Rosewood London is at the heart of one of the world’s leading cities. Since the early years of the 20th century, the grand Edwardian edifice has been a notable part of the life of the British capital.
The hotel is situated in one of London's most historic thoroughfares, High Holborn, a road that dates back to Roman times. The Manor of Holborn was mentioned in 1086 in the Domesday Book, a land survey, and through the Middle Ages, as the City of London developed, the district took on an increasingly significant role. During the 14th and 15th centuries, the Inns of Court were founded nearby, establishing the district as the centre of the British legal profession.
As the district grew in importance, so too did its residents. Former Holborn occupants include Sir Francis Bacon, Sir Thomas More, John Milton, Samuel Johnson and Charles Dickens. Dickens wrote Pickwick Papers while living here, and set scenes from many novels in the area, including Pip and Herbert Pocket’s home in Great Expectations. As the 20th century approached, the area was home to William Morris and Dante Gabriel Rossetti, as well as the Holborn Restaurant, an expansive eatery (it was formerly a casino) that the 1890 Baedeker’s guide to London called one of the best-known restaurants in the city.
Over the last century, High Holborn’s proximity to Drury Lane, Covent Garden, Fleet Street, Bloomsbury, numerous University of London colleges, world-renowned museums, influential galleries and the financial institutions in the City has kept it at the centre of London life.
History of No. 252
Designed by H. Percy Monckton in a flamboyant Edwardian style, the extraordinary building at 252 High Holborn began construction in 1912. The first part was completed in 1914, and it was expanded upon in four stages over nearly 50 years, during which time it was the headquarters for the Pearl Assurance Company.
The subsequent transformation of this historic building from Imperial Era offices into a London luxury hotel was carried out under the guidance of English Heritage, which lists the principal façades, as well as the interiors of the former East and West Banking Halls (now Holborn Dining Room and the Bar, respectively) and the Grand Staircase, as the hotel’s significant heritage features.
The magnificent street frontage, which today is the entrance to Rosewood London, features a central carriageway entrance and dome leading into a grand courtyard, which provides a calm sanctuary away from the bustle of the city.
Inside, the lavish interiors are fitted out with Cuban mahogany and seven types of marble, including extremely rare types such as Swedish Green and Statuary. One of the most dramatic features of this five-star heritage hotel is the Renaissance-style seven-storey grand staircase, an architectural tour de force in marble. It ascends from either side of the entrance on High Holborn, forming a bridge on the first floor and rising through all the floors under an elliptical dome. Looking upwards, the arcades of Pavonazzo marble frame a view of the cupola that rises to 50.6 meters (166 feet), the maximum permitted height at the time of construction.
The lengthy restoration project followed original designs wherever possible. Missing details have been carefully replicated and replaced, and throughout the hotel, the restoration process has created an ambience of a historic London residence with ample space and atmosphere for both intimate and large events.
With a nod to the building’s rich history, three individual heritage boardrooms are named in honour of chairmen of Pearl Assurance Company. The Grade II–listed building is now sensitively renovated throughout to provide accommodation with the feel of a stylish London residence.
The design is a story that gradually reveals itself through a procession of spaces with an intriguing use of detail and an abundance of furnishings, textures and objets d’art. At the heart of Rosewood London’s design is Rosewood Hotels & Resorts' philosophy A Sense of Place, in which the property reflects its location’s history, culture and sensibilities.
The many elements of surprise and discovery commence with the grand entrance. Visitors arrive through wrought iron gates that lead into a peaceful inner courtyard, providing a sense of arrival more akin to a private manor house than a hotel. Leading from the courtyard is the rose bronze gallery, a dramatic corridor connecting the hotel’s public spaces, designed by Tony Chi and Associates. The lobby is rich and luxurious in every detail and comprises black and white marble mosaic flooring, gilded églomisé glass partitions filled to the brim with quirky art and books, stunning oak armoires and a parchment reception desk. In the centre wall hangs an ornate, one-off painting by world-renowned Argentinian artist Eduardo Hoffmann, displaying the rolling countryside surrounding an English country estate.
The beguiling jewel-box design of the Mirror Room captivates the essence of British high tea culture with an understated formality and relaxed elegance. The floor-to-ceiling mirrors recall the glittering diamonds and pearls associated with the ladies of high tea culture. The palette of darkened columns gives a complementary subdued masculine tone, representative of the gentlemen who would accompany these female tea lovers. The setting allows for a variety for breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea and dinner occasions, perfect for guests and the pre- and post-theatre crowds visiting the West End nearby. The private meeting and dining salons adjacent to the Mirror Room are carefully curated and inspired by the unique wit of the British sense of humour with a curious selection of wall art.
Scarfes Bar, designed by renowned interior designer Martin Brudnizki, evokes a convivial atmosphere with a roaring fire at one end and wooden bar running along the other. The bespoke fireplace made from metal, antique brass and bronze is 1.8 metres in height and is complemented by the walnut Art Deco mirror that hangs above it. More than 1,000 antique books, handpicked by a Portobello art dealer, take pride of place in the shelves throughout the bar, giving the space a warm and welcoming feel, whilst the eclectic range of chairs adds instant glamour. Highlights include an 1870 lollipop rocking chair sourced in New York, 1950s antique cocktail chairs and the barstools, which were inspired by an original Edwardian armchair. The furniture is organised to create discreet, intimate corners on a wooden herringbone floor strewn with hand-woven rugs. Gerald Scarfe, the renowned British artist and caricaturist, has lent his name and artistic vision to Scarfes Bar. Amusing and conversational illustrations adorn the marble walls, creating a living canvas where the ‘artfully current’ corner is continuously updated to reflect the current affairs of the time. These captivating illustrations add a twist to the traditional luxury that has been beautifully executed by Brudnizki.
Holborn Dining Room, also designed by Martin Brudnizki, brings a fun, vibrant atmosphere to the refined elegance of the historic setting. Once the East Banking Hall of Pearl Assurance, Holborn Dining Room is a bustling brasserie with a menu of British dishes with a twist. Brudnizki’s interior draws on classic British design, mixing reclaimed oak furnishings, antique mirrors and opulent red leather upholstery with tweed fabric detailing. The seating ranges from stools and tables to more intimate booths and banquettes and has been designed to make customers feel welcome for every social occasion.
Rosewood London’s Sense, A Rosewood Spa can be found on the lower ground floor of the property. The spa features bamboo walls, soft lighting and wooden walkways over rippling water and pebble stones, which lead to seven treatment rooms, one of which is an exclusive couple’s suite. Facilities include a shimmering gold leaf and teak relaxation lounge, providing a restorative hideaway in the heart of London.
To explore the upper levels of the property, the iconic Italian Grand Pavonazzo marble staircase leads to all upper floors directly beneath the 166-foot high cupola and has an estimated value of £40 million. The staircase features seven different types of marble, some of which can no longer be found anywhere else in the world. Alternatively, the lifts are exquisitely embellished with traditional moulded leather, wrapped panelling and an alpaca ceiling.
The heritage meeting rooms recall the rich legacy of the building and boast listed status doors made from Cuban mahogany, which has been unavailable to purchase for the past 35 years. The rooms have been fitted with new furnishings, including lighting fixtures, that enable them to be used for corporate meeting venues as well as social occasions.
Fashioned from the finest materials and curated to the highest standards, the 263 guestrooms and 45 suites are all designed by Tony Chi and Associates. The elegant guestrooms reflect the style of a British residence and offer privacy, warmth, quality and nobility. Materials in the bedrooms include lacquer, textured wood veneers and prismatic mirrors, while the bathrooms feature the finest Italian marble and hand-beaten alpaca silver finishes. The eight signature ‘house’ suites are among the capital’s grandest and most spacious and include the Manor House—the only suite in the world to have its very own postcode. It also has its own private entrance on High Holborn as well as a private elevator. Designed to capture Old World charm with a modern twist, the 185-square-meter space is modern, sophisticated, edgy, entertaining and distinguished.
As a hotel committed to the Sense of Place philosophy, Rosewood London’s exterior, interior, public spaces and guestrooms all capture and celebrate the historic character and grandeur of this landmark building, guaranteed to create timeless memories of London for the visiting guest.