The LaLit London
What We Love
- Naan and wine pairings at the onsite bread bar
- Some guest rooms feature views of the Shard
- The opulent mother-of-pearl ceiling at The Headmaster’s Room, one of the two hotel bars
- Daily afternoon chai service in the mezzanine gallery
What To Know
- The hotel was a boys’ school in the late 19th century
- Guest rooms on the top floor boast 30-foot ceilings
- As a nod to its Indian owners, the basement spa offers Ayurvedic treatments
- All guest bathrooms are equipped with temperature-controlled floors
- Free WiFi
When the Lalit Group, a formidable family-run hospitality empire that already presides over twelve hotels in its native India, set its eyes on the British capital for its first overseas venture last year, it promised to deliver a sophisticated version of the Subcontinent. It’s why the staff offers subtle Hindu namaskaars and the bar serves up rum-spiked lassi. Guest quarters, which were all classrooms in a past life, are now swathed in ochre silks and velvets, though it’s the intricate headboards, embroidered with peacocks that gallantly steal the scene. It’s a flawless cultural double play that sets this 70-key, South Bank stunner apart from its urban contemporaries. Feast on Keralan lobster bisque, redolent of coconut and cognac, and Himalayan morel mushrooms, slathered with mint and plum chutney, at Baluchi, the hotel’s buzzy upmarket Indian restaurant. Though the building’s red-brick Tudor exterior and steely black gates, the former setting for St. Olave’s Grammar School, seem like surefire previews for a quintessentially English experience, inside, the gold-flecked tapestries and Hyderabadi chandeliers deliver a far more cosmopolitan stay.
In the Area
The hotel’s central Tooley Street address puts it squarely in the tourist zone, conveniently situated near attractions like the Shard, London Dungeons, Shakespeare’s Globe, and the HMS Belfast, a WWII cruiser with a whopping nine decks. It’s also surrounded by “listed buildings,” or points of historical and architectural significance, including The Shipwrights Arms, a proper English pub (read: plenty of local beer) that dates back to the 19th century, and author George Orwell’s former residence. Also within walking distance: the Unicorn, an up-and-coming theater catering to younger crowds, and Tate Modern.
How to Get There
Great concept, cute presentation. However, the experience was underwhelming. I scheduled a High Chai for 2:30pm on a Friday. I was one of two dining parties in the entire Gallery of the Lalit. As a single diner, I was seated directly in the center, facing the wall. The empty space was quiet with soft music piped in; staff were mingling about setting up for (what I hope) is an evening rush and a phone loudly ringing near reception, and the echo of footsteps and dishes in the room over. First was the masala chai and mango lassi. Cute presentation, I was given a small whimsical glass of tea and a bottle of lassi with a straw. both good. I ordered the vegetarian plate. The samosas were good and probably the highlight. The veggie kathi roll was also okay but not a personal favorite. The second tray included the array of chutneys, bhel, and dhokla. The bhel had a slightly salty flavor that lingered, similar to a large flaky salt. Would have preferred a citrus or tangy aftertaste instead. And the khaman dhokla was dry, even with the addition of chutneys. Top level sweets were also good, but nothing fantastic and could have had more variety. I was provided only one cup of chai, and was not revisited by wait staff after the snacks were delivered and waited almost another 20 minutes past finishing before I was asked about the bill. The handful of staff in the Gallery seemed to be unaware there was a customer and spent this time pacing across the room in front of my table without so much as a smile to warm up my dining experience. While this is something unique and a wonderful space, it lacked passion, creativity, and liveliness that it should have had. I would say my experience receiving masala chai while queuing for Dishoom was much more invigorating and provided more value in quality and environment. The lack of service and personality make the High Chai at the Lalit a pass rather than a can't-miss.
We stayed on 09th November for our wedding anniversary and had a wonderful stay here. We loved the interior and decor of the hotel - it smells gorgeous as soon as you walk in (like a spa) and the oriental theme is great. Our superior classroom was reasonably sized and nicely laid out. We appreciated the little touches like the biscuits/snacks and the heated fancy toilet seat! We had a problem with the swipe card not working and had to use a manual key for entry in the end, but this was sorted out swiftly for us. We did find the check in a little slow/there was always a queue waiting for reception. We had some drinks in the evening in the cocktail bar and found the bartender wonderful - she made us anything we asked for (off the menu, but at a price!)... we loved the breakfast and the Balucchi room is stunning (those chandeliers!). The location is ideal for exploring tower bridge area/nice walks. Our biggest disappointment was that there was no cuddly elephant on our bed as per all the brochures/pictures online. The room was booked for us as our anniversary present and it was chosen by my brother specifically because he knows we love elephants (our wedding was elephant themed). We didn't actually see many elephants inside the hotel. The beautiful elephant in front of the hotel is great though! We would def recommend!
This is a newly refurbished boutique hotel which was clean and had a very comfortable bed. I did not think that it had the 'wow' factor but it was reasonably priced and the staff were incredibly helpful and personable and they pushed the boat out to make our stay enjoyable (which it was).
The breakfast was fine if a little restricted in range and every component that we tasted was of a good quality.