London is about as synonymous with grand old five-star hotels as it is Tower Bridge, Big Ben, and messy politics, with the likes of the Dorchester, the Ritz et al lending that kind of Crown-esque air of traditional luxury a certain type of person aspires to; think Royal Enclosure at Ascot. The Bulgari is starkly different in a distinctly Italian way.
Despite being a modern temple to luxury, the Bulgari is a lot more restrained than you might expect from a red carpet jewellery marque. Black floors and columns, dark leather, and a more stylish approach to architecture give Antonio Citterio’s interiors a visual impact that’s more Milan than London. There are flashes of silver, tying into Bulgari’s heritage, but as accents not focal points.
The suites however are far less pared-back. I stayed in Bulgari Suite 3, an immense conglomeration of walnut panelling, sumptuous textiles, and somewhere in the region of 200 square metres of space. It felt more like a fully-fledged apartment rather than a hotel suite. Honestly, with a more than spacious bedroom, vast living room, and a nicely equipped kitchen with a separate wine fridge, I could see myself living here a little too easily. That’s without mentioning the views of Hyde Park from across the hotel.
That said, I didn’t allow myself to get too comfortable with the suite’s butler. Oh, I could; he arranged a shoeshine before the black-tie dinner I was in town for and a pair of swim shorts when I realised I’d drastically under-packed. It’s just that my partner won’t let me.
It’s not just the suites that are oversized for London. The spa covers 2,000 square metres of floor space, split between treatment rooms, the pool, and various other wellness-centric facilities. The treatment menu’s almost daunting in its cutting-edge treatments – so much so that I opted for a personalised full-body massage as a default. Maybe it was the late night previously, but afterwards all I could do was blissfully bob about in the pool.
As I was heading out for dinner, I opted to sample the hotel’s culinary offerings through afternoon tea in the Bulgari Lounge. It’s one of the coolest spaces in the building, designed by Antonio Citterio Patricia Viel architects, an incredibly glamourous Italian-style living room. It’s also home to a residency from Gianluca Fusto, pastry chef, and chocolatier extraordinaire. Needless to say, the sweets were the highlight.
I didn’t get nearly long enough at the hotel – nor was I in enough to make the most of the absolutely fantastic Bulgari Suite 3 – but that’s not the worst thing in the world. All it means is that I owe it to myself to go back and try out everything else, particularly the fine dining options. Just in time for their spring menu perhaps? With that kind of lead time, they should be able to reserve my new regular suite.
Bulgari Suite; £11,478 per night, book at Bulgari Hotels.