We love visiting London, there is always so much happening within the luxury hotel scene in the capital and the latest property to have launched in the city is the Great Scotland Yard Hotel in Westminster. Once the home to law and order in Westminster it is now a contemporary new hotel, destination restaurant, Afternoon Tea spot as well as fabulous cocktail bar and whisky speakeasy. Read on to discover more about this new property in the very heart of the capital and one of our favourite new luxury hotels in London.
Background and Concept
The Great Scotland Yard Hotel should be every tourists dream when they visit London, it’s steeped in such a rich history that it feels like quite a privilege to be there. This is the first UK hotel in the Unbound Collection by Hyatt collection, a portfolio of premium hotel properties, ranging from historic urban gems to contemporary trend-setters and boutique properties around the globe. Each of the properties draws from its history and surroundings to create a unique experience for guests so no two properties are the same.
The site on which Great Scotland Yard Hotel sits is deep in narrative, stretching back over 1,000 years. The back of the hotel is dated to 997 when Royal Housing was gifted to Kenneth III, King of Scotland, to be used during his visits to the English monarchy. This link to Scottish royalty gave the street its iconic name. The last Scottish monarch to occupy the house was Margaret, Queen of Scots, sister to Henry VIII in 1541. From 1541 onwards, Great Scotland Yard was used to house prominent civil servants, on account of the proximity to the Royal Palace. For instance, Christopher Wren (architect of St Paul’s Cathedral and major parts of Oxford and Cambridge University), English poet John Milton (author of Paradise Lost) and Indigo Jones (architect of Covent Garden, Lincoln Inn Fields and Banqueting House) all lived there at some point.
Today Great Scotland Yard is most famous as the former headquarters of the London Metropolitan Police force, who were located there for over 200 years. It is this front part of the building, which the front of the hotel occupies and whose striking architecture of Edwardian red brick and Portland stone is instantly attributable to London. It was during this time the Plaistow Marshes and Jack the Ripper crimes were investigated at 3-5 Great Scotland Yard, with two detailed letters signed from ‘Jack the Ripper’ even being sent to the building in 1888. The police force moved out in 1890 and in 1910 the building façade was redone to look as it stands today. It was taken over as the British Army Recruitment Office and Royal Military Police headquarters, serving both World Wars, before going on to be used by the Ministry of Defence until 2013.
Interior Architecture and Design
HBA designers were elected to express the individuality of the hotel through an unexpected play of Edwardian-inspired hues and patterns, alongside conventional Whitehall, and bursts of colour that relive the sophistication of the era whilst keeping a flair of the contemporary (you can read an interview with David T’Kint one of the partners of HBA here) While Art consultant Sarah Percy-Davis of Hollandridge Group took a groundbreaking approach to the art at Great Scotland Yard, which is inspired by the historic significance of the site and her aim was to ensure guests have not only an informative but also a transformative experience during their stay.
Upon entering Great Scotland Yard through the brilliant green doors, guests are greeted to a natural flow of food and beverage spaces. The Parlour, transports guests to the nineteenth century West Indies with tropical landscapes and wicker furniture, juxtaposed with black and white tiled floors. Opposite The Parlour, doors open wide into The 40 Elephants. This bar, in the centre of the property, is naturally lit by a skylight from which a breathtaking chandelier composed of a series of broken glass is hung. This encapsulates the spirit of the all female gang which the bar is named after, along with the glass-engraved portraits hanging high on the walls.
Beyond The 40 Elephants, guests can discover The Yard which is reminiscent of a countryside escape. The Yard’s distinct identity is conveyed through barrelled ceilings, vintage lamps and tanned leather banquettes. Hidden behind secret doors disguised in bookshelves is a portal to Sibín the hotels speakeasy. Whiskey-filled display cabinets sculpt the club into three spaces, rolling along the copper-leafed distressed wood floors, whilst a bar sits at the centre, beneath a ceiling feature made of 1,935 bottles.
Lobby And Check In
A warm welcome awaits as you arrive at the entrance of the hotel by the doorman who escort you down into the lobby area. Reception is tucked away to the right and in front of you sofas and an array of sculptures and art curated by Sarah Percy Davis. My eye was immediately drawn to the large art piece by Nicola Green made up of lot of portraits of silhouettes of people who lives have been touched by the British justice system. I also loved the perspex cabinets filled with police and justice items, like the barrister’s wig, police whistles and truncheon.
Check-In is completed at one of the two desks, I was offered a welcome drink and then shown around the ground floor of the hotel and then up to my suite.
You really couldn’t be more central, moments from Trafalgar Square, The Strand, Downing Street and Covent Garden all on your door step too. It is very well-connected with the London Underground service with Westminster and Embankment stations being close by.
The property includes 152 guest rooms, of which 15 are suites, and there is one stand alone Town House too which is located over five floors and has its own entrance. Guest accommodation comes in a wide range of categories ranging from king bed and twin rooms, through to deluxe and premium options. If you are looking for more space their suite categories include a range of rooms individually named, like their Lewis Suites in honour of novelist Lewis Carroll and their Sherlock Suite named of course after Britain’s most famous fictional detective.
Guest rooms are finished in a neutral colour palette and given the history of the building no two rooms are the same. Further curated details include iterations of the key, which links back to the renowned green entrance door, and wardrobes concealed behind book cladded doors. Suites have four-poster beds and marble fireplaces. All of the 152 bedrooms have generously designed bathrooms with oversized showers and British tiling cladding the walls.
During my stay I was in one of their newest suites at the front of the hotel, the suite had a separate living/working space and bedroom. You can see a complete tour round my suite over on Instagram.
A book on the history of the property goes into great detail about the building and it is fascinating to read through.
A well stocked mini bar with lots of treats and a selection of complimentary teas, coffees and water was positioned at the door.
The bedroom was well proportioned and given the history of the property it only had a small oculus window which meant it was cosy at night-time. It is also worth noting that given its incredibly central location as it is slightly tucked away from the crowds it is actually very quite during the day and night, so you will get a good night sleep.
The bathroom was as large as the bedroom and had a huge twin sink and mirror down one side of it, and on the other side the separate bath and marble rain shower.
Food and Drink
The ground floor of the hotel is where all the bars and restaurants are located and there is plenty to choose from.
The Yard by Robin Gill
GSY’s signature restaurant offers a slice of the countryside in the capital under the guidance of critically acclaimed chef Robin Gill. Offering thoughtful modern British food, the quality of ingredients in this space are there to support a generous and ever-changing menu built around their suppliers and produce. Engaged and caring staff help to generate a fun, natural environment creating memorable experiences. Robin is supported by Executive Chef Alex Harper (formerly at The Ledbury and The Harwood Arms) and we have included the restaurant in our guide to the best restaurants in London, it is definitely worth visiting whether you are staying at the hotel or not.
The Parlour on the ground floor is a space to sit and relax in the afternoon, ideal for an Afternoon Tea. The team work closely with Henrietta Lovell, founder of the Rare Tea Company, Robin and Head Pastry Chef Veronica Martinez to ensure that the tea selection complements the afternoon treats being served which run daily and are priced at £55 per person.
The ground floor of the hotel also provides an array of drinking options, each with their own strong sense of identity, and all overseen by Bar Manager Michal Maziarz (formerly Head Bartender of Four Seasons at Ten Trinity Square).
The 40 Elephants
The 40 Elephants is the hub of the hotel and open all day until late evening serving everything from amazing barista-served coffee to specialised signature cocktails, local craft beers and ciders. Essentially it’s a place to roll up your sleeves and get social. Named after a notorious all-female gang of thieves, who were active throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, The 40 Elephants cocktail bar serves drinks inspired by “Cooling Cups and Dainty Drinks” by William Terrington. Dating back to 1869, it is believed to be the oldest book on British cocktails. It led Michal to create a selection of cocktails where spirits aren’t the only base, rather wines, fortified wines and beers are used too. Low or non-alcoholic options with intense and complex flavour profiles are also present on the menu, alongside chilled seasonal punch, inspired by English hedgerows. We have included The 40 Elephants into out guide to the best cocktail bars in London and certainly one to put on your list when you visit London.
Sibín is a more intimate drinking den, influenced by the anti-establishment, illicit bars that originated in Ireland around the turn of the seventeenth century. Whisky and poitin (commonly referred to as Irish moonshine) were the drinks of choice and Michal had championed these spirits in an inclusive and dynamic way, as well as looking at Moonshine, New Make, White Dog and other white grain spirits. Consisting of over one hundred bottles, sourced from around the globe, the whisky list is an ever evolving selection of limited editions. Moving away from stuffy preconceptions around whisky, there is a playful cocktail list titled the ‘Antagonist Ten’ this uses whisky as a starting point in cocktails that are light, fruity and fragrant; and also the ‘Classic 10’ which allows guests to choose their own whisky base, according to preferences. Guests are also be able to select from a number of whisky or cocktail flights, ranging from the introductory to the experimental, or intended to be paired with food. Further interactions are encouraged through masterclasses and tastings for guests staying in-house as well as external visitors.
The Great Scotland Yard Hotel is fun and inventive, they have taken a significantly historical building in London and injected it with personality while keeping the history of the building very much alive. The food and drink outlets in the hotel are really worth visiting, whether you are staying as a guest or not, and the staff really go above and beyond to get to know the customer – it gets five stars from us!
Address: 3-5, Great Scotland Yard, Westminster, London SW1A 2HN