It says a lot about the values of Claridge’s that the hotel once refused Audrey Hepburn entry because she was wearing trousers (strictly not allowed for women at that time). Instead, one of the world’s greatest actresses was asked, politely, if she would enter through the back door. Though this outdated tradition no longer stands, there is much about the historic Mayfair hotel that remains timeless. Many of the clocks, for instance, have been silenced, so as not to remind guests of their busy lives outside. The downstairs Art Deco lobby looks as elegant as the day it was built in 1931, thanks to a renovation at the turn of this century. And the staff, who got their moment in the spotlight when the BBC aired its Inside Claridge’s documentary in 2013, continue to busy themselves, discreetly meeting the wants and whims of every guest. Upstairs, the story is slightly different, with the hallways and corridors starting to show their age. But the hotel’s willingness to work with a trove of contemporary designers—Diane von Furstenberg, India Mahdavi, and David Linley among them—has ensured the rooms, and the hotel, have not been left to languish entirely in the past.
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In the heart of central London, the upscale Mayfair neighborhood borders the smart shops of Marylebone in the north, the lively bars of Soho in the east, and two leafy parks—Green and Hyde—on its southern and western fringes. Hidden within the enclave’s quiet, cobbled streets, you’ll find refined restaurants such as Scott’s and private members’ clubs such as George. Nearby boutiques from Oscar de la Renta, Vivienne Westwood, and Carolina Herrera stand as testament to the area’s pedigree.
Need to Know
Rooms: 197 rooms, including 65 suites and two penthouses. From $825. Check-in: 3 p.m.; check-out: noon. Dining options: Fera is the newest addition to the hotel, opened in early 2014. This is the first permanent restaurant in London for two-Michelin-starred chef Simon Rogan, who made his name at L’Enclume in the English Lake District. The refined Foyer & Reading Room is the place for all-day dining and afternoon tea. The Fumoir, with its Lalique glass, velvet couches, and 1930s-inspired design, is the place for a decadent drink. Claridge’s Bar is its lighter and brighter sister. Spa and gym details: There’s a dry health club and spa—meaning no pool, sauna, or steam room—plus a 24-hour gym.
Who's it for: Those who like to return, time and time again, and see nothing changed. Our favorite rooms: Travelers with less conventional tastes will like the Grand Piano Suite. Designed by Diane von Furstenberg, it features the Belgian-born fashion designer's signature bold prints, plus butler service. Expansive service: Upgrade to a suite to get use of a Burberry coat during your stay. Women in these rooms also get a My Burberry bottle of perfume engraved with their initials to take home.