London’s Bloomsbury neighborhood has long been the place for dazzling parties and highbrow affairs. In the 1920s it was the home of the Bloomsbury Set, a clique of artists, writers, and thinkers like Virginia Woolf and John Maynard Keynes who would meet at elegant houses and stay up all night swilling champagne and exchanging witty banter. Now, the Bloomsbury Hotel, a Doyle Collection property that just received a multi-million-dollar facelift, is making sure this storied tradition carries on today.
From the outside, the building looks formidable and strict. But don’t be deceived by first looks; once you step through the lobby doors you are transported to a vibrant, dazzling setting (for an even more transporting experience, head to the Mandrake, another one of the city’s newest hotels). Originally built as a YWCA by famous British architect Sir Edwin Lutyens—who is also known for creating Queen Mary’s Doll House and most of New Delhi—the space now features a mix of old and new—as the historic chapel and library flow seamlessly into swanky public spaces and plush guestrooms.
The hotel is full of lounges where London’s newest set of social elite (Google’s office is close by, as is the British Museum, which also undergoing a renovation) meet to drink creative cocktails against specular backdrops like the double height Coral Room. The 2,100-square foot space has quickly become a neighborhood hotspot thanks to its sleek Calacatta marble bar and plush booths, which are nestled under the space’s five Murano glass chandeliers.
If you’re craving something quieter, the same floor features a private lounge for hotel guests. Complete with botanical wallpaper, pink and green accents, and an original fireplace the lounge is the perfect place to cozy up with a good book or enjoy a Cognac before heading up to bed.
On the upper floors, all the guestrooms rooms have been remodeled to maximize space and light, and each boasts views of the neighborhood’s graceful rows of townhouses. For the ultimate landing pad, settle into one of the Studio Suites. Set on the corners of the building, the suites feature elegant wood furniture, velvet armchairs, original artwork, and modern amenities. The crowning jewel are the Italian marble bathrooms, which have deep freestanding baths, double showers, and mosaic floors. They also come complete with flat screen TVs, in the likely event you never want to leave.
If you do manage to tear yourself away from your suite, head outside to the Dalloway Terrace, where you can fill up on high-class comfort food in a peaceful, secluded garden. In the summer it’s full of flowers; in the winter, it’s heated and decorated with fairy lights. Those wanting a sexier, more old-school option can head to the Bloomsbury Club Bar, which opened last year. It has plush leather armchairs, rich mahogany paneling, and cocktails cheekily named after the Set’s infamous love triangles, which were a constant source of scandal for the Edwardian society of the day. (For help decoding the map-like menu, ask for the hotel’s poet in residence.)