Hotel Review: The Wellesley and All that Jazz
We recently visited London and when it comes to accommodations, the city has a hotel for everyone. Whether you want to go with something traditionally English or modern and hip, the choices abound. For us, we wanted to explore a period in the not too distant past: the roaring 20s—a time of opulence and glamour, mystery and creativity and of course, jazz. The only hotel in London that can send guests back to the glitz and glory of the jazz era while offering today’s modern luxuries is the Wellesley.
Located in Knightsbridge, the Wellesley beckoned us in like the pulsing green light of Daisy Buchanan’s dock. Upon arrival, we were warmly greeted by the friendly bellman that knew our name and was expecting us. Entering the boutique hotel, it feels as though you are stepping into the home of Jay Gatsby himself. The art deco interior exudes cool luxury with its white columns, marble- lined floors and walls, glittering glass chandeliers, and warm lighting. The staff is polished, friendly and eager to please.
Known as London’s first “grand boutique hotel,” the Wellesley opened in December 2012 boasting 36 rooms and suites, all with luxurious comforts and amenities. The 14 one-bedroom suites are named after prominent figures of the 1920s from Josephine Baker and Ella Fitzgerald to Louis Armstrong and Charlie Chaplin. The rooms feature Hypnos beds with Egyptian cotton sheets, hand-cut Carrara marble bathrooms with heated floors, and iconic Hermès amenities.
The Samsung tablet placed in each room serves as a gateway to all things Wellesley but also allows you to read newspapers from around the world or browse the internet.
Every guest has access to the hotel’s 24-hour Butler service which provides everything from unpacking services to steaming/pressing and even personal shopping.
Dining at the Wellesley is not to be missed. The hotel’s à la carte menu can be enjoyed in several locations including your own room. The Oval Restaurant, Jazz Lounge, and Cigar Terrace all serve authentic Italian cuisine. Guests can also indulge in a full traditional English breakfast or Afternoon Tea.
No stay at the Wellesley is complete without a night in the Jazz Lounge. In the 1930s, the hotel was home to the Pizza on the Park Jazz Club. In keeping with the building’s tradition, the owners of the Wellesley created the Jazz Lounge which features live performances every Friday and Saturday night. The intimate room is draped in velvet with a small stage enveloped in a crystal curtain inspired by Coco Chanel. Guests are invited to break out their flapper dresses and tailcoat suits to fully experience the Fitzgerald-esque ambiance of the lounge. During our stay, we enjoyed the sultry sounds of Rebecca Poole whose repertoire including everything from classics to modern rock songs with a jazz twist. Our dinner in the lounge began with a cocktail from their famous Prohibition Menu which features popular drinks from the speakeasy era. Dinner included deliciously seared scallops and dark chocolate glazed lamb chops. Though we barely had room for dessert, our server presented us with a beautiful display of truffles in a cigar box which we could not refuse. The night ended in the Crystal Bar with a raspberry martini carefully crafted by the charismatic French bartender who delighted in telling us about the bar’s collection of vintage liquors dating from the 1700s.
Our visit at the Wellesley was a sweet respite from the hustle and bustle of London and the modern world. Though we did not indulge in some of the Wellesley’s most luxurious amenities such as a ride in the complimentary house Rolls Royce (for destinations within a 1.5mi radius of the hotel); nor did we seek the expertise of the renowned Wellesley concierge, we could not have been happier with our stay, and only wish it had been longer. For those seeking the best boutique hotel in luxury, service, ambiance, and all that jazz… The Wellesley is the place to be.