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The Lobby of The Beaumont - London Luxury Hotel

The Beaumont: A Special Brand of London Luxury

We’d been there less than an hour before I caught myself repeating the words, muttering to no one in particular:

“This place is remarkable.” 

When I made the reservations, sitting at a laptop in my parents’ kitchen in Texas, I really didn’t know anything about The Beaumont. I was just looking for a nice hotel in Mayfair. I had already reserved a hotel in Kensington for the first few days of my parents’ trip, and wanted to put us someplace closer to the action for the last two nights of their vacation, after we returned from Nice. “Looks good,” I said. “We’ll probably like it there.”

I didn’t realize I had just stumbled onto one of London’s finest gems.

The People Make the Place

Recently my wife and I, together with my parents, had the opportunity to stay at a place which might just be the definition of remarkable: The Beaumont Hotel in London. Though it was only built a few years ago, it’s designed to transport you to the roaring glory of 1920’s urban lux.

It’s a masterpiece built on a fictional conceit: what if a frustrated New York gentleman hotelier (Jimmy Beaumont, as the real hotel’s founder christened him) left for England during the prohibition era and, bankrolled by his old friends from Yale, built the ideal lodgings for himself and other expats? He would, of course, have to add an upscale grill room and an American bar in Art Deco style. I’m not the only one who has found the physical result of this flight of fancy intriguing. This 5-star hotel has been feted by Forbes, Conde Nast Traveler, and Harper’s Bazaar.

The first thing that you notice is the people. Friendly, welcoming and attentive to detail. But that’s not all. What really stands out is how they are all characters in their own right, full of spark and personality. In other words, they are people who haven’t been stiffened by corporate culture, haven’t been derailed by formality on the way to excellence. From the moment we pulled up to The Beaumont’s ideal location across from Mayfair’s quiet oasis near Oxford Street–Brown Hart Gardens–we were caught up in a flurry of hospitality.

Two receptionists not only led us to our rooms, but took the time to personally connect with us. Our guide spoke about Paris with my wife (in French), made us feel at home, and when I mentioned that we were celebrating my parents’ 39th wedding anniversary she promised a cake on the house. The cake (rich chocolate) would indeed arrive the next day, delivered with impeccable timing during our afternoon pause.

The charming Angel, short in stature and long on attention, appeared with our bags and showed us everything hidden behind the woodwork. You don’t have to worry about being charged for every little thing you pick from the mini-bar selection, he told us. Everything but the alcohol is included. We called down to order a vegetable smoothie, my wife’s favorite nourishment. It was at the door a few minutes later, delivered with a panache that you don’t usually associate with hardcore health food. I opted for an Old Fashioned in the lobby’s American Bar and took a guided tour of the spa–more on that discovery later.

We’d been there less than an hour before I caught myself repeating the words, muttering to no one in particular:

“This place is remarkable.”

Even Better Than it Looks 

If you travel, you’ve probably had this experience: the photos on the hotel’s website don’t match the reality. The photographer has done the job he or she was paid for and made the rooms look bigger, cleaner, or more well-appointed than they really are. With The Beaumont, the photos don’t do the spaces justice. They’re even better than they look on the website. Every piece of furniture seems to have been designed and built by a master craftsman. Think heavily-lacquered dark wood with drawers and compartments for everything, including a curved-top cabinet which reveals a Nespresso machine and (this is London) a deluxe tea service. My parents were upgraded to a corner suite (we didn’t ask) so well-designed that I could easily have fit the best of my wardrobe in the closet and lived happily there for the rest of my life.

The Beaumont Time Machine

Black and white photos of great 20th century writers, artists, actresses and musicians line the walls of The Colony–the hotel’s restaurant and bar–and show up in the rooms as well. The art deco murals in The Colony draw the eye and spark the imagination. It’s easy to lose track of the current century and think you might stumble into Ernest Hemingway on your way out. Behind the photos and the elegant oil paintings, and lining the spaces and corridors of The Beaumont’s public areas, is a warm wood paneling. The rooms are appointed with soothing stone shades. Faceted glass doors open to bright bathrooms covered in white marble and tile.

Though you’ll find all the outlets you need for your modern devices ready at hand in The Beaumont, what you won’t find is my least favorite room accessory–the digital alarm clock. Instead you’ll wake up to an old-fashioned traveler’s timepiece that blends perfectly with the spirit of the decor. Forget your phone when it comes to playing music, or your iPad for other entertainment. The television contains a veritable treasure trove of music and cinema. We chose the Bee Gee’s Greatest Hits and Christopher Robin. After all, when in London, take in the best of the British. I don’t feel okay if I’m not surrounded by books, but here I was all taken care of. A stack of hardcovers was already waiting for me.

The Spa–A Masterpiece of Calm

If not for the impromptu tour I was given while waiting for my party downstairs that first evening, it’s possible I would have missed the spa altogether. It’s tucked away underground, next to the exercise and treatment rooms and the bright in-house salon. We were only at the Beaumont for two nights, a sort of finale at the end of a two-week trip through London and the South of France. I’m an early riser and so spent two full mornings relaxing in the womb of that masterpiece of calm. It’s easy for a spa design to go awry. There’s usually something missing, but not at The Beaumont. Choose from the Finnish sauna and the hammam, take a deep breath after being sufficiently warmed and plunge into the perfect cold pool. Grab some crushed ice and cool your head, rinse and repeat. It’s all there, just steps from the lounge area where the upholstered lay-back chairs and soothing music beg you not to leave too soon.

This is just the kind of remarkable that gets my neurons firing, and after we returned to Paris I couldn’t get The Beaumont out of my mind.

It was hard to leave The Beaumont, but hospitality followed us out the door and back in again. Not only had they stored our extra bags for a week before we even checked in, they kept some bags for the afternoon while my wife and I assisted my parents at the airport. Angel was so attentive to our unusual itinerary that day that he even assured me that I could use the spa again and freshen up long after our checkout. I didn’t need to, but I haven’t forgotten the attentive offer. We were there less than 48 hours but the staff called us by name from the beginning. Colin, the experienced doorman and a veteran of Corbin & King’s Ivy Restaurant, didn’t only entertain us with his humor. We came to rely on him to tell us where to find everything in the area.

After we said goodbye to my parents at Heathrow, we chatted with Phil Hannah, the most remarkable cabbie I’ve ever met, about the history of the place. He mentioned the builders, their successful history as restauranteurs and the Wolseley which he particularly favors. I caught the names–Corbin, King–but without more context my understanding of how The Beaumont came to be was weak. He told us that he had worked around the hotel for years, driving its patrons, and couldn’t say enough about their attention to detail and generous hospitality.

I Wanted to Know More

This is just the kind of remarkable that gets my neurons firing, and after we returned to Paris I couldn’t get The Beaumont out of my mind. I read about the founders, Chris Corbin and Jeremy King, about the sale of the hotel to the Barclay Brothers in 2018, and even the story of the young GM, Jannes Soerensen. I don’t know if The Beaumont was different under the previous owners, but judging from their online reviews this establishment has only upped its game in recent months. The negative reviews are quite aged, and you will find personal notes from management in the reply section of each of these reviews with an offer to discuss the reviewer’s complaints further by email or phone.

Quoted in an article from Boutique Hotelier from September 2018, Soerensen “stressed that staff are ‘everything’ in a hotel and he ensures that each employee shows genuine care and personal service to every guest.”

“My priorities are what they always were: to make sure I have a happy, productive, stable team of staff and a successful hotel full of happy, satisfied guests, who become loyal advocates, keen return to the hotel time and time again,” he told Boutique Hotelier.

The reason guests come back time and time again is because they remember people and because they are remembered. People remember people, not things.

The Beaumont Brand of Luxury

There’s luxury, and then there’s The Beaumont brand of luxury. Other places have it, sure. And if you’re looking to be impressed with ridiculously high ceilings, indoor fountains and all-day cello performances, you’ll need to look elsewhere. What makes a place special for me are warm people, cozy spaces and lots of character. The Beaumont has all that in spades.

I’ve stayed at the Ritz-Carlton in Moscow, one of the finest hotels in the world. While I was there the sheikhs, foreign emissaries and security details came and went like characters in a geopolitical thriller. It was nice, don’t get me wrong. If you like to be wrapped in colorful marble and granite while you take a shower, and especially if you like watching the people described above, that kind of establishment is probably for you. But even though I stayed three times as long in Moscow’s Ritz-Carlton as I did at the Beaumont, I don’t remember any of the staff. In contrast, there are several individuals at The Beaumont I’ll remember for a long time.

The Beaumont’s General Manager makes it clear that this is intentional. “The design of the hotel and the rooms should be compelling but should not impose. The reason guests come back time and time again is because they remember people and because they are remembered. People remember people, not things,” Soerensen said in the same article from Boutique Hotelier.

And that is exactly what makes The Beaumont remarkable. We can’t wait to go back.

You can plan your stay at the Beaumont on their website.

A little extra something remarkable: read about how the Saville Row tailors brought Jimmy Beaumont to life in this article from Classic Driver.

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