Let’s play a guessing game. Glossy polished brown wood and sleek black marble adorning the interior. Exquisite Mediterranean food enjoyed in a casual setting. 
A sense of calm and peace throughout.

Are you thinking an uber-luxury boat sailing along the French Riviera? Kind of. Except the boat is not on the French Riviera. It’s in the heart of Knightsbridge, London, in the shape of the Bulgari Hotel. That’s how it feels to be inside the first new luxury hotel built from the ground up in London in 40 years.

Lobby at Bulgari Hotel London (photo credit: Bulgari Hotel)

Lobby at Bulgari Hotel London (photo credit: Bulgari Hotel)

So sleek and seamless is the design throughout the premises that there will be times you’ll have difficulty finding the door of the bathroom in the lobby, as it seems part of the walls. Sometimes I couldn’t figure out where the wall ends and the door begins. Not surprising when you know that the interiors were designed by Antonio Citterio and Partners, the master of Italian minimalism. This is not one of the same old traditional hotels abundant in London.

Paying homage to Bulgari’s silversmith origins, the designers used a silver theme throughout the building, including the 85 rooms and suites. The centerpiece in the bar is constructed of silver and handmade silver chandeliers are hanging from the ballroom ceilings. Custom-made silk drapery and Italian-manufactured furnishings add richness to the decor.

Suite at Bulgari Hotel London (photo credit: Bulgari Hotel)

Suite at Bulgari Hotel London (photo credit: Bulgari Hotel)

So sleek and seamless is the design throughout the premises that there will be times you’ll have difficulty finding the door of the bathroom in the lobby, as it seems part of the walls. Sometimes I couldn’t figure out where the wall ends and the door begins. Not surprising when you know that the interiors were designed by Antonio Citterio and Partners, the master of Italian minimalism. This is not one of the same old traditional hotels abundant in London.

Paying homage to Bulgari’s silversmith origins, the designers used a silver theme throughout the building, including the 85 rooms and suites. The centerpiece in the bar is constructed of silver and handmade silver chandeliers are hanging from the ballroom ceilings. Custom-made silk drapery and Italian-manufactured furnishings add richness to the decor.

“Il Bar” at Bulgari Hotel London (photo credit: Bulgari Hotel)

“Il Bar” at Bulgari Hotel London (photo credit: Bulgari Hotel)

“Il Bar” and the “Edward Sahakian Cigar Shop & Sampling Lounge” are the spaces to relax and lounge in the afternoon. But the restaurant Rivea London is the place that adds a distinctively Mediterranean feel to the hotel.

General Manager Sylvain Ercoli, a veteran hotel professional, has known Alain Ducasse for many years and this legendary chef and restaurateur created an informal place inspired by the food markets of Italy and Provence. His protégé Alexandre Nicolas is at the helm and put together sophisticated light dishes. Many of them are for sharing and are to be enjoyed in impeccably chic but relaxed setting (guests are welcome in jeans and T-shirts). The chef drew his inspiration from humble cooking. Dishes such as Socca Nicoise salad reflect Alain Ducasse’s visits to the Mediterranean region, from Nice to Liguria.

Mediterranean restaurant “Rivea” at Bulgari Hotel London (photo credit: Bulgari Hotel)

Mediterranean restaurant “Rivea” at Bulgari Hotel London (photo credit: Bulgari Hotel)

The prime location in the heart of Knightsbridge means it’s close to Harrods and other first-class luxury stores on Sloane Street as well as many restaurants and museums. Despite its proximity to Hyde Park (which is across the street), the hotel doesn’t offer good views. But what it lacks in views it makes up for in top-notch facilities, especially its state-of-the-art spa and gym. In fact, many guests stay here just for that.

First, the gym. Gold’s Gym, it’s not. “Workshop Gymnasium,” the fitness club based in Bulgari London and Milan, is small but its one-on-one approach and innovative personalized sessions made it “the best first-class futuristic fitness” in the Tatler Spa Guide. The founder Lee Mullins trains everyone from Oscar winners to Victoria Secret models and his team of trainers specializes in different areas of fitness. These trainers are also better than average looking and it turned out that some of them are ex-models (supermodel Rosie Huntington-Whiteley’s seriously handsome brother Toby is a performance specialist).

For many, the highlight of the hotel is the spa. Regarded as one of the most luxurious spas in London, if not the best, it boasts an 80-foot swimming pool lined with gold mosaic tiles. Vicenza stone and onyx adorning the interior throughout the facilities create a sumptuous environment.

80-foot swimming pool at Bulgari Hotel London (photo credit: Bulgari Hotel)

80-foot swimming pool at Bulgari Hotel London (photo credit: Bulgari Hotel)

With the innovative treatments offered, it has achieved many accolades. Its advanced technology and approach make it feel more like a Harley Street clinic than an ordinary hotel spa if it wasn’t for the luxurious setting.

Of the many treatments offered, one of the most popular is “Naturalift Acupuncture Facial” by David Peters. This award-winning Eastern medicine specialist won a large number of clients from the entertainment and fashion industries with his naturalistic approach. His anti-aging and lifting acupuncture treatment is highly sought-after as an alternative to Botox.

One of the signature Bulgari treatments is “Swiss Perfection Cellular Skin Care.” With a range of personalized treatments, Bulgari Hotel is the only spa in London to offer this anti-aging therapy which is supposed to be effective for mature skin using the key ingredient extracted from the root of the Iris Germanica.

For those who want a wholesome program of relaxation combined with the rejuvenating therapies and new fitness regime, Bulgari Hotel offers a “Wellness Retreat” package starting from £700. This customized program begins with meeting an instructor from Workshop for “framework assessment” which includes a set of extensive tests such as genetic analysis and food intolerance test in order to set specific targets for individual needs. For the duration of the retreat, the fridge in your room will be filled with healthy snacks and juices and the spa team will put together a bag with exclusive beauty products. The day begins with meditation, yoga or classwork and includes healthy meals and spa treatments, all custom-designed.

Perhaps the lack of view (which is the only flaw of the hotel I found) doesn’t matter after all when you can be pampered and recharged all day in darkly lit luxury treatment rooms.

If you think the hotel should be more than a place to lay your head for the night and you want a serious pampering, this intimate, sophisticated boutique hotel with sleek service that matches its sleek interior might be the perfect pied-a-terre during your stay in London.

Some of the spa awards it has received include:
– Conde Nast Traveler US Hot List 2013, one of the ‘Best New Hotels’ and ‘Best New Spas in The Word’

– Conde Nast Traveller Reader Awards, Best UK Hotel Spa 2013

– Tatler Spa Awards, Best British Spa 2014

– Conde Nast Traveller Reader Awards, Best UK Hotel Spa 2015

Room rates at Bulgari Hotel London start at £490

Source: forbes.com     Photos: Bulgari Hotel

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