London Lantern

Putting the Spotlight on London

Famous London Hotels - The Connaught

05/03/2004, By Mia Josephs

Reader Rating: 3 from 24836 votes

The Connaught, in the heart of fashionable Mayfair is one of the world’s most exclusive hotels, combining elegance and dignity with privacy, comfort and unobtrusive service. The story of The Connaught goes back to the beginning of the 19th century.

In 1803, Alexander Grillon opened a hotel in London’s Albermarle Street. Some years later, an offshoot to Grillon’s Hotel was opened in a pair of Georgian houses at 14 - 16 Charles Street, Grosvenor Square, the property of the Duke of Westminster.

Towards the end of the 1880s, the Duke decided that the time had come to have the entire area redeveloped. The street was completely altered and eventually became what is known today as Carlos Place. Demolition of the old building began in the Spring of 1894 and two years later the new Coburg Hotel, named after Prince Saxe-Coburg, Consort of Queen Victoria, opened.

The Lobby

Built in 1897 the hotel now celebrates its centenary. Today, it is regarded by many of the guests as their London residence. Whenever they visit the hotel, they look forward to sleeping in the same room they have slept in for years and to seeing the same faces and by being cosseted by the same staff.

Many of the rooms at The Connaught are occupied throughout the year by foreign royalty, members of American society, British landed gentry and the occasional distinguished actor. The main entrance to the hotel is on Carlos Place and upon entering the hotel, guests enter a traditional mahogany panelled lobby.

The Red Room

On your left is the Red Room. Recently refurbished by Nina Campbell to be in keeping with The Connaught’s Edwardian style, it combines all the traditional elegance for which the hotel is renowned, with a surprisingly dramatic flair for period colour and texture. The deep red painted lacquer effect of the walls contrasts beautifully with the real fire marble fireplace and rich fabrics – all illuminated by antique wall lights and central chandeliers

The Red Room offers a tapas selection for lunch and evening, traditional afternoon tea as well as a full bar service from the Connaught Bar. Traditional afternoon tea is served from 3pm till 5.30pm.

MENU Restaurant

Nina Campbell has also been responsible for most of the other public rooms on the ground floor. In autumn 2002, The Connaught unveiled the redecoration of two restaurants in Nina Campbell’s distinctively elegant style - The Connaugbt MENU Restaurant and The Grill Room.

On 1st October 2002, three-starred Michelin chef, Gordon Ramsay, launched at The Connaught, taking over all food and beverage of the hotel. Gordon introduced his protégée, 34 year old Angela Hartnett, as Chef/Patron. Angela, described by some as the new Elizabeth David, has gained wide experience in the UK and overseas from her time with Aubergine, Pétrus, Amaryllis and Verre in Dubai. She was rewarded for her efforts at The Connaught with a Michelin star this year.

The new Angela Hartnett’s MENU restaurant (seating 70 guests) maintains its distinctive stature, whilst benefiting from Nina Campbell’s rich, dramatic tones throughout. The GRILL restaurant, seating 40 guests and hinting at The Connaught’s past formality, offers guests a menu of Connaught’s Classic dishes in addition to the main restaurant menu.

The Connaught Hall

For those guests who require private dining, there are a number of exciting alternatives. One of the most coveted tables at The Connaught is the new ‘Chef’s Table’ which seats up to 10 guests in the heart of Angela Hartnett’s dynamic kitchen. Directly adjacent to the main kitchen, guests at the Chef’s Table’ can live the drama of service and gain a greater understanding of what goes on ‘below stairs’. Guests will be given a full tour of the kitchens and the menu will be specially selected by Angela and her team at the table.

For private parties, guests can entertain in the elegant Regency Carlos Room which seats 22 guests and the intimate Georgian Room with seating for up to 12. Slightly more informal than either of the restaurants is the warm and comfortable Connaught Bar, which serves light meals throughout the day. Once again designed by Nina Campbell, it is decorated in rich red with gold fabrics and is the perfect place for a pre lunch or dinner drink, or indeed to relax into the small hours with a large brandy.

Wherever you are in the hotel, you will find unrivalled standards of comfort, service and traditional hospitality with a formal touch. In the day rooms, which are warmed by open fires in the winter, business meetings are banned in the interests of tranquillity. The bedrooms are individually decorated in an English country style with some antiques and a variety of fine fabrics from floral chintzes to restrained damasks.

The Connaught has 92 rooms, including 24 suites and one penthouse. Even at its busiest the 140 guests can expect to be looked after by 280 staff, and often the proportion is three staff to every guest. More than eighty percent of the guests are repeat visitors.

As Mr Anthony Lee, General Manager of the hotel comments, “They come because they feel at home here and because we do not pretend to be a glamorous hotel and we do not ascribe to artificiality or current fashions. We are what we are, a down - to - earth home where guests are comfortable and at ease.”

Mia Josephs

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