardens to Covent Garden and we have ‘Soho’ in London not SoHo.

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    Gary Sutton
    8 Jan 2023
     11:19pm

    It’s an amazing looking place but sounds so disappointing to fall short due to staffing issues. The competition is intense so they need to remedy these shortcomings otherwise they might fall along the wayside.
    I love London hotels, I have never stayed in one, but have dined and sipped many cocktails in many of the cities finest.
    Thanks for the review and next time I am in the city I might drop in for a nosey.
    Kind regards
    Gary.

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    John
    9 Jan 2023
     2:08pm

    Reads that they’re trying to do too much and falling short on staffing. Boutique hotel that come across as being very much a generic department store.

    The bathrooms look dark and gloomy. Not sure on those.

    They’d have been better with a real tree. My friends daughters will decorate it for them – they do a terrific job every year!

    I can only compare with two boutique hotels I’ve been in, both off Times Square in New York. The Algonquin and Iroquois. Both four star hotels. Their rooms looked better than the Londoner, definitely their bathrooms. I only stayed for a few nights in each (although visited both multiple times). Tried their downstairs bars and got on well with them, had a vodka martini in the Iroquois and.. Erm.. It’s stronger than I thought! Nearly needed help back to the room (I’m not a big drinker), to be fair I did have a couple of pints when out getting my dinner. Ate out all the time except for returning one night late where I got a club sandwich. There’s also so many places you can pick up a breakfast in New York I didn’t even look to see what they had available. A lot of the time I was out enjoying New York.

    First night at the Algonquin and I discovered just how good their pillow top beds are. What a sleep I had! Iroquois is the one I prefer, for reasons I can’t even explain myself, but I am happy in either.

    Never had any problems with the previous guest’s underwear being left behind! Never had to complain to change rooms, in any hotel, but that might have been a red line with me demanding a clean room.

    Rooms were always looked after by the cleaning staff, I do try to be as clean as I can be for them – I’m not a mucky pup! My parents had a holiday business and I grew up helping them. I know how devastating it can be when someone leaves a complete mess behind, how long it takes to repair and how much pressure my parents were under to clean and fix the damage. Sometimes it was hearbreaking what people did to them.

    Any requests to their staff, such as for a plug adaptor, were always done quickly. Even get upgrades because I’ve been many times. It’s not hard to provide the right service, you’ve just got to make the staff available. When you do, as my parents found out, people come back time after time. Customers become friends.

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    Steve Hewett
    16 Jan 2023
     11:29am

    Unfortunately understaffing is a common theme in the UK. And that was prevalent before Covid,Brexit,Ukraine. It seems that people do not want to work in the service industry, even when they are unemployed.

    Front desk and the Manager not upgrading you when rooms were available was very poor not least looking at your pictures it was very quiet.

    I hope that when you come back that things have improved.

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    Tom Unden
    17 Jan 2023
     5:10pm

    Underwear on the floor must have been a highlight;) I had someone sleeping in my room once but yet to find underwear.
    It’s interesting/a shame when hotels are conceptually brilliant and tick most of the boxes but service falls short. The first 2 times my wife and I visited the Rosewood in Montecito we left due to the service. The first time (mothers day) we asked for oysters and they only had a bar menu (we sat on the deck overlooking the ocean) that consisted of burger and fries or fries…We ordered the burger and after waiting 45 minutes left. The 2nd time they had more on the menu but got the order completely wrong and made me a $26 G&T that tasted like pure gin. They did offer a glass of champagne and to put in a new order but we were done by that point. The Hotel California had similar issues downtown.

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