The closest luxury beds to The Tower of London are at Four Seasons Hotel London at Ten Trinity Square – it is about 300 metres away from where medieval royalty, sometimes imprisoned, used to stay. The hotel is the same distance from Tower Hill underground tube station, which makes it most agreeable for many reasons.
First, The Tower of London. It traces its roots to The White Tower, built by William the Conqueror in 1076, ten years after he arrived in England. It has seen so much life since. Those imprisoned there during the years included Queen Elizabeth I and Sir Walter Raleigh. Today it houses the 140 Crown Jewels, which attract just under three million visitors a year. Officially owned by Queen Elizabeth II, it is a UNESCO World Heritage site. You can skip the £25 admission fee if you have a London Pass: best time to start standing in line for entrance is at the opening time, 9 am Tuesday to Saturday, 10 am Sunday and Monday – later in the day, the lines can be horrendous.
If you are, cleverly, staying at Four Seasons Hotel London at Ten Trinity Square, not only can you look across at the Tower but you can enjoy a leisurely breakfast before slowly sauntering across to it. The hotel is, actually, within the legal bounds of the Tower, and every three years, which happens to be 2020, Beefeaters, as representatives of the Tower, ceremoniously inspect it. There is a plaque in the hotel stating that this is #10 of 22 ‘arrow’s flight’ around the Tower.
The hotel’s building has been full of ceremony since it was opened in 1922 as the becolumned headquarters of the Port of London Authority – it was designed by Sir Edwin Cooper in classical style. Today it is owned by the Bangkok-based Reignwood Group, whose Chairman, Dr Chanchai Ruayrungruang, owns Red Bull throughout China (at his Fairmont Hotel Beijing, he has a lifesize copy of Milan’s La Scala opera house and he hosts occasional big-name performances there). The hotel designer is Bruno Moinard, the Parisian who has a brilliant way with classic buildings: it is rumoured he will be updating Four Seasons Milan.
There are 100 bedrooms, which include nine heritage suites, some of which have flooring on two levels. Personally I really like the 175-square-metre Presidential Suite, #302, which has 1.5 bathrooms, Lorenzo Villoresi toiletries, and, so stylish, the Parlux 3200 hairdryer sits in a fabric bag in a suede box. Other luxury pointers? The Nespresso machine has hotel-logo paper cups as well as Royal Doulton mugs, and notepads by telephones are gold-printed. There are also, by the way, a number of letting Residences, with up to four bedrooms. These are ideal for families or other small groups, or for entertaining: minimum stay is one night, and room service and full hotel privileges are included.
Some may want to get their exercise walking the Tower, and/or heading to Bond Street or Mount Street for superior retail. Others will appreciate the hotel’s excellent in-house wellness, which includes four Body Slimmer machines, and an indoor pool.
Full traditional English afternoon tea, with scones and cream, is served in the Rotunda Lounge. There is a Private Members’ Club, now run by the hotel. The Club has food by Anne-Sophie Pic but you can get that in the main hotel, at the Michelin two-starred La Dame de Pic. Cleverly, the restaurant shares a reception desk with the alternative dining venue, Mei Ume, a Chinese-Japanese mélange designed by AB Concepts. It is really delightful, and not surprisingly fills up with local gourmets: the menu features mainly Japanese starters and Chinese main courses, with such signatures as Peking duck and Australian lobster tail with ginger and spring onion. I had seven-kind moriawase, assorted sashimi, followed by roasted black cod marinated in yuzu soy with karashim mustard of Brassica juncea, served on a grill on top of a 10 cm-tall pot. I was with Belgian GM/RVP Vincent Hoogewijs, and we followed Quincy Sauvignon Blanc 2018 Loire with a 2015 Gévrey-Chambertin Vallet Frères.
Breakfast is served in the Rotunda but I had an early start so checked out the leather-covered room service menu. I passed on a hotel special, ‘Trinity sugar-free chia bircher mueseli’ with soy milk, choice of added banana or mixed berries. My plain yoghurt and omelette came on gold-patterned Rosenthal, and the wholewheat toast had both salted and unsalted Netherend Farm butters, from Gloucestershire, and a selection of English (Tiptree) and French (Alain Milliat). I had plenty of excellent coffee in an Alfi stainless pot. This place has lots of style, I thought as I headed over to Tower Hill station, the quickest way to get to Heathrow, via Paddington and Heathrow Express.
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