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November 8, 2012

The Cafe Royal Returns

London's legendary haunt of the haut monde becomes a luxurious new hotel.

To describe the legacy of the Cafe Royal in London’s West End would mean listing the brightest stars of the last century. Virginia Woolf, Oscar Wilde, Winston Churchill. Our generation, too: Mick Jagger, Diana the Princess of Wales and Elizabeth Taylor. They all sipped their tea from the cafe’s cups.

The story, however, appeared to end with the closing of the Cafe Royal in 2008. But a new chapter is about to begin. As part of a massive Regent Street rejuvenation led by the street’s main landlords (the Crown Estate — aka the royal family), the heritage building that housed the cafe has been transformed into the Cafe Royal hotel, set to open December 4.

Part of The Set hotel collection (and Leading Hotels of the World), the 159-room property has six “historic” suites including the Dome suite with a nearly 1,000-square-foot terrace. Guests will have their own private butler, access to an indoor lap pool and the “wellbeing centre” featuring a spa with Hammam and Watsu hydro-treatments.

And because this is the Cafe Royal, there will be a restored Grill Room (Churchill’s old haunt) with a champagne bar and a gilded Louis XVI style. The Domino Room is pitched to be even “more luxurious” and will offer fine dining, while a brasserie and a patisserie will go after the more casual set.

Oscar Wilde would appreciate that the Cafe Royal’s most iconic drink will still be flowing: an absinthe fountain is meant to be the source of cocktails served to a new generation of creative intellectuals.

Let’s just hope they keep cooler heads than Oscar.

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read more: 02. Sleep | historic | 05. Eat | 06. Drink


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