Doormen in bowler hats sweep you into a lobby that’s all marble chequered floor, Corinthian pillars and Edwardian wrought-iron balustrades befitting the “Palace of Business” the building was originally conceived to be. The new annexe, on the other hand, was converted from a Seventies office block. While the former has all the character in its bones, the latter appears to have been allocated the entire interior design budget.
The new rooms have white marble bathrooms and panelled walls in Farrow & Ball shades, but our room in the old hotel is beige as a boardroom (which it probably was, originally). It has curtains in striped toothpaste shades and an intriguing view across a multi-story car park. It is, however, vast and supremely comfortable.
Besides, we are really here to test the hotel’s new cookery school. Opening next month, it will host classes for all ages and abilities, including “parent and child” sessions.
A huge amount of love and money has been sunk into equipping the bright, 2,500 sq ft space with copper light fittings and cool plywood cabinets. Four long, marble-topped islands house 16 workstations, each equipped with induction hob, oven and professional equipment. It looks like the set of Junior MasterChef.