The grandest dame of High Holborn, there’s nothing understated about Rosewood London, a heritage hotel that exudes contemporary opulence. The former headquarters of Pearl Assurance, the building’s Neoclassical exteriors boast seven storeys worth of voussoirs arches, Corinthian columns, and an impressive wrought-iron gate to boot, but inside, this dependably dapper rose takes a surprisingly homey turn. Communal spaces are garnished with comfy nooks and fanciful fripperies; books splayed open inside glass tables, cabinets stacked with sculptural nods to Magritte, Clockwork Orange and Animal Farm, avante-garde floristry, and a British Bulldog in a Vivienne Westwood collar. Hop from art-themed afternoon tea in the jewel-toned Mirror room and across the rose-gold gallery with it’s Versace-esque mosaic floor, straight to a fireside spot at Scarfes bar, where local judges come to hang up their wigs for an evening of jazz-infused schmoozing.
12 noon, but flexible, subject to availability. Earliest check-in, 3pm.
Double rooms from £635.00, including tax at 20 per cent.
Rates exclude breakfast which can be purchased at the hotel for £29 a person.
Look closely and you’ll find nods to the building’s past life as the seat of Pearl Assurance, not just in the hotel’s board rooms named after former chairmen, but in the materials, too. The vast spread of staircases weaving up to an elliptical dome, are made from seven different types of marble, five of which no longer exist. And if rare marble just doesn’t cut it, you’re sure to find something to admire; the hotel has an impressive 420 artworks on display throughout.
At the hotel
Fitness suite, spa, free WiFi throughout. In rooms: minibar, Nespresso coffee machine and tea-making kit, 46-inch TV, Geneva sound-system with iPod/iPhone dock, free newspaper app, bathrobes, DR Harris bath products.
Our favourite rooms
While London square footage is notoriously snug, The Manor House Wing is larger than the average house with five bedrooms, six bathrooms and its own private elevator. In fact, it’s the only suite in the world with its own postcode.
Sense Spa takes a uniquely British approach to healing, with a focus on local products and traditions from the magnesium-rich Epsom salts of Surrey to – you guessed it – the beautifying properties of the good old English rose. Set across seven atmospheric wooden treatment rooms, including two for couples, Sense offers four individual treatments that can be combined to create ‘journeys’ (the spa equivalent of a personalised playlist, if you will) and each guest receives a wellbeing consultation to advise on their chosen route beforehand. If it’s a facial you’re after, Face Place has just the ticket; their analytic approach to skincare has made this coveted clinic a favourite of A-listers and beauty experts alike, with seats in West Hollywood and New York. Turn back the clock with skin peels, collagen facials, and LED light therapy, or keep time at bay the old-fashioned way at the Fitness Suite, where two naturally lit rooms are fitted with state-of-the-art Technogym equipment. Keep an eye out for Harry Jameson, too, the in-house personal trainer who runs a three-day fitness retreat for the most stoic Rosewood residents including pre-testing, meal-planning, custom work-outs, sports-focused spa treatments and even a five-week follow-up programme.
For a bit of backstory, nab yourself a copy of John Lehmann’s Holborn: An Historical Portrait of a London Borough. A stash of paracetamol may also come in handy considering the 525 gin varieties available to try at Holborn Dining Room.
There are multiple wheelchair-accessible rooms available; each with handrails, a bathroom zimmer-frame set-up, low wardrobe rails and a red cord in-room.
Pets are very welcome. For no extra charge, pampered paws of all shapes, species and sizes will receive a bed, welcome treats, litter box, fun toys, food and water bowls – even their own embroidered pillow. See more pet-friendly hotels in London.
Welcome. There are extra beds (£75 a night), cots, babysitting (£40 an hour, minimum three hours) and children’s menus available, as well as age-appropriate activities like Rosewood Explorer treasure hunts.
The hotel aims for sustainability through small but noble gestures; glass bottles, refillable, recycled amenities, and minimal plastics. In the restaurant, waste is carefully managed; coffee grounds are fully recycled and 150kg of wine corks are sent annually to a charity for recycling. There's a bee and herb garden on site and, remarkably, the hotel has raised over £100,000 for their partners at Great Ormond Street Hospital since 2016.
In the Holborn Dining room, nab one of the red banquette seats under studded Hollywood lights. In the Mirror Room, the closer to the Champagne bar the better, we think.
Category is: ‘best of British’. Opt for tweed, tartan, or an eclectic mix of both.
Designed by Toni Chi, the Mirror Room is a jewellery box of geometric walls and ceilings where light splinters off the yellow sofas and colourful flower arrangements. Expect more formal fare here, including the à la carte breakfast and an all-day menu of seasonal salads and sharing plates. The art-themed afternoon tea is a must; depending on the season, you’ll find executive pastry chef Mark Perkins whipping up delectable Dali delights or polka-dot Yayoi Kusama cakes. Across the gallery in the Holborn Dining room, head chef Simon Young pays homage to British comfort food, most notably, the humble pie. His glistening pastry creations are made in an old-school brass Pie Room, where the scent of nostalgia wafts in with every opening of the oven. Book it out for an exclusive dining experience or else, for a private pie-making workshop, chefs’ whites included. The gargantuan scotch eggs are most definitely something to write home about, that is, if you can still hold a pen after sampling the 525 varieties of gin on offer. Outside, the summer garden of the Courtyard Terrace turns into a heated chalet come winter. Offerings change each season depending on the sponsor, which have included Patrón Tequila. Expect a cacti-studded suntrap where handmade tacos, quesadillas and creamy guacamole accompany an agave-centric cocktail list.
A Holborn institution, Scarfes bar is as popular with the locals as it is with guests. Named after the iconic cartoonist Gerald Scarfe, the bar has the feel of a private members’ club with mahogany panelling, bookshelves lined with antique hardbacks and aggressively cosy velvet sofas arranged around a roaring hearth. You’ll find plenty of his irreverent cartoons, too; cheeky panels depicting everyone from the Beatles and Stones to the Royals. There’s live music each night, and an ever-changing cocktail list that’s sure to get you on your feet. Ask for the T&T; the recipe is a closely-guarded mystery, but involves some combination of gin and tomato salt.
Breakfast is served in the Mirror room Wednesday to Sunday between 8am and 11am, and afternoon tea from noon till 5.45pm. Holborn Dining room is open daily from 7am to 9.45pm, and Scarfes bar pours Monday to Saturday from 4pm till late.
Get a midnight snack delivered straight to your door with 24-hour room service.
A stone’s throw away from Holborn station, Rosewood London occupies prime position in central London, sandwiched between the British Museum, Royal Opera House and a plethora of historic pubs.
London City is closest though flights here are limited. Alternatively, Heathrow is an hour’s drive away, and Gatwick is easily reachable by train.
Serviced by the Piccadilly line, Holborn Station is a three-minute walk from the main entrance.
There’s limited parking at the hotel for £50 a day.
Worth getting out of bed for
Conveniently located between the City and the West End, Holborn’s midtown is perfectly placed for culture with a smorgasbord of London’s top hits on your doorstep. Both the British Museum and the Royal Opera House are a 10-minute stroll from the hotel, but there’s plenty of smaller, more unusual offerings around, too. Next to the hotel, you’ll find the Sir John Soane's Museum, an eccentric private collection of the Neoclassical architect behind the Bank of England and the Dulwich Picture Gallery. One of the city’s most atmospheric institutions, Sir John’s former home is chock-full with peculiar artefacts and artworks placed just the way he left them. In fact, in 1833, Soane miraculously managed to persuade Parliament to pass a law requiring the trustees of his estate to preserve the collection exactly as it stood at the time of his death. Next, though not for the faint of heart, there’s the Hunterian Museum, a collection of anatomical curiosities amassed by 18th-century ‘mad scientist’ John Hunter which includes the nearly eight-foot skeleton of the Irish giant Charles Byrne. The Victorian Gothic Royal Courts of Justice is sure to wow those of architectural persuasions with its imposing turrets and arches, and there’s plenty for bookworms to chew on, too; with the Charles Dickens Museum and literary lanes ofBloomsbury close by – an old stomping ground for the likes of Virigina Woolf and E.M Forster. Book onto a Bohemian Bloomsbury tour, which departs from Holborn station each Tuesday, or better still, plan your own, making sure to schedule in a pit stop at Cittie of Yorke along the way;a 15th-century boozer immortalised by Welsh poet Dylan Thomas.
You’ll find two of Holborn’s best eateries within the hotel itself, but should you tire of those golden pies, there’s plenty of alternatives on your doorstep. For a spot of vintage glamour, old-school Italian joint Margot combines a crooning jazz soundtrack with fresh and flavourful dishes like green asparagus with lemon butter and parmesan, and clam linguine. If it’s perfectly executed tapas you’re after, you can’t go wrong with Barrafina Drury Lane, though be warned; queues are likely – these Spanish specialists don’t take bookings; but if you’re patient, you’ll be rewarded with crispy squid chipirones, plump Catalunyan gambas rojas and some rather inventive takes on the classic tortilla.
For the creamiest hot chocolate this side of London, head to Italian Bear Chocolate where rich cioccolata densa is slathered around your cup as you sip. For those with more bitter tastes try Catalyst, a speciality spot at the southern end of Grays Inn Road which has you covered for both early morning espressos and late-night negronis.
Leave the debauched all-nighters to the Soho crowd; Holborn is better placed for more measured evenings in one of its many historic pubs. Tucked away behind Hatton Garden’s diamond district, you’ll find (albeit with some effort – the place is touted as one of London's hardest pubs to find) Ye Olde Mitre, a 16th-century watering hole with its fair share of royal secrets, the main one involving Queen Elizabeth, her rumoured lover Sir Hatton, and a cherry tree. It’s best for beer lovers; cosy up with one of seven real ales on tap in the snug interiors. Similarly, former gin palace Princess Louise is known for its ornate interiors; frosted-glass booths and checkerboard floors set the scene for a – surprisingly reasonable – pint or two.
Every hotel featured is visited personally by members of our team, given the Smith seal of approval, and then anonymously reviewed. As soon as our reviewers have returned from this tastefully traditionalHolborn hotel and unpacked their red, white and blue souvenirs, a full account of their grand, city break will be with you. In the meantime, to whet your wanderlust, here's a quick peek inside Rosewood in London…
Insurance buildings are typically imposing places, and Rosewood London’s Holborn address is no different. The former Pearl Assurance headquarters turned super-luxe hotel feels more Downton Abbey than midtown London with its wrought-iron gates and stately home feel. Inside the Grade II-listed building, interiors by Tony Chi give big-budget grandeur with a traditional British twist. Entering through the rose-gold lobby, cabinets of curiosities, glass coffee tables, buttery to the touch leather sofas and statement artworks are set off against monochrome striped flooring. Elsewhere, Carrara marble staircases, mahogany panelling and fireside libraries conspire to make this palatial stay feel surprisingly homey. Set back enough to evade the buzz of the city, rooms are peaceful and generously sized (not least the Manor House Wing, the only hotel room in the world to afford its own postcode), though if you’re up for a bit of bustle, swinging Scarfes bar has just the ticket, with live music six nights of the week and an extensive whiskey selection to match. Indulge in elevated British comfort food at Holborn dining room, treat yourself to an art-themed afternoon tea in the kaleidoscopic Mirror Room, or channel the timeless beauty of the English rose at the hotel’s lavish Sense Spa.