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
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Regal Indian interiors—a peacock blue color scheme, copper-threaded textiles—transform this Victorian-era grammar school mere steps from London Bridge
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.