Hotel Café Royal

10 Air St, Soho, London W1B 4DY, UK

Opened in 1865 as a restaurant, event space, and wine store, Café Royal quickly became a gathering spot for London’s intelligentsia and glitterati. Over the following 150 years, everyone from Winston Churchill and Oscar Wilde to Muhammed Ali and David Bowie was spotted here swapping stories and hosting celebrations. Re-launched in 2012 as a hotel, Café Royal continues to serve as a vibrant hub for guests, thanks to its central location between Mayfair and Soho, a short walk from theaters, shops, and tourist attractions.

Past a stunning lobby (which recently underwent a $6.6 million re-design), the 160 rooms and suites are warm and streamlined, crafted with materials like Carrera marble, English oak, and Portland stone, and outfitted with Bang & Olufsen entertainment systems, sound proofing, rainfall showers, luxury linens, and free Wi-Fi. All rooms come with perks like complimentary John Lobb shoe shines, while the seven super-luxe Signature Suites feature things like Tudor fireplaces, deep-soaking tubs, private screening rooms, dining areas, and butler service. In keeping with the building’s gourmet history, dining and drinking options include the Laurent at Café Royal grill and sushi bar from celebrated chef Laurent Tourondel; the gilded Oscar Wilde Lounge for traditional afternoon tea service; the bright and modern Papillon for all-day dining with British-French flavors; and Green Bar for botanical-based cocktails and fine liquors. Launched in 2018 inside the Laurent restaurant, Ziggy’s bar serves expertly crafted drinks in a space that pays homage to the late David Bowie, who held a “retirement party” for his Ziggy Stardust alter-ego at the Café Royal in 1970. A spacious gym (with LifeFitness equipment, class studios, and a 60-foot lap pool) and the Akasha Spa (with sauna, hammam, and nine rooms for East-meets-West treatments) round out the facilities.

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Lattes & Cake at “The Café” at Café Royal

Walking in front of The Café will make you stop—the window fronts are filled with cakes and sweets that make you immediately want to enter for a dessert and coffee, which is what I did. You really did feel like you were royalty sitting at the marble tables and looking out on the streets of London. The latte was one of the best I had had and the cake was superb—it was just the right amount of sweetness to compliment the latte. Plus, it was fun to see how it crumbled with the special knife/fork they gave you to eat it.

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