The view from the window from my new Mayfair Collection room, high up at the InterContinental Hotel Park Lane, was impressive. No question, a memorable London vignette.
Hyde Park Corner, it’s usual hectic self – an endless tide of cars circling like worker bees around Wellington Arch. Directly below, Apsley House, the London home of the Dukes of Wellington, was looking particularly stately in the afternoon sun and the trees lining the two London’s Royal Parks were just beginning to blossom.
The InterContinental has been a part of Hyde Park Corner’s exclusive collection of grand hotels for as long as I can remember. Its prime corner slot at Number One Park Lane, the gateway to Mayfair, envied by many suitors over the years. The legendary Les Ambassadeurs Club next door, just one of Mayfair’s well-heeled trappings within easy walking distance.
There were many things for me to look forward to on this visit; the recently renovated Mayfair Collection rooms, the seventh floor Club InterContinental lounge and Theo Randall’s eponymous Italian restaurant – something of a London staple having had its berth at the lobby level for well over a decade.
Talking of lobbies, there was no disguising the intentions of this one. The acres of marble and cream and black tones reflected a sense of timeless yet contemporary elegance. It felt warm and inviting, a pleasant change from the soulless lobbies of numerous big brand luxury London hotels. Just before the elevators, the Wellington Lounge and Arch Bar were a tempting diversion as was the hotel’s other restaurant, Ella Canta, where chef Martha Ortiz offers up a contemporary take traditional Mexican fare. However, I was keen to see what my Mayfair Collection room was like.
Upstairs, the renovated Mayfair Collection deluxe room didn’t disappoint. Large and airy with soft pastels of grey with wood surrounds and bronze fittings. The wooden theme making its way onto the mirrors as a metal sculpted tree trunk and onto the plush carpet as autumnal leaves. An artful design intended to link the hotel with the adjacent Royal Parks splayed out below. Bluetooth and USB powered ports saved having to use power adapters and I really liked the thoughtful three-button lighting: low, medium and high with another for setting a nightlight. Simple yet effective, just the way I like it.
Up in the rarefied air of the seventh floor, the Club InterContinental lounge awaited. A quiet place to sit back and relax with soft drinks, dips and nuts available all day and a glorious view across London from the floor to ceiling windows. High tea is served from 3 pm with cakes, scones and sandwiches, and then after 6 pm, it’s happy hour, champagne, cocktails and wines with canapes.
The high tea was a three-tiered tray of delightful goodies with more than enough cream and jam to not worry about which one to spread first (I always do the cream first, but perhaps that should be a topic for another story). The selection of teas was also impressive, classic black breakfast blend and Darjeeling of course, but I prefer a more robust tea and so the Assam and Royal Club blends both did the trick for me.
Club guests can also take breakfast up here too, a combination of buffet dishes and hot food to order. It’s a much more discreet version of the main breakfast on offer in Theo Randall down by the lobby.
Talking of Theo Randall, the former River Café maestro who during his 15-year tenure orchestrated its Michelin star is alive and well and has been at the helm of his Italian restaurant here since 2006. There is nothing overly ostentatious about the food, (the menu changes daily) just beautifully cooked authentic Italian dishes handled with the utmost care.
After a delicious antipasti of mozzarella di bufala with grilled marinated red peppers, cicorino (chicory leaves), swiss chard and olives (£14), I was totally torn between two pastas, both of which sounded perfect. A green ravioli with swiss chard, rocket, sheep ricotta, butter and sage or pappardelle with cured beef, braised radicchio, mascarpone and Parmesan (£14/£21).
“Sorry, can’t decide on the pasta,” I said to my very patient waiter.
“Why not try a little of both” he said, “we can do that.” And they did, and I loved them both, although the pappardelle just edged it for me.
The mains were two fish dishes; a roasted sea trout (£24) or sea bream (£28), and a guinea fowl (£36) stuffed with prosciutto di Parma, lemon zest and Mascarpone. Although I am not a great fan of guinea fowl, I could see the obvious merits of the roasted fish. Trouble was I wasn’t really in a fish mood either. Sensing my hesitance, my waiter came gallantly to the rescue once more.
“Mr Andy, I come from the Venezia region where our polenta is famous. I promise you; it is so good it reminds me of the food in my home town. Trust me, you will love it.” And so, quite unexpectedly, I ended up eating an epic vegetarian main, which like the man said, was really, really good. Grilled bramata polenta with portobello and porcini mushrooms, chilli, parsley and roasted datterini tomatoes (£21).
Satiated by memorable Italian fare and a couple of glasses of chianti I spent the rest of the night in delightfully undisturbed slumber, not a sound passing through my walls.
The InterContinental London Park Lane remains one of London’s landmark hotels on perhaps the capital’s most contested acre of land.
Tell me more about InterContinental London Park Lane
InterContinental London Park Lane, One Hamilton Place, Park Lane, Mayfair, London W1J 7QY
T: 0044 20 7409 3131
Rooms from £379 whilst Mayfair Collection rooms from £429