The Lanesborough is back and it remains the center of Regency opulence it always was.
The Lanesborough has just opened its doors again after an eighteen month renovation period and boy, is it something to behold. It’s a bastion of impeccable, old-world luxury that’s positioned in Knightsbridge (surely the heart of historical upper echelon style) and has seriously enviable views of Hyde Park. All of the 93 rooms were painstakingly attended to during the time the hotel was closed, with any number of expert craftsmen who specialise in nearly-defunct-but-super-opulent trades such as gilding and stenciling employed, and it really shows.
It’s impossible not to be impressed as you enter the lavishly decorated dining room which is positively dripping with Regency pomp – think walking onto the set of the biggest budget, bodice-ripping period drama imaginable, and then double it. It would be a crying shame, then, if the food at Céleste – The Lanesborough’s flagship restaurant – paled in comparison to its surroundings.
Fortunately (and unsurprisingly) this is not the case; with five years under his belt at The Lanesborough’s Parisian cousin, the iconic Le Bristol, head chef Florian Favario has cooked up a range of dishes worthy of his reputation. I opted for the Tasting Menu, which began with cauliflower, and transmuted that humble brassica to heights I didn’t think it could reach, and ended with a caramelised cashew nut praline which set a bar for puddings that I think may have spoiled most others for me: how can a Gü pud seem like a date-night treat now after that praline…?
An enviable problem I know. As was choosing from the Cognac and Armagnac selection (which dates from the 1770s) in The Library Bar, which is like a Gentleman’s Club – the old kind, not the strip club sort – except without the misogynist membership policies and extreme fustiness. For those uninitiated in the complexities of Armagnac, it’s similar to Cognac but slightly more rugged with a touch more texture that gives you a little fire-in-the-belly. Any rap fan will know the oh-so aspirational pleasures of drinking fine brandy, which figuratively places you in a long line of greats: Napoléon, Churchill, Tupac, Ghostface, and Young Thug.
After all that I was understandably weighed down by my own greediness and giddy thoughts of hood-wealth, so I was calmed to see the room was as relaxing and gold-plated-plush as I thought. Because there are no surprises at The Lanesborough: it’s as absurdly decadent as you expected.
WORDS: Benji Walters