Bulgari invited us to spend the weekend at their recently-opened 85 room hotel and spa in London's suitably posh Kensington neighborhood, right next door to Cutler & Gross and across the road from Harrod's. True to the brand's luxurious, Italian DNA you are coddled from the moment you arrive. Designed by the powerhouse husband and wife architects Antonio Citterio and Patricia Viel on what feels like an unlimited budget, the mid-size hotel delivers jaw-dropping moments like the ballroom's twin chandeliers made of ten silver arms and hundreds of LED lights, and a serene 25-meter swimming pool with its adjacent gold mosaic thermal pool which goes to the edge of over-the-top without falling out the other side and walking into some rogue dictator's tacky palace. It's moments like this where Citterio and Viel excel and earn their superstar status.
Metal plays a deep role in the hotel's design—not surprising from a brand known for its unique jewelry and the Bulgari family's silversmith ancestors. From the polished steel bannisters to lighting and fittings in the opulent rooms, the reflective look of silver makes its way into most every part of the property. Offsetting the metallic shine are materials like granite, oak and onyx that balance the bling and temper its bravado.
It's the rooms that shine, though, with bathrooms that surround you with marble, wood and showers for two, enough closet space for even the highest-maintenance rock star or princess, TVs complete with a black bag stocked with every type of cable so you can connect your laptop and enjoy your content on the big screen, and beds in which you'll easily sleep off your jet lag. My large corner room lacked a usable workspace, however, and despite several visits from the hotel staff, I was unable to connect to the room's WiFi (though it worked seamlessly in the hotel's public spaces). Rooms are well insulated from noise, both from neighbors and the bustle of Knightsbridge outside. For those with longer stays and an unlimited expense account the suites offer one-bedroom, apartment-like living that can connect with adjoining rooms to add a second bedroom. Private residences with astronomical price tags take up the top few floors of the new-construction building (rumored to have cost several hundred million dollars to complete).
The spa, crowned by the pool, also features steam and sauna rooms and an extensive program of massage and beauty treatments. Il Bar, a lobby-level bar with table service and spot-on cocktails, provides a just-right mix of business and pleasure where you can have a conversation without shouting. Il Ristorante, down a grand staircase, serves Italian food in a luxurious setting with prices to match. One of the hotel's gems is the beautiful screening room and lounge, complete with a well-stocked bar, candy and popcorn.
For the business traveler without a budget, the well-to-do or the more casual traveler looking for a special occasion indulgence, you'll find yourself being surprised and delighted by the hotel's sophisticated charm, luxury, service and surprisingly low-key vibe. Rooms at the Bulgari Hotel London start around £500.
See more images of the hotel in our slideshow.
Images courtesy of Bulgari