Inside The Spruced-up Berkeley Hotel

SLIDESHOW: The newly-renovated Berkeley Hotel.

They say to judge a person, watch how they treat the waitress. To judge a luxury hotel suite, look at the hairdryer.

Now I’m not usually someone who notices hairdryers. But it was in my mind because in the days leading up to Christmas, my sister had been fantasising about the new Dyson Supersonic Hairdryer. Promising to “revolutionise your hair” and “banish bad hair days for good”, it comes with an eye-watering price tag of £299. After a few not-so-subtle hints her fiancé remained sceptical — to pay that much for a hairdryer was, in his words, “insane”. At the time, I agreed.

But shortly after Christmas I was forced to admit my error of judgement when I stayed at the newly spruced-up Berkeley Hotel in Knightsbridge.

If you went to the Berkeley pre-renovation, you might say that the 1970s entrance was nice enough, but generic. Now, exiting the taxi induces a ‘wow moment’. After a contemporary makeover by Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners, the entrance has been opened up with a dramatic glass canopy supported by a series of 9m-long carbon-fibre beams. A fireplace welcomes you into the lobby, flanked by the two ground-floor bars: the Collins Room and the Blue Bar by Robert Angell (one of the late David Collins’ design protégés, who was respectful of the original Collins design), which have been given a stunning redesign creating a feminine and a masculine identity. Then there’s the two-Michelin-starred restaurant run by Marcus Wareing, Pierre Koffmann’s French Brasserie and The Bamford Haybarn Spa and Healthclub, complete with a fabulous rooftop pool (with a retractable roof for the summer months).

As our room wasn’t yet ready we were delighted to partake in the iconic Prêt-à-Portea in the Collins Room – high tea with a fun and fashionable twist. Almost too good to eat, we marvelled at the stiletto-shaped cookies modelled on Jimmy Choo classics and the gorgeous Dolce and Gabbana-inspired blueberry mousse.

Soon we were shown into the Park Suite, our home for the next 24 hours. So called for its views over Hyde Park, the Park Suite is one of several first-floor suites that were recently re-envisioned by John Heah, an architect known for his work on the Aman Hotel Group. With a design aesthetic inspired by global travel, the suite is eclectically dotted with art and design, ranging from delicate Japanese flower sketches to bold colourful conceptual prints. It was technologically stunning while, at the same time, it felt lived-in. It functioned like a home, with a proper fridge and kettle, and you didn’t need an engineering degree to work out how to switch off the lights. And at 1,044 square foot, it was — depressingly — the size of our actual home.

After a rainforest shower in the white-and-grey marbled bathroom, I did the usual scan for the hairdryer. Opening a drawer, I was greeted with a smooth, caramel-coloured leather box. And, inside, there it was, God’s gift to women. The Dyson Supersonic. And I must admit, without the help of a hairdresser, my hair never looked so good.

This is not a story about a hairdryer, it’s a story about how the Berkeley stands for the best of everything. Whether it’s the softest bedsheets, the most tastefully designed Marimekko tea set, the deliciously fragranced Bamford geranium moisturiser, the perfectly warmed underfloor, the his-and-her Burberry trenches hanging in the wardrobe ready for us to borrow as we strolled around the park, or having the best hair day ever. The attention to detail is without par.

My sister’s birthday is next month and since my stay, unfortunately for my sister’s fiancé, the Dyson Supersonic is firmly back on the list. Along with a staycation at the inimitable Berkeley Hotel.

For more information click here.

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The Collins Room, designed by David Collins Studio

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The Collins Room, from the glass pavilion

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The rooftop swimming pool, with roof retracted

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Burberry Trenches hanging in the Park Suite, for guests to borrow

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The Park Suite’s sliding doors for more privacy.

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