Overlooking the green oasis of Hyde Park, London’s largest royal park and residing in glamorous Knightsbridge, The Wellesley claims the title of the capital’s first boutique-grand hotel, offering guests sophisticated luxury and grandeur. As this bijoux hotel only has 36 guest rooms and suites, it also offers an outstanding level of discreet and uncompromising service.
Housed in a 1920s townhouse, beautifully restored with a modern take on Art Deco style, the hotel is named for Arthur Wellesley, the first Duke of Wellington and hero of Waterloo whose home, Apsley House, otherwise known as No 1 London, faces the property. Given its size, the hotel offers an exceptional food and drink offering with a main signature Italian restaurant, the Oval Restaurant, the Jazz Lounge with weekly jazz nights, the heated al fresco Cigar Lounge & Terrace for Montecristo aficionados and the Crystal Bar bringing the decadence of the Jazz Age vividly to life in the heart of one of London’s smartest neighbourhoods.
The Wellesley Knightsbridge is part of the Luxury Hotel Collection.
Located in the upscale neighbourhood of Belgravia, The Wellesley enjoys an enviable location with the luxury department stores of Harvey Nichols and Harrods in one direction and the Royal Academy, Piccadilly Circus and the royals’ favourite grocer, Fortnum & Masons, in the other. Mayfair and the shopping areas of New Bond Street, Oxford Street and Regent Street are also relatively close by.
Across from the hotel, guests may enjoy the vast greenery of Hyde Park on foot, by bike or on horseback or walk over to the smaller St James’s Park, another royal park, close by, which leads onto The Mall and Buckingham Palace. Literally on Hyde Park Corner, there is Apsley House, a museum dedicated to the Duke of Wellington and a fascinating house to visit. Other London experiences found on the hotel’s doorstep include the Wellington Arch for views out over London, the Natural History Museum (where there is an ice-skating in winter) and the Royal Albert Hall.
Hyde Park Corner’s Underground Station is just a minutes’ stroll away and from there, the Piccadilly or blue line goes directly to Heathrow Airport, which takes around 45 minutes. The tube will also open out the further reaches of the capital, making everywhere reachable. Victoria Train Station is a short taxi ride away or equally accessible via tube to connect with the high-speed Gatwick Express train which takes around half an hour travel time.
London Heathrow Airport is around 21 kilometres from the hotel, with transfer times ranging from 45 minutes to an hour dependent on traffic. London Gatwick Airport is a little further away at 43.5 kilometres with travel times around an hour to an hour and a half by car but easily accessed by direct train from nearby Victoria Station.
London City Airport is 18 kilometres east of the hotel and is around 30 minuites to an hour away by car.
Valet parking is available whilst the hotel offers complimentary luxury transportation for drop offs within a 2.4-kilometre radius of the hotel, available on a first-come, first-served basis.
This little gem of a hotel features just 36 rooms ranged over six floors splitting down into 17 lavishly appointed Deluxe and Executive rooms and 19 suites including the appropriately named Wellesley Penthouse. Each has been inspired by prominent figures from the Jazz Age like Ella Fitzgerald, Josephine Baker and Louis Armstrong and are beautifully finished with contemporary touches and elegant artwork which pays homage to the property’s Art Deco past.
Guest rooms are sumptuously decorated with layer upon layer of textures in creams and golds including leather studded headboards, thick drapes opened at the touch of a button, soft carpets, custom furnishings, large framed vintage black and white photos and a bathroom finished in Cararra Arabescato Corchia marble with a walk-in shower, bidet and exclusive Hermès Eau d’Orange toiletries. With integrated room panels and butler service, guests here enjoy 40-inch LED televisions, premium film channels and a kitchen with a mini-refrigerator, silverware, dishes, glasses and complimentary bottled water.
Moving on up the room categories, the suites enjoy exquisite marble bathrooms with slipper bathtubs, double vanities and in-wall televisions for the luxury of in-tub viewing. Some offer French doors out onto a balcony with sliding doors dividing the living and sleeping areas and comfortable, plump sofas, armchairs and a working desk.
The crème de la crème accommodation is of course The Wellesley Penthouse which stretches out over the sixth and seventh floors of the hotel and which can be enjoyed as a one-, two- and four-bedroom apartment. With stunning views over Hyde Park, The Churchill Suite, part of the Wellesley Penthouse, features its own winding staircase leading out onto a private terrace with rooftop views over Belgravia. Churchill novels populate the suite’s reading area whilst the spacious lounge is perfect for large gatherings and private dinners for up to eight guests. It also features a private Humidor and Decanter Bar.
Mobility accessible rooms are available on request.
Size dictates that there is no gym or spa but individual PT sessions with a personal trainer can be organised and there is also a biking trail, horseback riding and a jogging/fitness nearby in Hyde Park.
Children are welcome and there are mini robes, slippers, special bathroom amenities, teddies, colouring books and crayons on offer for little ones, though this sophisticated setting probably suits older children better.
It is only the three arches and a vintage ox-blood tiled façade by Lesley Green that give a clue as to The Wellesley Knightsbridge’s previous life as part of London’s Underground, housing one of the entrances to Hyde Park Corner tube station – a style instantly recognisable to any Londoner. It closed back in 1937 but the façade was retained, the building later housing Pizza on the Park, a legendary jazz haunt, the hotel continuing this musical tradition with live jazz nights when it opened in 2012.
Walking inside the property, guests are met with rows upon rows of corniced arches, glittering chandeliers, and marble floors in what would have been the ticket hall of the former station. Repetition and mirrored surfaces are clever arrows in any design armoury and this seemingly endless corridor smacks of style and class. Impeccably restored and enhanced by Fox Linton Associates with a modern Art Deco style, the hotel later commissioned a signature metal screen, designed by artist Lee Simmons – a star of London’s design scene – to complement the façade and to create the Cigar Terraces.
For those who love Art Deco and its decadent style and who prefer to stay in smaller, more intimate properties without foregoing the luxuries, this impeccable baby-grand hotel is the perfect choice for a London stay.
The intimate Oval Restaurant is The Wellesley's upscale restaurant, a cream, golden chandeliered and mirrored space offset by the palest of pink chairs and banquettes – a true Art Deco colour palette. Offering a sophisticated dining experience with formal attire required, The Oval Restaurant’s Head Chef Sebastiano Cioffi creates refined authentic Italian dishes using fresh, seasonal ingredients such as Roasted Loin of Lamb, Red Cabbage, Cassava Shallots and Sour Cherry Jus.
A love of jazz is embedded into The Wellesley's culture, a nod to its former life as a jazz venue, and live music is ever present in the Jazz Lounge, which is a favourite with guests and locals alike. The hotel celebrates its historic musical roots by hosting weekly jazz nights, Live at The Wellesley, where guests can also enjoy gourmet Italian cuisine as the music plays. It also plays host from 14.00 hours onwards for that most British of institutions, The Wellesley Afternoon Tea complete with finger sandwiches, savouries and scones, a glass of Champagne on the side.
The exclusive Crystal Bar is all out Art Deco glamour bringing the 1920s vividly to life again. The walls are adorned with unique glass cases housing The Wellesley’s impressive selections of whisky, cognac, and Armagnac collections, including several extremely rare bottles from 1770, the perfect place to also enjoy a glass of champagne, a light bite, or a cheeky cocktail. Tables are offered on a first come, first served basis: no reservations allowed.
The Cigar Lounge & Terrace is an unexpected delight for cigar smokers. The moody, sophisticated lounge features leather studded armchairs more akin to a gentleman’s club with large portraits of cigar heroes if unlikely comrades such as Winston Churchill and Fidel Castro. The space houses a bespoke humidor, said to be the largest in Europe, with a connoisseur’s selection of only the finest cigars – Montecristo, Cohiba, Davidoff or perhaps a limited-edition Bolivar.
The heated terrace outside the hotel has been created by a specially commissioned screen, constructed out of 15,000 individual cast metal buds suggestive of flowers. It is subtly lit, letting in small pockets of light while also revealing glimpses of the hotel’s celebrated original façade. Cantilevered panels protect patrons from the elements. A stylish way to blend the old with the new.
Embracing the hotel industry’s switch to caring for the environment, The Wellesley has also adopted eco-friendly cleaning options, with EPA-approved electrostatic sprayers like the one used on planes to safely disinfect rooms and other large areas, as well as UV light technology to clean keys and other items.