It’s well over a month ago now but I can still picture walking into Cinema Suite at Taj 51 Buckingham Gate like it was yesterday.
It’s not often you find yourself in the entrance room of a £5100 a night suite. By not often I mean once in a lifetime, as in it will never happen again, because even beginning to comprehend how much money you need to have to justify a night (or series of nights) in one of suites at Taj 51 Buckingham Gate is mind boggling. Still it’s awesome to see how the other half live and by other half I obviously mean the top 0.00001% of the world’s population.
I’m told the suites are heavily occupied throughout the year which is understandable considering the amount of money that exists in (and travels to) London. I doubt many of the room’s past occupants were picked up from South Place Hotel which costs around 95% less than the Cinema Suite at 51 Buckingham Gate. Nevertheless, I was picked up, in a Range Rover Vogue, not the Jaguar I was expecting but delightful all the same. With the Range Rover came news that the Ian Callum designed Jaguar Suite I was meant to be staying in was occupied, and thus so was the room’s chauffeured Jaguar.
Thankfully the good people from 51 Buckingham Gate had a back up plan and after greeting me on arrival checked me into the hotel’s Cinema Suite. The Cinema Suite was designed by acclaimed Indian designer Sabyasachi Mukherjee. The suite is a palatial 170 square metre, two bedroom suite with a dining room and bar, study, powder room, kitchen and expansive living room with incorporated cinema. The inspiration behind the eclectic design draws from the history of film from around the world. The suite’s walls are adorned with original movie posters and photographs of famous Hollywood and Bollywood personalities.
The Cinema Suite is outrageously extravagant and absolutely massive – so big it feels more like someone’s private home. It’s very easy to forget you’re in a hotel which I’m told is part of the reason the suite’s regular guests continue to return. The kitchen and dining room are large, and equipped enough, to accommodate a 10 person dinner party with ease. Naturally if you are hosting such a dinner you don’t want your guests having to walk through your room to the bathroom so theres a small powder room off the entrance foyer.
The study was my favourite room in the Suite and the perfect place to get a bit of work done before an evening out. It is the quintessential man cave with animal heads hanging over whisky decanters and shelves lined with many leather bound books.
Choosing which bedroom to sleep in was a real conundrum. I wanted to sleep in the Master with stunning four poster bed but I actually preferred the second room and its bathroom so I let the maid decide later that evening. Yes, later that evening as I sat with a friend in front of the 85inch TV enjoying complimentary beers and hors d’oeuvres the maid knocked on the door and asked me if I’d like turn down service. I welcomed her and she headed down the long hall towards the bedrooms. As JAWS played on Blu Ray and John Williams’ “DU NA” projected throughout the suite from the Steinway Lyngdorf sound system I thought I heard a woman calling – the maid? I turned the movie down as she walked up the hall before very politely asking, ‘sir which room would you like me to turn down?’ It’s safe to say that no one has ever asked me that in a hotel and probably never will again. After telling her she could choose, my friend just started laughing in disbelief – the situation I had found myself in was ridiculous and we both knew it.
Continuing our Indian inspiration for the evening we headed downstairs to Quilon, the hotel’s Michelin starred restaurant specialising in South-West Indian cuisine. Quilon was perhaps the best meal of my entire trip. Forget what you know about Indian food because Quilon delivers it in forms you can’t begin to imagine. We let the manager select his favourite dishes and sat back to enjoy a feast of fresh and feisty flavours including the most delicious scallop I’ve ever eaten. We both agreed it was not just the best Indian we’d ever eaten but one of the best meals we’d ever eaten. If you’re planning a trip to London and you enjoy Indian food Quilon is a must but you’ll need to book early to avoid disappointment.
After farewelling my friend who couldn’t quite believe the night he’d just experienced I headed back to the Cinema Suite for another film before showering in the second bedroom’s bathroom and going to sleep in the Master bedroom. When I woke in the morning and climbed down from the luxurious bed I opted for a shower in the Master bathroom and then called for some breakfast. As I waited for breakfast to arrive I packed my bags and spent a moment taking in the Suite for the final time before checking out.
Soon enough the Butler arrived with my breakfast on a gigantic silver tray held high above his right shoulder. ’Breakfast in the dining room?’ he asked. I nodded and he quickly got to work laying out my choices while I prepared some suitable music for the last meal of my London trip. After the Butler vanished I entered the dining room and sat down at the head of the table where my meal had been laid out. I flicked open the copy of The Australian I’d requested and tasted the fluffy white scrambled eggs and sat in my chair like a king while I listened to the soundtrack I thought suited the scenario perfectly: Freddie Hubbard’s ‘Weaver of Dreams’.
For more info and bookings head to http://www.taj51buckinghamgate.co.uk/