The Ideal London Apartment
Home rentals are an attractive option for a traveling family—that is, when the property matches the images shown on the Internet. After experiencing a recent bait and switch in Provence, where the “villa” I was supposed to inhabit turned out to be a dilapidated farmhouse, I began defaulting to the predictability of a hotel. But while making plans for a spring break in London, I heard about the two-year-old Grosvenor House Apartments by Jumeirah Living, which has packaged the idea of a prime apartment rental with the benefits of a five-star hotel. The rewards of a rental without the risk—in Mayfair, no less? I booked on the spot.
Both the location (perched at the corner of Mount Street and Park Lane) and the lineage (the house is the former 19th-century residence of Robert Grosvenor and the Dukes of Westminster) lend instant prestige to the property. But once inside, the vibe is decidedly low-key and modern. Interior-design powerhouse Anouska Hempel revamped the edifice from top to bottom with schemes that play to the building’s heritage and contemporary personality.
To wit: The lobby’s atrium is sleek and open, with strategically placed original artwork inviting guests to venture further inside. In the middle, where a grand staircase once stood, the hotel restaurant basks in the glow of a seven-story ceiling studded with a dramatic high-tech chandelier.
But the rooms are what really wow. (Grosvenor’s 130 apartments range from studios to the five-bedroom, nearly 5,000-square-foot penthouse.) Our spacious, state-of-the-art two-bedroom, two-bath unit—complete with a phenomenal view of Hyde Park—featured amenities like flatscreen televisions, electronic shades, multiple temperature controls, multi-setting lighting (excellent for makeup application), a washer and a dryer and a full kitchen. Triple-paned windows blocked the din of London traffic. The bathrooms, often a musty affair in London, were bright and had excellent water pressure. Complete living and dining areas allowed my family to eat in and relax comfortably after a busy day.
Service is stellar but understated (i.e., no hovering). The hotel scored us challenging dinner reservations, an emergency hair appointment and various tickets, but when the concierge personally trotted out to procure decongestants for my hideous cold, I knew I was someplace special. The illness is already forgotten, but the experience will be treasured. Rooms start at $830; corner of Mount St. and Park Ln.; 44-20/7518-4444; jumeirah.com.