Hotels can sometimes be lonely places; the uniform rooms, the bright lights, the anonymity of a big city. While you may have Michelin-starred food or invisible little pixies to turn down the corners of your duvet every evening (that’s how they do it right?), sometimes it doesn’t always feel like a home away from home.
However, when I arrive at The Beaumont, I’m greeted by concierge with a welcoming: “Hello, you must be Hannah Lemon.” Which is more of a greeting than I get at home for sure, unless I’m speaking to Siri. The hotel is nestled rather inconspicuously behind Bond Street tube station, so it feels like I’ve stumbled on a little secret when I arrive.
The Beaumont used to be part of the Corbin & King group of restaurants, which I’ve always had a soft spot for – ever since reading AA Gill’s witty review of The Wolseley. As a group, they were always very friendly. In fact, at the first publishing house I ever worked for, Jeremy King used to send handwritten thank-you notes whenever someone from the team wrote something nice about his restaurants. (It could well have been a secretary, but it still made an impact). However, I’ve not been in since the hotel changed ownership in 2018, so I look forward to seeing if it has the same familiar feel.
Where most of us spent lockdown stuck behind a computer or pretending to learn French on furlough, The Beaumont was busy getting a facelift. The hotel’s Art Deco interiors have had a little spruce up thanks to New York-based designer Thierry Despont and London-based architects Reardon Smith. Decked out in bright art and plush furnishings, there’s a new and improved bar, lounge and al fresco dining terrace.
Where most of us spent lockdown stuck behind a computer or pretending to learn French on furlough, The Beaumont was busy getting a facelift
[NB: Al fresco terrace is a bit of a stretch. There are a few tables outside the front of the hotel, but it’s hardly a place you are likely to while away a sunny afternoon (if we ever get any). A much better plan is to soak up the sun on Grosvenor’s Brown Hart Gardens just opposite, which has free wifi, art installations, a cafe and plenty of benches for a daytime rendezvous.]
In the foyer, I’m introduced to a charming and smiley porter called Angel, who eagerly asks to take my bags (just a single backpack). He looks a little put out when I decline, but cheerily ushers me to the lift. After a few back and forths with the new key system, which is having a rocky start as part of the new installation, my boyfriend and I are shown up to one of the Mayfair Suites.
I feel like popping my keys on the console table and shouting: "Honey, I'm home!"
As soon as I open the door, I forget about all that nonsense that I just wrote about hotel’s being lonely. This is like coming home. But so much better. A foyer opens up to a long corridor, from which there’s a bureau-like sitting room, a bedroom, and an enormous marble bathroom. I feel like popping my keys on the console table and shouting: “Honey, I’m home!”
After running around the enormous space, just because I can, I take on the obligatory hotel indulgences of a bubble bath and relaxation in white towel robes. There’s something so joyous about ablutions when they aren’t in your own home, especially when you’re using spa products courtesy of D.R. Harris & Co (a Mayfair favourite).
Reluctant to leave this small paradise of a bedroom, we eventually peel ourselves away and head down to Le Magritte. An archway frames the bar like a picture frame around an old photo of one of Ernest Hemingway’s famous drinking holes, where you can just make out the blur of a bartender shaking up some fiery concoctions. The interiors are inspired by the American bars that popped up in Paris and London during the 1920s and it simply oozes all things Great Gatsby.
A René Magritte (the artist who is famed for painting the man in the bowler hat with an apple over his face) hangs at the back, adding a quirky backdrop to late-night liaisons. We’re immediately transported back to the jazz bars of old, and the waiter, in his starched white suit, serves us two cocktails on a gleaming silver tray. I opt for a New York Sour with a soft hit of bourbon whiskey and port mixed with lemon juice and egg white.
The effect is miraculous – we're immediately transported back to the jazz bars of old, and the waiter, in his starch white suite, serves us too cocktails on a gleaming silver tray.
It glides down all too easily, so we move to our table in the next room at The Colony Grill before we start to rack up a hefty bill. I visited the restaurant before its refurbishment, and due to the nature of the space and the building, it has quite a dark and moody atmosphere. So I’m delighted to see some bright artworks in place of the old ones. The fresh touch has added a new punch of enthusiasm to the space, and there’s a steady hum of people eating dinner (something that other hotels have still not managed to resurrect after Covid).
The Art Deco vibe continues in the restaurant with private leather banquets, low lamps and geometric mirrors. While the new head chef Ben Boeynaems hasn’t had much of chance to experiment over the past year or so, he has revisited transatlantic favourites, from shellfish to grills and steaks. Surprisingly though, none of this is what strikes a chord with me the most. The real pièce de résistance? The staff.
The real pièce de résistance? The staff
First, Georgio the sommelier matches wines with our food. A Saint Bris Sauvignon for the scallops and a glass of Vigne Marina Coppi Fausto (“you’ll find notes of citrus and candy floss”… and he’s right) with the steak tartare.
Then Ed our waiter delivers the Scottish Gigha Halibut and New York Strip steak, but kindly double checks whether that’s the £39 New York Strep steak or the £165 Suffolk Wagyu we’re after. “The former”, we sadly reply.
We ravenously breeze through both and Ed is back right on time to show us the dessert menus, which arrive with a cute tick list of bespoke ice cream sundaes, as if we were in an American diner. We don’t quite have the room for a full sundae, so he encourages us to get the Bananas Foster – bananas flambéed in spiced rum and served with a dollop of ice cream.
It comes a surprise to us then, that when dessert arrives we see Ed standing at the back of the room. It turns out he’s allergic to bananas. For some reason I nearly weep at this small act of bravery; him eagerly recommending we eat bananas, while knowing the whole time that it would be a near-death experience for him.
However, any concern is immediately allayed by John, the restaurant manager, who jokes about Ed’s nemesis while flamboyantly setting it alight to great spectacle. We chat to John like we’re long lost school friends. Either everyone here is really good at acting, or they’re just genuinely lovely people.
John tells us that in the morning we’ll be greeted by Rosa. And as sure as the sun rises, we’re back in The Colony Grill dining on eggs Benedict, fresh fruit, orange juice and a never-ending supply of lattes under Rosa’s natural command. A pile of newspapers greets us on arrival and as much as we try to channel our inner Fitzgerald and do some quiet reading, we still can’t help nattering about last night.
Eventually we manage to extricate ourselves from the table and head off into the sweat of the morning commute (somewhat later than our fellow Londoners – who could possible think of turning down that extra coffee?).
As I saunter off through the puzzle of streets and bid farewell to Angel, Ed, Georgio, John and Rosa, I can feel that the spring in my step is a little lighter and my smile a little brighter. This is hospitality at its finest: talented, interesting people, doing what they do best – it’s what makes me proud to be a Londoner.