Some extraordinary experiences are quite unexpected. Spring is in the air and everybody smiles. The sun shines over the landmarks of London and I stroll casually past the queen's beautiful Buckingham Palace to my own. There's no other work for the style, comfort, elegance, service and opulence of 51 Buckingham Palace. This IS the best!
As a travel writer you find lots of folks putting on airs and graces, it's great when you encounter the real thing. In this case I was lucky enough to be invited to enjoy one of the hotel's special packages, "Show Time". This included champagne reception, my own suite, dinner at W'Sens, Far Pavilions theater ticket and a Pure Radiance Facial massage at the Sodashi spa.
51 is next to the Buckingham Gate hotel another property in the Taj group. It is across the Shakespearean Courtyard, itself is a nice place to relax and enjoy the sunshine with its fountain and Shakespearean ornate brickwork. This frieze depicts scenes from "Much Ado about nothing", "As you like it", "Love's labours lost" and " "A midsummer night's dream". (See the images at the end of this article.)
51 Buckingham Gate's suites are large, by any standard most anywhere in the world. My 5 room suite comprised a lounge, bedroom, bathroom, dining room, and kitchen. The bathroom, alone was larger than most London hotel rooms, including their en-suite facilities. These suites are tastefully well appointed. Decorations and facilities are second to none. The staff at the hotel are courteous, friendly and, above all, well trained. The range of suites is wide reaching so far as the "prime minister's suite" (4 bedrooms, 2 studies, 3 sitting rooms, plus reception overlooking the Shakespearean courtyard, and emergency generator) which tends to be occupied by dignitaries and heads of state from all over the world.
The services are comprehensive:
The Spa at 51 Buckingham Gate has super facilities. It utilises the Australian Sodashi chemical free brand of select spa products. "Sodashi" is Sanskrit for wholeness, purity and radiance". As we all know, most of the products we use around our bodies and houses are contain harmful ingredients that can damage our skin and inhibit our immune systems. Personally, I've been studiously detoxifying my home over the past few months and feeling far better for it. So this first 100% chemical-free hotel spa in the UK is highly welcome initiative.
Eating facilities are also impressive, giving a great selection without having to venture very far. There is of course 24-hour in-room dining services and your own kitchen. Breakfast is served in the Library Bar and Lounge, exclusive to 51 Buckingham Gate guests.
For your evening entertainment, there's the Zander Bar, sporting Europe's longest (36 metre) watering hole. With a list of over 90 cocktails, you're sure to be able to get relaxed in the extreme. This ultra-modern environment was voted Bar of the Year in 2001.
Such a hotel inevitably attracts the rich and famous. At the time of my visit "Death of a Salesman" was about to open in London, so I found myself breakfasting with Howard Witt (a really friendly guy) and lucky enough to exchange courtesies with Brian Dennehy, the star of the show. Brian Dennehy in the flesh looks exactly like the guy we see on the silver screen. Now that's unusual. Other famous guests have included Cliff Richard, Joan Rivers, Piers Brosnan and various heads of state.
The hotel has a number of special packages. These include "Chic Girls Getaway" for spa and shopping with friends; "Honey of a Honeymoon" incorporating dinner, champagne, spa, initialed chocolates and bathrobes, chauffeur and butler services; and special theater packages.
General Manager Bernard de Villele and Hotel Manager Liam Ryan have put together a stunning array of services and atmosphere that has been recognised as the best in Britain as well as gaining accolades from the Hotel Design and Development Award, American Academy of Hospitality Sciences, Considerate Hotel of the Year 2004 (for eco-excellence), Most Excellent London Hotel 2005 Award from Condé Nast Johansens.
51 Buckingham Gate - sheer opulence.