London's calling: A luxury city break at the jaw-dropping Sheraton Grand
Growing up I always associated Park Lane in London with one of the most coveted spots on the Monopoly game board.
I recently got the chance to see if living there (for a weekend) made it worthy of its place in the game. It was certainly a weekend to remember.
My time at the Sheraton Grand Park Lane was one of the best stays I have had in the capital.
It recently underwent an extensive renovation, but did not lose its sense of history, retaining the original elegance and decor, which dates back to when it first opened in 1927.
The building has a fascinating history. Had the Houses of Parliament been bombed in the Second World War, the House of Commons would have been moved to its subterranean 11,000 sq ft ballroom. In the event, the room became a bomb shelter.
The Grade II listed ballroom with its stunning Silver Gallery entrance is world-famous. The Queen even learned to dance there.
More recently, it’s been used in several films including The Infiltrator, Goldeneye, The Danish Girl and Florence Foster Jenkins.
Classic Disney animation One Hundred and One Dalmatians was set in Green Park, opposite the hotel, and this is reflected in the Dalmatian statuettes in the rooms.
Buckingham Palace is on the other side of the park, so within three minutes you can find yourself at one of London’s biggest attractions.
The hotel, which has welcomed numerous socialites, celebrities and members of the aristocracy over its 90-year history, brings together the old world and new with its redesigned luxury rooms, a new restaurant and a sleek 1920s-themed bar.
It is also said to have been the first hotel in London to offer guests en-suite bathrooms, so any original marble bathrooms have been preserved and brought up to date so they are fit for the building.
Its 21 suites all have leafy views over Green Park. Many also open up into adjoining suites to accommodate large family groups.
All rooms feature stylish and modern furnishings that nod to the building’s heritage, from the polished cabinetry to decorative light fittings and carpet patterns.
With some of the comfiest beds I have ever experienced, you can be guaranteed a good night’s sleep.
The Sheraton Grand Park Lane really excels in food and drink with something for everyone and a selection you would find incredibly difficult to beat.
The Smith & Whistle Bar serves cocktails and craft beers alongside British-inspired sharing plates. Some of the cocktails are outlandish, but well worth a try.
The Martinez, for example, contains Sipsmith Gin infused with pink peppercorns, Antica Formula Carpano vermouth, Maraschino and orange bitters. The Snowman, meanwhile, is made up of Bols Genever, Cacao Blanc, Sipsmith Sloe Gin, milk and cream.
I enjoyed a magnificent afternoon tea in the famous Palm Court Lounge, which forms a centrepiece of the hotel.
It boasts a stunning stained glass ceiling in a room that has a great vibe and where you could easily spend hours with friends.
Treats on the menu include chakra silver-tipped white tea from Indonesia, smoked salmon and seaweed scones, honey-roasted ham with celeriac and mustard remoulade on beetroot bread.
Breakfast, served in the hotel’s new and authentic Italian restaurant, Mercante, was also superb.
I didn’t get the chance to grab lunch or dinner, but I’m told the hotel specialises in southern Italian dishes and that its pasta from the Amalfi coast is something else, especially served in any of the speciality sauces. Other dishes include lamb ragu, lobster bisque and pigeon risotto.
When you manage to tear yourself away from the hotel, it’s just a short walk to shops including Harrods and Fortnum & Mason.
A little further is Oxford Street, which at one-and-a-half miles long is said to be the busiest shopping street in Europe. Department stores such as Selfridges and John Lewis have gifts for men and women, while chain shops such as Topshop and River Island also have plenty to tempt you into splashing the cash.
The easiest way to get around London is by Tube and there are two stations near the hotel, Green Park and Hyde Park. They are the fastest and most convenient way to see the sights including the London Eye, Tower Bridge, the Tower of London, Westminster and Big Ben.
If you’re not a regular visitor to the city, a show in a West End theatre is a must. Top-rated productions running at the time of writing include Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Aladdin and The Lion King.
If it’s just a relaxing break indoors you’re after, the hotel has everything you need. The only problem you will have to wrestle with is how to sample all its fine food and drink in a few days.
Like me it will probably mean you will just have to return!
The Sheraton Grand Park Lane has rates starting at £230 for a classic room. For more information or to book, visit www.sheratonparklane.com.
For details on current special offers, visit www.sheratonparklane.com/monthly-offers
Belfast Telegraph Digital