A project 35 years in the making, Venetia van Kuffeler reports
on the official opening of The Peninsula London

The London hotel event of the year, possibly the decade, recently took place on Hyde Park Corner. The Peninsula London held their official opening event; a party to rival all others. The Kadoorie family, owners of the property, invited a couple of thousand of their nearest and dearest, including the great and the good of London society, a smattering of celebrities, plus a number of key Heads of Mission accredited to the Court of St James’s, such as the Dean of the Diplomatic Corps, Ambassador of Honduras His Excellency Ivan Romero-Martinez and his wife Mirian.

A party to rival any state banquet, over 2,500 guests from across the globe arrived on the red carpet to be greeted by Chinese Lion Dancing followed by an unforgettable night of entertainment from the London Philharmonic Orchestra, several live bands and renowned DJs, and priceless vintage cars. Caviar, lobster, fois gras and the finest sushi were served, all washed down with magnums of The Peninsula’s house champagne. Dim sum was served in Canton Blue and those who made it up to Brooklands by Claude Bosi on the eighth floor enjoyed Dom Perignon while marvelling at the sunset over Buckingham Palace Gardens and the London skyline.

Royal guests included King Pavlov of Greece, Lady Helen Taylor and Prince Michael of Kent. Guests of honour, The Duke and Duchess of Edinburgh unveiled a commemorative plaque, marking the culmination of this momentous project, which was nearly 35 years in the making. The Hon. Sir Michael Kadoorie, Chairman of The Hongkong and Shanghai Hotels said: “Our dream of owning and operating a Peninsula Hotel in London has become a reality. It is our hope that The Peninsula London will become an icon in the city and be recognised by our guests as one of the finest hotels in the world.”

Back in January, my husband and I were delighted to experience stay in the hotel to see if it lived up to the hype. Bringing spectacular luxury to the heart of Belgravia, the newly-built hotel is just round the corner from the diplomatic missions of Belgravia, Mayfair and Knightsbridge, and a short walk from Buckingham Palace and Westminster. The property’s off-street courtyard, landscaped with two 120-year-old Japanese maple trees allows guests to arrive in discreet and secure fashion. The hotel’s luxury automotive fleet is often on display there, including both new and restored vintage Rolls-Royce limousines, Bentley Bentaygas, BMW i7s, and London black taxis.

Much of the building’s wow-factor is down to world-renowned architect and designer Peter Marino who has created light-filled spaces inspired by grand British houses and surrounding nature. Starting at 50 square metres, spacious guest rooms and suites feature bespoke furnishings and textiles. These rooms need to be seen to be believed: all include mahogany-panelled dressing rooms, onyx stoneware bathrooms, and customised fittings crafted by renowned British artisans, as well as original works by artists from The Royal Drawing School. Many have floor-to ceiling-windows with exceptional views over Wellington Arch and Belgravia, offering guests a unique sense of place. Four signature suites are ideal for VIP guests, three of which enjoy grand private balconies and terraces, and also make for impressive venues for special-occasion gatherings.  The hotel’s most opulent suite, The Peninsula Suite, includes a private screening room and fitness centre.

Six stylish restaurants, bars and lounges are housed within the property. Highlights include Canton Blue, serving innovative Chinese cuisine, cocktails, teas, and amazing décor to celebrate the spice-trade union of Asian and British cultures. Canton Blue’s design takes inspiration from the Keying junk, a trade ship that sailed between Asia and Europe during the mid-ninteenth century. Two beautiful private dining spaces are ideal for special gatherings: The Silk Room with walls lined with Chinese silk and The Music Room, displaying antique Chinese instruments.

Canton Blue has an exceptional dim sum menu, but the restaurant’s signature whole Roasted Peking duck is worth going back for alone. A truely gastronomic experience, each duck is poached, dried, hung and roasted, and theatrically presented tableside in two servings: first, with pancakes and plum sauce; and second, with the meat sautéed and fried in a sweet and sour sauce. 

The jewel in the hotel’s culinary crown is its rooftop restaurant, Brooklands, by Claude Bosi, showcasing modern British cuisine from the Michelin-starred chef in a sleek space inspired by classic British aviation and motorsports. The absolute height of culinary creativity, skill and innovation, diners are taken through a journey of the house signature dishes including delights like Exmoor caviar with Roscoff onion and duck jelly and Great Fen Farm celeriac nosotto with crab and coconut. Back in February, Brooklands by Claude Bosi at The Peninsula London was awarded two Michelin Stars, a restaurant’s most sought after accolade.

In the mornings,  there’s a ‘power breakfast’ scene in The Lobby, where business people meet to close deals over egg white omelettes or exquisite pastries from the in-house patisserie, while sitting below the vast hand-painted de Gournay landscape murals. 

For those looking to relax, The Peninsula Spa & Wellness Centre offers guests a surprising haven of tranquillity, with a stylish gym, and a 25-metre heated swimming pool, with overhead light panels that change throughout the day to simulate natural daylight. It’s certainly the most beautiful hotel pool in the capital.

The hotel’s event spaces are no less superb. This year, the 2024 Diplomat Awards took place in the hotel’s grandest space, the St George Ballroom, which can accommodate up to 450 guests sitting down. A collection of configurable conference rooms, and a plush private cinema for film screenings are all equipped with state-of-the-art technology.

One of the many things that makes The Peninsula London stand out from all the rest is their impeccable team of staff with flawless attention to detail, along with services like Peninsula Time (fully flexible check-in and check-out) and PenChat (access to a 24-hour digital concierge).

Like all great luxuries in life, The Peninsula London comes at a cost. But the combination of the hotel’s location and its unrivalled offering in the capital make it ideally placed to serve London’s diplomatic community. With the suites and bedrooms perfect for visiting dignitaries, the ballroom for national day receptions, plus the various restaurants and event spaces for dinners, meetings and vin d’honneur receptions, you’d be hard pushed to find somewhere in London better equipped to cater for visiting delegations or special events.