The Café Royal is a place very close to mine and my husband’s heart as it’s here that we held our Wedding Reception and celebrated our marriage all the way back in May 1991 when it was simply the Café Royal, a venue for parties, banquets, meetings and a place to enjoy dinner and drinks. It was only fitting that we would celebrate our 25th Wedding Anniversary last May here at the Café Royal.
The Cafe Royal now.
Although our 25th Wedding Anniversary stay was back in May 2016 long before I started my blog, I feel I need to feature this hotel because it was such a memorable stay and the Café Royal’s service can rival that of many of London’s finest 5* hotels such as Claridges, The Ritz and The Savoy and although I cannot supply pristine photographs of the hotel and of dinner at the Ten Room, my camera was very basic back then, I hope I can do the Café Royal justice by adding a few recent photo’s I took during Afternoon Tea and a few borrowed and I hope you too will one day decide to stay in this iconic hotel.
The Café Royal became a hotel a few years ago in December 2012 after it underwent extensive restoration when it closed in 2008, many of it’s fixtures and fittings were sold at auction. The architects David Chipperfield restored and transformed the Café Royal into a luxurious 160 room 5* Deluxe Hotel which is owned by the Alrov Property Group. The group has sister hotels in Paris, The Lutetia and in Amsterdam, the Conservatorium, both in keeping with the same classic and contemporary style as the Café Royal.
The Café Royal was created by French wine merchant Daniel Nicholas Thevenon and his wife Celestine in 1863, they fled France to avoid bankruptcy. Under the wing of their son-on-law, the hotel soon gained a reputation as one of the finest wine sellers in the world and frequented by literary legends such as Rudyard Kipling, Oscar Wilde, George Bernard Shaw and H G Wells as well as Royalty, Princess Diana was a frequent guest as well as many celebrities such as Mohammad Ali, David Bowie, Brigitte Bardot, Elizabeth Taylor to name but a few. If you exit the Oscar Wilde Bar, you approach a magnificent stair case whose walls are adorned with photographs of the many writers, nobility, royalty and celebrities who have visited this iconic establishment over the years.
After our very emotional visit back to the Café Royal in many years, my husband and I both fell in love with the hotel and certainly approve of how it has been restored but still retains many original features, it’s the epitome of classic luxury.
The “N” symbol represents “Nicols” to remind visitors of the foundation and history behind the set-up of the Cafe Royal, Daniel Nicholas Thevenon who created the Cafe Royal shortened his name to Daniel Nicols but according to concierge, Nicols’ son-in- law had the “N” symbol put in place to commemorate Napoleon not his Father-in-law. The Napoleon Suite is where we got married.
Our visit encompassed an overnight stay and dinner at the Ten Room restaurant, if memory serves me well, the name was taken from their smaller less formal restaurant before the refurbishment. Although we didn’t have Afternoon Tea during our visit, I knew I wanted to come back one day to enjoy this Great British Ritual, you can read my post on my Diptyque inspired Afternoon Tea here. Afternoon Tea is served in the Oscar Wilde Bar named after probably it’s most famous literary visitor, OscarWilde, here is where he met his lover, Lord Alfred Douglas. We took a quick peak and I was so relieved to find that this grand room was still the same, as if time had stood still, memories came flooding back of where we came to celebrate several Wedding Anniversary dinners at what was then, The Grill Room.
The excitement of coming back to the Café Royal and the prospect of perhaps seeing the Napoleon Suite where we celebrated our marriage had me exhilarated and on quite a high; I asked one of the reception staff if they could show me around alas, a room of that size which could comfortably hold 400 guests for a sit down reception was used for some of the many rooms the hotel now houses, we had 380 guests at our wedding!! I felt a tinge of sadness but it was to be expected. Nevertheless, she showed me around one of the smaller banqueting rooms which I remember well, I believe our guests had champagne and nibbles here. Of course, my new husband and I were somewhere else having a much needed half hour sit down with champagne and sandwiches!! We needed the energy to sustain us through the evening ahead and boy was it a fabulous evening, lovely memories to cherish and last a life time. The hotel should certainly be proud, it’s a re-birth of a legend brought right up to date with a cool contemporary feel and more than a touch of glamour with it’s imposing staircase where we took many photographs on the 26th of May 1991.
The magnificent stair case where we took many photographs.
The same stair case now, restored beautifully.
We were shown up to our room which was upgraded from a Superior to a Grand Deluxe which was so kind of the hotel as there was also a much appreciated bottle of champagne on ice. I was due to have a treatment at the hotels Akasha Spa which has quickly built up a reputation as one of London’s top wellbeing centres. All manner of treatments can be enjoyed here as well as a dip in their Watsu pool, the first in London! Our room was in keeping with the hotel’s contemporary theme, a large king bed which was very Japanese like in how low it looked, the headboard was actually a third of the wall made up of what looked like large padded grey “tiles” and continuing above, Portland stone is used to complete the wall and to mirror the façade of the Café Royal which overlooks Regent Street. In keeping with the Japanese theme, the bathroom is entered via stylish doors with opaque glass surrounded by pale golden frames, an uber-cool Carrara marble bathroom where a separate rainfall shower awaits, I definitely wish I had one at home. Our room was equipped with a Nespresso coffee machine and ultra high tech super cool TV and radio with surround sound that can be switched on and heard in the bathroom. The room also had floor and wall heating, these fine little details are the essence of modern luxury and sophistication.
This is a photo of another of the hotel’s bathroom’s.
My treatment was a Detoxifying Vichy Shower Ritual which is basically a 75 minute treatment using several steps, warming Hammam, massage with essential oils whilst lying on a low wet bed made of concrete which is more relaxing than it sounds and soothing warm water is gently poured over, it’s a beautifully scented, calming and therapeutic treatment. I could definitely feel myself floating away to the gentle sounds of nature and the ocean. Meanwhile, I think my husband was relaxing at the hotel’s Green Bar which offers creative cocktails and spirits.
The Akasha Spa pool
I was definitely feeling refreshed and re-energised, the rest of the evening at the hotel was all about getting ready and enjoying more drinks at the Green Bar prior to dinner. The Green Bar has outside seating which overlooks the Whole Foods Market in Piccadilly, it was a lovely warm evening so it was pleasant to enjoy cocktails and people watch. The Ten Room itself is in keeping with the hotel’s chic sophisticated ambience, a large square dining area with what looks like the same marble used in the luxuriant bathrooms and also Portland Stone with glossy brown leather chairs. The food was exquisite marrying together traditional and contemporary flavours, from what I can remember, again, apologies because this post is coming a year after our visit since my blog was only launched in June of this year, we enjoyed veal chop and Aberdeen Angus fillet accompanied by dauphinoise potatoes and truffle mash. Our desserts were glorious, a melting chocolate fondant and a panna cotta with pistachio ice cream and a crispy pistachio tule biscuit. It was an exceptional meal delighting the senses with outstanding food, an evening full of nostalgia, emotion and excitement just as it was 25 years previously on our wedding day.
The next morning we enjoyed a very gratifying Full English Breakfast, I’ve no time for super healthy grains and yoghurt when I am staying in luxury hotels, I want the full works, we both do and this breakfast was just what was needed. We spent the rest of the morning mooching around London, window shopping before returning to the Café Royal for a final treat and that was a cake and coffee in the Dessert Lounge which has now been renamed Café Papillon which I must visit for lunch or brunch, it would make for another fabulous dining experience and post for the blog.
Our wedding invitation, the Cafe Royal in capitals! On the right, the invite in Greek.
Proud to share with you a few photos of our wedding day celebrated at this iconic venue now a beautifully restored 5* deluxe hotel.
There was only ever going to be one place special enough to celebrate this momentous day and that was back where it all began 25 years before on the 26th of May 1991, the CaféRoyal. There were no qualms when deciding what we were going to do, we both said “back at the Café Royal” together and so it was decided. Coming back here was a day full of magic, emotion and reminiscing, a day full of excitement and delight, perhaps a touch of sadness for the many years that have passed where youth has been replaced not by age but by wisdom and grace and of course four amazing children.
My beautiful bridesmaids, pageboy and my dad, a very proud day for him. My dress was created by the designer, Louise Hamlin-Wright who created many stunning dresses for royalty around the world including Mandy Smith who was briefly married to Bill Wyman of the Rolling Stones. I wanted a Spanish look for my wedding hence the style of dress with detailed organza and duchess satin bodice, removable lace sleeves which gave the dress a different look in the evening, flowers on the dress and crown. The “bright flowers” theme continued throughout the venue, the Cafe Royals’s Napoleon Suite Ballroom and yes, there was a money dance too!
We were seduced by the Café Royal’s charms once again, it’s definitely a hotel you must visit for fine food, luxurious surroundings and a bit of pampering at the spa, this hotel has it all.
The Café Royal Hotel
68 Regent Street
London W1B 4DY
020 7406 3333
Most of the hotel photographs are my own, some supplied and views are my own. I am very happy to share with you some cherished photographs of our wedding day, May 26th 1991.
Wedding Gown by Louisehamlinwright.