First-time visitors to London probably have both Buckingham Palace (home of Queen Elizabeth II) and the Tower of London (which she owns) on their visit-list. The closest hotels to The Tower of London are CitizenM and Four Seasons Hotel London at Ten Trinity Square. Both are about 300 yards away from where medieval royalty, sometimes imprisoned, used to stay. CitizenM is two minutes’ walk, and Four Seasons Hotel London at Ten Trinity Square is five minutes’ walk from Tower Hill tube (subway) station, which makes them most agreeable for many reasons.
First, The Tower of London. It traces its roots to The White Tower, built by William the Conqueror in 1076, ten years after he arrived in England. It has seen so much life since. Those imprisoned there, over the years, included Queen Elizabeth I and Sir Walter Raleigh. Today, it houses the 140 Crown Jewels, which attract just under three million visitors a year. It is a UNESCO World Heritage site. You can skip the £25 (US$27) admission fee if you have a London Pass; best time to start standing in line for entrance is at the opening time, 9 a.m. Tuesday to Saturday, 10 a.m. Sunday and Monday – later in the day, the lines can be horrendous.
Interestingly, Four Seasons Hotel London at Ten Trinity Square is within the legal bounds of the Tower. And every three years, which happens to be in 2020 next, Beefeaters, as representatives of the Tower, ceremoniously inspect it. There is a plaque in the hotel stating that this is #10 of 22 'arrow's flight' around the Tower.
The Four Seasons Hotel London at Ten Trinity Square building has been full of ceremony since it was opened in 1912 as the be-columned headquarters of the Port of London Authority – it was designed by Sir Edwin Cooper in classical style. Today, it is owned by the Bangkok-based Reignwood Group, whose Chairman Dr. Chanchai Ruayrungruan owns Red Bull throughout China. The hotel designer is Bruno Moinard, the Parisian who has a brilliant way with classic buildings.
There are 100 bedrooms, which include nine heritage suites, some of which have flooring on two levels. Personally, I really like the 1,750-square-foot Presidential Suite, #302, which has 1.5 bathrooms, Lorenzo Villoresi toiletries, and, so stylish, the Parlux 3200 hairdryer sits in a fabric bag in a suede box. Other luxury pointers? The Nespresso machine has hotel-logo paper cups as well as Royal Doulton mugs, and notepads by telephones are gold-printed. There are also, by the way, 34 letting Residences, with up to four bedrooms. These are ideal for families or other small groups, or for entertaining; minimum stay is one night, and room service and full hotel privileges are included.
Some may want to get their exercise walking the Tower, and/or heading to Bond Street or Mount Street for superior retail. Others will appreciate the hotel’s excellent in-house wellness, which includes four Body Slimmer machines and an indoor pool.
Full traditional English afternoon tea, with scones and cream, is served in the 1912 Rotunda. There is a Private Members’ Club, now run by the hotel. The Club has food by Anne-Sophie Pic, but you can get that in the main hotel, at the Michelin two-starred La Dame de Pic. Cleverly, the restaurant shares a reception desk with the alternative dining venue, Mei Ume, a Chinese-Japanese mélange designed by AB Concepts. It is really delightful, and not surprisingly fills up with local gourmets; the menu features mainly Japanese starters and Chinese main courses, with such signatures as Peking duck and Australian lobster tail with ginger and spring onion. I had seven-kind moriawase, assorted sashimi, followed by roasted black cod marinated in yuzu soy with karashim mustard of Brassica juncea, served on your own grill. I was with Belgian GM/RVP Vincent Hoogewijs, and we followed Quincy Sauvignon Blanc 2018 Loire with a 2015 Gévrey-Chambertin Vallet Frères.
Breakfast is served in the Rotunda, but I had an early start, so I checked out the leather-covered room service menu. I passed on a hotel special, Trinity sugar-free chia bircher mueseli with soy milk, choice of added banana or mixed berries. My plain yogurt and omelet came on gold-patterned Rosenthal, and the whole wheat toast had both salted and unsalted Netherend Farm butters from Gloucestershire in the heart of England, and a selection of English (Tiptree) and French (Alain Milliat) preserves. I had plenty of excellent coffee in an Alfi stainless pot.
This place has lots of style, I thought as I headed over to Tower Hill station, the quickest way to get to Heathrow, via Paddington and Heathrow Express.