If 2019 follows 2018’s lead to become another scorcher of a summer, then the most seductive hotel suite in London could well turn out to be the Rosewood hotel’s Garden House. This handsome penthouse comes complete with an expansive private roof terrace that’s perfect for intimate gatherings and meals al fresco, and offers an unexpectedly impressive panorama of the City’s ever-growing array of skyscrapers.
It’s not just the golden 'Garden House' signage that distinguishes this suite from the other rooms on Rosewood London’s seventh floor. Etched on wallpaper, a tangle of branches in bloom envelop the door; to the side, a silver owl stands sentry on a perch. They provide the first suggestion that something pastoral is perhaps in store.
Guests enter directly to the lounge, designed like the rest of the suite and hotel by Tony Chi. The Taiwan-born, New York-based designer did a sterling job on the property as a whole - though it debuted in 2013, its interiors still stand out as some of the most stylish of any luxury hotel in the city - and his Garden House really does have the feel of an uncommonly chic cottage somehow planted on a London rooftop.
Discreet despite its size, the lounge’s vast TV is sheathed by a mirrored panel; instead and more appropriately, the focal point during my visit was the abundance of perfectly white hydrangeas that overflowed from a vase pitched right in the centre of the coffee table.
To the right is the elegant bathroom, its marble tub beside a marble walk-in shower and with Czech & Speake toiletries spread all over. Next is the bedroom - smaller than expected - but comfortably finished with Rivolta Carmignani Italian linens and embroidered pillowcases, followed by a walk-in wardrobe with dressing counter.
As seems to often be the case with luxury travel, things step up a notch when guests instead turn left. The hallway that leads to the dining room has been repurposed as a drinking nook, a banquette along one side leading handily to a counter laden with all manner of spirits and, beside it, a full-size fridge crammed with soft drinks and mixers. (The latter are gratis, while among the former selection two gins and one whisky are complimentary.)
On colder days, the dining room makes a cosy spot for long lunches or lazy evenings thumbing the multiple glossy tomes piled high along the shelves - but whoever books the suite will be counting on good weather.
A doorway by the dining room leads to the suite’s terrace and while I’m unsure it stretches to the 60sq metres the Rosewood team claims, it’s an inviting, versatile space encased by shrubbery and with an unexpectedly impressive view of the City’s skyline and a slew of notable landmarks that extends from the Shard to Tate Modern to the London Eye.
What to expect
London’s top hotels are awash in flouncy supersuites and anodyne long-stay residences. A strength of Rosewood London’s Garden House suite (and its nearby Manor House suite, which is larger but devoid of outdoor space) is that it is truly easy to imagine it as a home from home.
Much of that is thanks to Tony Chi’s masterful eye for design (for proof that Rosewood’s head honchos remain delighted by the job he did in London just look to their newly opened Hong Kong flagship - he was brought in to sort that out as well). But it’s the setting and service too.
While back in 2013 Holborn wasn’t considered an obvious location for a luxury hotel - and some would say that hasn’t changed - the suite’s rooftop terrace does provide a panorama that even for lifelong Londoners will be entirely unfamiliar and unexpected. Guests with friends in the city will undoubtedly want to arrange al fresco drinks or dinner - the six-seater outdoor dining table is just the right size for an intimate get-together.
Service here has come on leaps and bounds over the years, too. Each Garden House suite booking comes with round-the-clock butler service. Our French attendee Serge struck just the right balance between personable and professional and comes with an unexpected skill set: after some years working on the New York bar scene, he can be happily enlisted to serve cocktails to your guests on your temporary rooftop.
Shortcomings are few, and easily rectified in places. For some unfathomable and frustrating reason, our group was unable to connect via Bluetooth to the suite’s speaker system - for dinner, our Spotify playlist was broadcast via mobile phone instead. Less easily remedied, the building’s listed status means the space allocated to the bedroom is surprisingly squat. Guests accustomed to staying in hotels’ best suites will be used to far larger.
Unquestionably the terrace. On warm summer evenings it makes a particularly lovely spot for sundowners, perhaps a few crisp G&Ts prepared in a jiffy by your butler.
Not so keen
Comfortable though it is, the bedroom lacks wow factor.
This handsome Holborn bolthole has always looked the business, and recent improvements to its F&B offering has upped its standing on ‘London’s best hotels’ lists too. The Mirror Room is the setting for casual all-day dining and a clever art-inspired afternoon tea (its dainty sweets and pastries currently pay homage to Van Gogh); Scarfes Bar’s inventive cocktail list, meanwhile, pays tribute to an eclectic range of singers and musicians, from Prince to Pavarroti. While there’s no pool and relaxation facilities are limited, the basement spa offers a decent selection of well-administered treatments.
A minute’s walk from Holborn Tube station, the hotel is well located for visits to the British Museum and Sir John Soane’s Museum. Covent Garden and Soho are within walking distance; Mayfair and Bond Street are easily accessed by Tube or taxi.