THE FORMER US embassy was such an oppressive blot on Grosvenor Square’s landscape that it made it very difficult to enjoy this particular corner of Mayfair.
But now the Americans have shipped out to Vauxhall, the Square’s other residents have room to breathe.
None more so than The Biltmore Mayfair, Europe’s first LXR Hotels & Resorts property (the top-flight arm of Hilton’s portfolio).
It was reopened in 2019 after an extensive renovation – and this summer enjoys the addition of eight new Signature Suites, including the John Adams Suite named after the second President of the United States who lived on the Square on his first ambassadorial mission to London.
We check in – and check it out.
The Biltmore has a suitably impressive atrium: a large circular room boasting a crystal chandelier so long it almost tickles the top of the central floral display, crowned by a giant gilt-silver ceiling medallion.
It sounds gaudy, but somehow isn’t, possibly because everything else – from the hotel bar to the elevator hall – is very Wes Anderson. You feel that bit cooler just being here.
The hotel features 250 rooms and 57 suites, including its eight Signature Suites. The overall style is what I shall coin ‘deft deco’ – it nods to the 1920s without feeling like you’re stuck in an Agatha Christie novel.
Light parquet flooring is offset by dark wood furnishings and rich brass fixtures; there are leather desks with contrast stitching for when you need to work like a boss; and dark blue velvet sofas for when you don’t.
The views of Grosvenor Square offer such a wall of green (at least in summer) that you can almost trick yourself into thinking you were somewhere far from Zone 1 – and offer views that will impress even seasoned Londoners.
There are some nice local touches – British-made Ruark digital radios; London-made Penhaligon’s lotions; and even your own black golf umbrella – we are in England, after all.
There’s also a very un-British Toto toilet – with his and hers settings and multiple pulsating functions. We’ll leave it there.
FOOD AND DRINK
Right now, it's all about Café Biltmore. Michelin-starred chef Jason Atherton oversees operations, so the menu features his reliable mix of classic seasonal dishes with fresh, modern twists.
Crucially in this post-Covid world, there is lots of outside space – including a giant living wall adding much appreciated greenery. And if you’re in the mood for an afternoon tea or a morning mimosa, the achingly stylish bar will be happy to provide.
The hotel has launched a series of new experiences for its guests to enjoy London and beyond. There’s a walking tour of Regency London – very Bridgerton – which promises to uncover the secrets of the glamorous aristocracy that resided there in the 1800s.
Following the tour, guests can enjoy a Regency Delight – a warming cocktail made of warming Four Roses bourbon, vintage port and sweet Frangelico liqueur.
If you want to travel further afield, The Biltmore has also partnered with Royal Rental so you can rent a Bentley for the day. A suitably luxurious car for a suitably luxurious hotel. And not an American diplomat in sight.
Rates at The Biltmore Mayfair start from £309 on a B&B basis. lxrhotels3.hilton.com