London Lantern

Putting the Spotlight on London

Famous London Hotels - The Berkeley

19/04/2004, By John Small

Reader Rating: 2.9 from 16862 votes


The Berkeley Swimming Pool

When it was decided to rebuild The Berkeley from its old location in Berkeley Street it took some time to find a suitable site elsewhere. The present site was acquired with the co-operation of the Grosvenor Estate. The land on which the hotel was built has close connections with the Army. The hotel is situated on what was once the parade ground of the barracks of the First Regiment of Foot Guards, later renamed The Grenadier Guards (Hence the name of the nearest pub – The Grenadier)

The decision not to use the whole of the area was based on the fact that the hotel clientele, favoured the ‘ old ‘ Berkeley because it was primarily a small deluxe hotel. To build a totally different Berkeley, would have alienated all the hotel’s faithful guests from all over the world. It was therefore decided to limit the accommodation to less than three hundred beds and to design the hotel so that its main ground floor and interior layout gave the impression of a private house.

A Junior Suite

The distinguished English architect, Brian O’Rouke, who took the greatest care to ensure that it blended in with its surroundings, designed the hotel. The Berkeley opened on this site in February 1972. To ensure the hotel has the appearance of a private house, there is no standardisation within the accommodation. The shape, design, decoration and furnishings of each of the 214 rooms and suites are different.

On May 15th, 2003 Gordon Ramsay unveiled an exciting and vibrant new restaurant at The Berkeley in London’s Knightsbridge. In arguably his most exciting and challenging project to date, Gordon’s Boxwood Café is Gordon Ramsay’s take on an upscale New York-style café with emphasis on a more relaxed approach to dining and service.

As the recognised figurehead of fine dining, the opening of Gordon’s Boxwood Café - a 120 seater restaurant open everyday for breakfast, lunch and dinner - represents a new departure for Gordon Ramsay. What is still very much in evidence are the same exacting standards and pursuit of excellence closely associated with Gordon Ramsay. The simplest of dishes such as salads, sandwiches and ice creams will become truly memorable.

A Balcony Breakfast

With head chef Stuart Gillies (Daniel’s in New York and Le Caprice) Gordon Ramsay presents a very different menu in stylish surroundings designed by Barbara Barry, the acclaimed Californian designer. A la carte selections include starters of fried oysters with fennel and lemon, chilled melon soup with parma ham and basil oil, salads with spider crab, squid and borlotti beans, baby artichokes and Parmesan fried courgette flowers with serrano ham. Gordon’s Boxwood Café sandwiches boast a lobster roll with a Thousand Island dressing and a cold roast suckling pig open sandwich with coleslaw and rocket.

Desserts, a passion of any Gordon Ramsay menu displays sugared doughnuts cooked to order and served with yoghurt ice cream and a poppyseed knickerbocker glory. Many of the labels from the Gordon’s Boxwood Café’s extensive wine list are available by the glass.

Boxwood Cafe Bar

Gordon’s Boxwood Café is a design concept from Barbara Barry one of the most prominent US designers, whose work regularly features in Architectural Digest, and her design of Gordon’s Boxwood Café is one of her first ventures in the UK. Leaf green, bittersweet brown and silver tea paper are the hallmark colours of the space which reflects the Boxwood greenery, a classic icon of the English garden which changes with the seasons to reflect Gordon Ramsay's menus.

On 17th September 2003, Marcus Wareing opened Pétrus at its new location in The Berkeley. Since its original opening in March 1999, Pétrus has won many accolades including a Michelin star. The name of the restaurant comes from the famous Château in the Bordeaux wine region, which is renowned for producing some of the world’s finest wines. Marcus Wareing has always regarded this name as the most suitable benchmark for his cuisine and in these opulent new surroundings his cooking will find the perfect home.

“I am proud of what we have achieved at Pétrus, but no chef can afford to rest on his laurels. In these sensational new surroundings, and with a kitchen that can only be described as a cook’s dream, we are going to draw back the curtains on the next act of Pétrus.” - Marcus Wareing

Petrus Champagne Bar

The restaurant’s new setting provides the perfect stage for Marcus’ theatrical cuisine. Rich with vivid colours, the interior is the work of designer David Collins who takes full advantage of the claret textures associated with Pétrus. Stunning French blinds have a bold circle motif that is echoed as a detail throughout the restaurant. Two large abacuses replete with blown-glass beads provide an unusually comforting feature in this oasis of opulence. The private dining room, The Pomerol Room, evokes the image of a jewel box, with a crystal chandelier sitting, as it were, in black velvet.

If the décor is dramatic, it’s more than matched by the menu. Customers of the old Pétrus will of course recognise several signature dishes, but each will be presented with a new twist. Among the starters are lobster Arnold Bennett, a witty rendition of the classic dish that Marcus reworked with such success at The Savoy Grill (re-launched in May 2003). Sweetbreads, another favourite, accompanied with fresh almonds, baby red radishes and an almond and amaretto velouté.

The menu also includes: frogs’ legs sautéed with cumin and lemon confit served with white onion garlic soup and grilled focaccia, carpaccio of foie gras with girolles, diced mango and a sweet and sour vinaigrette, truffle toast. A highlight of the dessert menu will be a pineapple pannacotta, fromage fraîs mousse, diced watermelon with its own granité and fresh coconut crisps.

Marcus Wareing is assisted by Chef de Cuisine Darren Velvick, while Jean-Philippe Susilovic orchestrates the restaurant floor with Head Sommelier Alan Holmes presiding over one of the finest cellars in London. The restaurant accommodates sixty diners, and a further twelve in the private dining room. Eight guests can take the best seats in the house when booking the exciting Chef’s Table in the heart of the kitchen.

Blue Bar

The Blue Bar, opened in November 2000 was created by David Collins; this fifty-seater bar in his own inimitable style. He has also incorporated the style of top British Architect Sir Edwin Lutyens, who originally designed the wood carvings in the room, which survived from the old Berkeley when it was based in Piccadilly.

The bar is located off the lobby of the hotel, and the most outstanding feature is the striking colour of the room, which Collins has termed Lutyens Blue. Other features include a white onyx bar, chairs covered in pale lilac crosshatch leather, cream faux ostrich leather stools, and a black crocodile print leather floor inspired by Lutyens use of black in his designs. The blue cracked jesso wall covering, with red iridescent powder brushed into the cracks gives a warmth and texture to the room.

Collins’ reputation for dramatic lighting is evident in The Blue Bar. The central light fitting is an authentic Lutyens design known as ‘The Cardinals Hat’, which he created for Campion Hall near Pembroke, with broad flat glass rims to diffuse the light, and elegant suspended tassels.

‘The bar is not a period recreation of Lutyens because time moves on, and the hotel moves on. My brief was to establish a design concept that was in keeping with The Berkeley but with some contemporary vibe!’ says Collins of his latest venture. The bar offers over fifty different whiskies, a wide range of champagnes, and some classic cocktails including the specialities, Ginger Cosmopolitan, Orange and Lime Caiperoska and The Lutyens Gimlet created by Bar Manager Niall Cowan.

There is also a selected range of wine by the glass, and a specially created ‘Grape and Smoke’ menu designed to pair cigars with carefully chosen wines to enhance the connoisseur’s enjoyment of his chosen cigar. Suggested pairings include Organic Bonterra Viognier 1998 which has great richness and a long fruit finish matched with a ‘Punch Punch’, a balanced spicy choice.

The Caramel Room

The Berkeley, has recently reopened their lobby lounge area under the new name of The Caramel Room. The name reflects the design by New York designer Alexandra Champalimaud who matches subtle low-lighting with chocolate coloured wall coverings and snappy faux-crocodile fabrics, creating a sexy, discreet ambience in which to pass the day.

To match the colour palate of the room, the Berkeley is launching a whole new morning menu incorporating a whole range of coffees created with Illy Gourmet Coffee. A wide variety is on offer ranging from the traditional Cappuccino and Espresso to the signature Caramel Coffee and Café Latte with cinnamon crisp. All coffees come with a variety of toppings from marshmallow to chocolate chips to 100s and 1000s.

To accompany these speciality coffees The Caramel Room is also launching a special ‘Doughnut Menu’, which offers a selection of home made miniature doughnuts with a wide range of fillings from, Red Fruit to Valrhona chocolate, from Bitter Orange to Mango and traditional crème Patissière. The doughnuts can be dusted in original sugar or Cinnamon.

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