JC Stays: The Biltmore Mayfair, London

Thoughtful luxury and some impressive dining at one of London's new hotels


Presiding along one side of Grosvenor Square, in the heart of Mayfair, The Biltmore hotel is a swish reincarnation of what was originally the slightly fuddy duddy The Millennium Hotel. The £60 million reimagination, by Hilton’s new, top-end LXR brand, didn’t stint and it shows.

Gone is the trad décor and old-fashioned feel, replaced instead with heaps of good taste and a sprinkling of razzmatazz.

The latter comes to the fore in the entry lobby, which segues into a cocooning lounge area, and which has a smattering of glitz more usually seen in Middle Eastern hotels (Dubai is where the first LXR hotel lives, with the London property being the brand’s second opening).

But it remains on the right side of outré: gleaming marble floors you could skate across are softened with thick carpets, cascading crystal chandeliers are not too blinding, while layers of textures — dove grey panelled walls, gold shimmering metal art-work, and velvet seating — are alluring to the eye.

The 307 rooms are super stylish, although the 57 suites really showcase the fine-tuned aesthetic. Light-grey herringbone floors are offset with smart, navy velvet sofas and glam, scarlet tub chairs. Behind the bed, with its dreamy fabrics, an antique mirrored wall gives a 1920s feel.

Bathrooms are super luxe, too, with egg-shaped tubs, marble counters and ‘intelligent’ loos that heat up when you sit down.

While style seems to be the driving force, practicalities have not been forgotten — the bathroom is stocked with pleasingly useable products, such as toothbrushes and toothpaste, as well as covetable Penhaligon’s concoctions.

Irons and ironing boards, coffee machines and a pile of curated books you’d actually want to read (like Frances Corner’s intelligent Why Fashion Matters) reveal a thoughtfulness behind the design.

One of the hotel’s main pulls is the fact that Michelin-starred chef Jason Atherthon is presiding over the restaurant, The Betterment.

Aiming to be more than a bog-standard hotel eaterie, it’s already garnered rave reviews, and offers a separate entrance to entice London’s discerning foodies, as well as a heated outdoor terrace that will no doubt come into its own in the summer months.

Your meal will kick off with bubbles offered from a rolling Champagne trolley, a nice throwback touch, while the menu is a seasonally-driven mix of wood-fired fish, signature salads and plant-based plates.

There’s a focus by head chef Paul Walsh on provenance so the menu features a list of where the main ingredients are sourced from (carrots from Surrey, for instance, and rainbow chard from Somerset).

Simple and elegant, the dishes all have a modern and fresh appeal, with a few surprises that might need explaining — such as the aloe vera with potato and what exactly are Coco de Paimpol? (Turns out they are white beans).

I was told that the Onion Flower side was a must and it’s true — crispy and subtle, it’s so tasty that it could work as a main course.

The wine list is also inventive, and overseen by head sommelier Stefan Kobald. With over 800 bins, it aims, he says, to celebrate the best wine makers from around the world while championing new producers and small wine makers.

In terms of facilities, there is a well-equipped gym to work off any over-indulgences, but, in truth, the charm of The Biltmore is the fact that it is simply a great place to stay, smack bang in the middle of central London.

Yes, it will certainly appeal to visitors to the capital, but it’s also perfect for Londoners wanting to have a cheeky night on the town.


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