My recent visit to London yielded many things—trips to quite possibly a million museums, a play about a bank robbery where the British actors mimicked Southern and Midwestern accents, a glimpse of the Queen (not really, but our cabbie informed us when the Royal Standard is flying at Buckingham Palace it means she’s home, so close enough).
But a definite highlight was a stop at the Sheraton Grand London Park Lane, an Art Deco stalwart located in Mayfair facing Green Park from Buckingham Palace. The former Park Lane Hotel, which originally opened in 1927, is celebrating its upcoming 90th birthday with a multimillion-dollar upgrade from local firm MKV Design. Construction of the building, intended as apartments, first started before World War I but was abandoned due to financing.
Dubbed the Birdcage by Londoners because all that stood on the site for many years was the structure’s steel frame, the hotel’s now-restored Palm Court lounge—complete with new furnishings and a stunning stained glass ceiling—hosts its Birdcage Afternoon Tea (that most venerable of British traditions), in homage to the moniker.
Details that recall the 1920s abound throughout the 303-room property, along with nods to the hotel and neighborhood history. Lining the corridors, for example, are original black and white photos of area scenes; guestroom lamps nod to those found in Coco Chanel’s apartment; and allusions to the Disney classic 101 Dalmatians, which was set in the park, appear in guestroom figurines.
A most stunning holdover from the era? The original Art Deco ballroom, complete with its own entrance and gallery that was frequented by socialites, celebs, and aristocracy and which would have even served as an alternate venue for the House of Commons if the Palace of Westminster were damaged in the Second World War.