silvia
Silvia Pisci
The Berkeley
Wilton Place, Knightsbridge, London SW1X 7RL, United Kingdom
25th September 2015

Timeless English style with a modern twist

Location
In the heart of Knightsbridge area and bordering Hyde Park, The Berkeley's location is central, yet quiet.
Who stays?
Thanks to its classic-yet-cosy atmosphere, its well-known restaurants and some pretty unique features (the rooftop pool being the first of them), The Berkeley attracts a very mixed clientele, including families, immaculately dressed English ladies meeting for afternoon tea, as well as young international professionals and couples enjoyng the hotel's classic and intimate atmosphere.
Style and Character
While retaining the charm of the "old classics", The Berkeley welcomes guests in a relaxed and warm atmosphere, freshened-up by classy contemporary touches (the spa & pool, the floral decorations by couture flower emporium McQueens, the Blue Bar...). It's the quintessential classic boutique hotel.
Service
Impeccable. The staff-per-guest ratio is about 2:1, so you always feel very well taken care of all the time (should I say a little too much? I was served by 3 people at the same time during breakfast... but I must say that every little request was satisfied, so no complains!). The golden-key concierge can be challenged with any requests, and the room service is great (always timely, precise and discreet).
Rooms and Suites
Facing either St. Paul's Church or Hyde Park, all rooms offer quiet surroundings and beautiful natural light from the large windows. Upgrades to upper floors with gorgeous views to the city and rooms with balconies/terraces are absolutely worth the splurge, especially during the warmer months (breakfast on the terrace on a sunny Saturday morning - like we had at our Terrace Studio Suite - is such a wonderful treat!). The style is chic and classic (nothing opulent or "old style") brightened up by light furniture and Italian marble in the bathrooms. The second floor has a completely different feel - black walls in the corridors open to bright contemporary rooms. The 300sqm stunning Opus Suite features original artworks, an equipped kitchen, gorgeous 270-degree views on Hyde Park and much more... all yours from GBP14,000 per night...
Food and Drink
It's true, The Berkeley is a breakfast destination in itself. If you're a breakfast person (as much as I am), the hotel's morning buffet and à-la-carte menu will make your day (trust the staff's suggestions for the specials of the day, and don't leave without trying some English classics!). Marcus is the famous 2 Michelin star restaurant of the Berkeley, headed by Marcus Wareing and offering British-influenced creative dishes. A more informal, yet still refined, atmosphere welcomes you at Kauffmann's, with its display kitchen always busy preparing brasserie food, with some delicious fish dishes (squid spaghetti, crab salad and lobster ravioli, just to name a few!). Tip: if you go for lunch, ask for a table on the higher floor (close to the entrance, where there's more light)!
The Blue Bar is to be tried once at least - when we did, late after dinner, the clientèle was very mixed (but I was surprised to see how crowded it was - even during the week!). Great signature cocktails, and a list of Champagne including prestige and rare vintages by the bottle.
Features, Wellness, and Amenities
The rooftop pool is certainly one of the best things to be enjoyed at the Berkeley, and a deal-breaker in the summer (although it gets easily crowded during the weekend). The access to the pool is through the beautiful Spa & Health Centre (Danish design - light wood, chic and welcoming) and a lovely green relaxation area, both small in size and contributing to the "boutique feeling" of the hotel (which is, in fact, much bigger than it feels!).
Something else to be loved are the floral decorations - unique creations by couture flower emporium McQueens, bringing a fresh, stylish touch to the common areas.
Perceived Value
It's not cheap hotel, but you won't be disappointed if you enjoy it at its best (meaning: try the food, plunge into the pool and get a room with view)!
Verdict
The Berkeley is doing a great job at keeping its name high on the list of the best hotels in London (where new competitors are constantly popping up) - a significant challenge for a historic hotel is to be able to adapt to the modern traveller's needs without compromising on its classic English charm - and at this, the Berkeley succeeds.