LONDON: Walking through the Sheraton Grand London Park Lane, it’s almost as if we’ve never really left the Middle East. With its prime West End location — just a short walk from Oxford Street, Bond Street and Knightsbridge — and its willingness to cater to Arab travelers (removing alcohol from your room, offering prayer mats, and providing halal cuisine) the hotel has quite the fan base from the region. During our recent group stay, nothing was deemed too complicated for staff and they were happy to help.
Accommodating service aside, the hotel’s history is what impressed us the most. The Sheraton Grand first opened (as The Park Lane Hotel) in 1927; a time when Art Deco was the definitive style movement in the English capital, influencing all forms of design – fashion, film, interiors and architecture. This luxury property was unique at the time, and unashamedly modern. When Sheraton Hotels & Resorts took over in 1996, that history was thankfully retained; for example, there are copies of hotel magazine “The Park Lane Courier” dated 1929-30; plus a letter dated 1939 from developer and former chairman Sir Bracewell Smith notifying guests that The Park Lane was one of the safest places to be in London during World War II. The stunning ballroom — which has been used as a location for several international films including “The Danish Girl” and “Goldeneye” — displays old clippings and signage that indicate it had been selected as the shelter location for politicians had the Houses of Parliament taken a direct hit during World War II.
There are five categories of room available — from Classic to Grand Suite. We stayed in a mid-range Club Room that offered restricted views of the capital’s skyline, including the London Eye and The Shard. More impressive was the room’s size — ‘spacious’ is not a word we’d normally associate with London — while the Sheraton’s signature bed didn’t disappoint. If you don’t know what we’re talking about, Google it. The brand’s beds are legendary in their own right.
Oh. And the hotel is home to London’s first-ever ‘Five Senses’ suite, created in collaboration with a behavioral scientist and psychologist. The $2,065-per-night room is said to have a selection of items and experiences that induce happiness. Yes. Really.
Holidays are not complete without some good food, of course, and there are options here — some better than others. The breakfast buffets in both Italian restaurant Mercante and the Club Lounge left a lot to be desired, while Mercante’s dinner offering was also distinctly average.
But those disappointments were overcome by the glorious signature afternoon tea in the Palm Court, along with the modern British dishes at the pet-friendly Smith & Whistle, where a ‘dogtail’ menu — London’s very first permanent drinks list created exclusively for canine consumption — is available. Your furry friend can enjoy beverages including a ‘Poochie Colada’ and ‘Bubbly Bow Wow.’
At the time of publishing, rooms started from SAR 1,561 for a stay at the beginning of November. A stay at the Sheraton Grand is certainly not cheap, but as the saying goes, you get what you pay for. The location will save a lot on taxis and public transport, and the rooms really are spectacularly spacious. Whether you’re with friends or family, it’s perfect for a seasonal stay.
THE LOWDOWNWHERE: Sheraton Grand London Park LanePRICE: From $416 per night at start of NovemberNO. OF ROOMS: 303PHONE: +44 20 7499 6321WEBSITE: sheratonparklane.com