Since 1969, restaurant, hotel, travel & other witty reviews by a handpicked, worldwide team of discerning professionals—and your views, too.

The Berkeley
Wilton Place
London, SW1X 7RL
800-63-SAVOY, 020-7235 6000

Decidedly Stylish

Deluxe King

Ask luxury hotel devotees about The Berkeley and chances are one of the first things they’ll rave about is the rooftop pool with its retractable roof. We agree: it’s beautiful. But we’d also like to praise the service (impeccable), restaurants (they’re among our favorites) and excellent location—it doesn’t get much better than this, tucked into residential Knightsbridge practically on the doorstep of Harrods.

The Berkeley’s refurbishment was intended to update its country house appearance. Now decidedly stylish, the overall look offers a designer take on traditional Regency style. In the individually decorated guestrooms and suites, tone varies dramatically, from sleek to flamboyant; think dizzying Deco carpets, lots of swags, bold stripes and vivid wallpapers. Not all rooms here are for the faint of design heart, but there is definitely something for every taste.

Sexy Rooftop Pool

All of the accommodations are nicely sized and well-equipped when it comes to amenities: fridges with fully stocked bars, VCRs with movie libraries, CD players with CD libraries, terry bathrobes and slippers, modem points and two direct-dial phones. Some also have plasma screen TVs. With their heated towel racks and tubs that fill up in mere seconds, the bathrooms are of note. Depending on your room choice, you may have a view over Hyde Park or St. Paul’s Church. We recommend the suites with their own private conservatories.

Adding to The Berkeley’s cachet is its dining scene, which has been revamped to make it one of the hottest in London. Top on its list of venues is Marcus Wareing’s independently run Pétrus, which moved from its original St. James’s Street location in autumn 2003. The interior was made over by designer du jour, David Collins, who drew his inspiration from the Bordeaux wine-producing château for which the restaurant was named. For a diverse sampling of Wareing’s cuisine, we recommend the daily lunch menu, which offers a choice of three dishes per course.

Pétrus: One of London's Hottest Spots

On a more casual note, Boxwood Café feels like a Zenned out version of a private New York club. Its menu, which revitalizes classic café cuisine, has been crafted under the guiding hand of UK culinary king Gordon Ramsay. The hotel is also home to the hipper than thou Blue Bar, whose striking periwinkle palette and black crocodile print leather floor can be attributed to Pétrus’s Collins. The bar offers 50 different kinds of whiskey, a Grape and Smoke menu to pair with cigars and its own soundtrack—if you like what you hear, you can buy the bar’s three-CD boxed set.

Four-Poster Suite

Of course, no London hotel is complete without offering afternoon tea. But at The Berkeley, tea comes with a very fashionable twist. Served off the lobby in the Caramel Room, Prêt-à-Portea is making news with its seasonal canapés and pastries inspired by the catwalk colors, fabrics and styles of designers such as Chloé, Dolce & Gabbana and Prada. The Caramel Room also features a special morning coffee menu accompanied by a decadent miniature doughnut menu.

Unlike many urban hotels limited by space, The Berkeley—which moved from its original turn-of-the-20th-century location in 1972—was purpose-built. It has meeting rooms and a grand ballroom, and on the rooftop along with the gorgeous swimming pool, there is also The Berkeley Health Club & Spa. Its best feature, aside from the pool: the views over Knightsbridge and Hyde Park. The facility offers a good selection of workout equipment and a full range of spa treatments, including hot stone massages and Balinese rituals such as Javanese Lulur.

From its early days as a Mecca for debutantes, to its most recent incarnation as a hideout for savvy 21st-century travelers, The Berkeley endures as a beloved London favorite.

Going to London? Check out our "The Best of London" guide.

(Updated: 05/27/11 CT)

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