At least 13 high-end hotels are scheduled to open by 2025, many from world-renowned operators that have never before had sites in the capital, while others are getting huge refurbishments.
The starting gun is fired on Tuesday when the £1.1 billion Peninsula London near Hyde Park Corner is officially launched at precisely 8.08am — a time chosen as auspicious by a feng shui master — with the first guests checking into rooms priced from £1,300 a night shortly after. It will be the first newly-built five star hotel opening in London since the Bulgari in Knightsbridge in 2012.
The Peninsula is followed at the end of the month by the £1.5 billion Raffles London at The OWO, the vast old War Office building in Whitehall, after an eight-year development funded by the billionaire Hinduja brothers. A night in rooms once used by former secretaries of states for war including Sir Winston Churchill, John Profumo and David Lloyd George, costs from £1,200.
Although London does not have a category above five star, the opulent facilities and levels of staffing — in some cases three to every guest — put some of the new hotels on the same tier as the self-proclaimed seven star resort hotels of destinations such as Dubai.
The openings — London debuts for two of the most respected hoteliers in the world — will be followed by a succession of launches in the coming months as projects that were delayed by Covid finally come to fruition. Commentators said the extraordinary multi-billion-pound investment programme reflects the enduring popularity of London among the world’s most wealthy travellers, particularly from America, the Middle East and Asia, with travellers from China starting to return in significant numbers for the first time since the pandemic.
Other highly-anticipated openings include Six Senses at Whiteleys in Queensway, due to launch next summer, the Chancery Rosewood at the former US Embassy in Grosvenor Square scheduled for a 2025 start, and the Waldorf Astoria Admiralty Arch at the entrance to Trafalgar Square, which also has 2025 pencilled in.
One startling feature of many of the new openings is nightly room rates that start at more than £1,000. Cristina Balekjian, director of hospitality analytics, UK, at CoStar Group, said: “This is unprecedented. We have never seen this in London before. But that is the way with luxury hotels, they always surprise on the upside. Ten years ago hotels in this category were achieving £500, now it is £1,000. But operators are very optimistic about the luxury sector and so there is potential for all these extra rooms to be absorbed.”
Not all the new arrivals are grande dame-style super hotels. Later this month also sees the launch of boutique hotel One Sloane in Chelsea, the sister of Hotel Costes — described as the “hottest hotel in Paris” — where celebrity guests have included Bella Hadid, Beyoncé and Leonardo DiCaprio.
Several of the openings are in Mayfair including the 50-room Mandarin Oriental Mayfair in Hanover Square, scheduled towards the end of the year.
But some new areas are also getting the five star treatment, including Bayswater with Six Senses, and Nine Elms, where the Park Hyatt River Thames will open early next year.
Many, including The Peninsula, The OWO and the Park Hyatt London River Thames come with residences that give owners full access to the hotel facilities.
One at The OWO has been snapped by former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg. Raffles London at The OWO will have three bars and nine restaurants including a first London outpost of Paris landmark Café Lapérouse.
The Dorchester has also spent “hundreds of millions of pounds” on its first major overhaul since the Eighties, allowing it to lift its entry level room rate to £1,400, while the London Hilton on Park Lane is taking the wraps off its refurbishment on Wednesday.
Dorchester general manager Luca Virgilio said: ”We will all be competing for business of course, but we are all selling London first and foremost and that means attracting more people here as a destination.”
Ross Pakes director of product and commercial at luxury tour operators Abercrombie & Kent, said London remained hugely popular with wealthy travellers, a status that had been boosted by global coverage of the trio of royal events - Queen Elizabeth’s Platinum Jubilee, her funeral and the Coronation of King Charles - all within little more than a year.
He said: “London simply remains one of the world’s most iconic destinations, there is so much history, so much always going on and so much to see. London continues to deliver time and time again."