The last month has seen all London's boutique hotels getting well and truly into the Christmas spirit and indulging in a spot of good-natured one-upmanship (especially when it comes to decorations!), much to guests' delight. Looking ahead to 2013 there's yet more to look forward to, so join us in a look back at the festive period and a sneak peek at the year ahead.
Christmas trees were of course given a good airing in hotel lobbies across the capital in December, with spectacular gingerbread houses also well represented. One Aldwych meanwhile decided that the way forward was to combine the two with its 25 foot tall Christmas tree decorated with 128 gingerbread people, each lovingly baked by Konditor & Cook. We featured this tree in all its gingerbready goodness on this very blog. Our bloggers also recently sampled the festive afternoon tea at One Aldwych.
At Andaz Liverpool Street, guests were treated to some festive musical cheer in the run up to Christmas. The hotel had a retro jukebox specially installed in its lounge, featuring Christmas songs chosen by staff. These ranged from Mariah Carey's All I Want for Christmas to The Pogues' alternative anthem, Fairytale of New York. Recognising that not everyone has a warm home and family to go to at Christmas, all proceeds were donated to Providence Row, a London-based charity for the homeless.
One group of luxury boutique hotels that really knows how to do Christmas is Red Carnation Hotels. Following the Nutcracker-themed lights switch-on at theMilestone Hotel, founder Beatrice Tollman found time to hand out gifts to theHotel 41 team in person (pic below). You can see more festive shenanigans onour photo blog and on the group's Facebook page.
The true festive battleground for hotels was was as ever focused on their indulgent Christmas packages. We hand-picked the very best in our guide to the top 5 luxury Christmas packages with offerings from The Milestone, The Goring andThe Baglioniamong others. The latter also has a year-rounddining experience deal featuring its lauded Moreno restaurant.
It's not all been about Christmas for the past month though. In December theSanderson Hotel unveiled the latest incarnation of its famous ‘Mad Hatter's Afternoon Tea'. As the name suggests, it is presented in the style of Alice in Wonderland, featuring such delights as carrot meringue served on pea shoots, Jelly Wonderland, Scarlet Martini and a ‘Drink Me Potion'.
2012 was a massive year for new London hotels, thanks in part to a certain international sporting event taking place. One of these new hotels was South Place, a design-led boutique hotel in the heart of the City. Forbes recently ran a full feature on the hotel in which it described it as ‘a model of freshness that speaks to the City's new swing,' and went on to talk of the finance district's growing trend towards the residential. Perhaps South Place will be just the first of many new art-inspired hotels in the City?
Several new boutique hotels are scheduled to open in 2013. One of the most intriguing is the Art'otel London Hoxton, set to open in Shoreditch on an as yet unknown date. The 350-room property will be Art'otel's first foray into the UK and will strongly reflect a yet to be revealed artist.
Another hotly-anticipated 2013 opening is the new London property fromAndre Balasz. Few details are available, though it has been confirmed it won't be a Standard-branded hotel. It will be housed within the old fire station on Chiltern Street in Marylebone and will be a small yet luxurious boutique affair with between 26 and 36 rooms. Definitely one to watch closely as further details are revealed in the months ahead.
2013 will also see the return of some big dates for anyone involved in the boutique hotel sector to mark off in their diaries. The Boutique Hotel Summit, dubbed ‘Europe's only b2b boutique hotel conference', will be held in an as yet undisclosed London venue on 22nd and 23rd May. The slightly broaderIndependent Hotel Show meanwhile will take place later in the year on 30thand 31st October in Olympia.
Finally, 2012 finished in style for Dukes Hotel in Mayfair and the Draycott Hotel in Cadogan Gardens. Dukes was awarded the title of ‘World's Leading Classic Hotel' at the World Travel Awards 2012; and as if that wasn't enough, it also won ‘Europe's Leading Boutique Hotel'. The Draycott meanwhile scooped the title of ‘England's Leading Boutique hotel'. The full winners list can be perused on the World Travel Awards website.
Photo credits: Claridge's Hotel, One Aldwych, Sanderson Hotel, South Place Hotel, Dukes Hotel.