Diamond day: Celebrate Valentine's at The Wellesley
The luxury Knightsbridge hotel has teamed up with royal jewellers House of Garrard for a romantic offer to treasure forever
Roses may be the flower of romance, but nothing says "I love you" like a diamond, which is why chic London hotel The Wellesley has teamed up with royally appointed jewellers House of Garrard to offer a Valentine experience you'll remember forever.
The Wellesley is situated on what was once the entrance to Hyde Park Corner tube station – the oxblood-coloured tiles on the outside are from the original building. Inside, however, the stylish decor is a nod to the building's most recent past as the iconic jazz venue Pizza on the Park and stylish art deco furnishings, in elegant neutrals, reflect the luxury and decadence of the 1920s Jazz Age. The contemporary, bespoke rooms have a vintage elegance, with sleek wood furniture, crown moulding and monochrome artwork, and bear names such as the Duke Ellington Suite, the Josephine Baker Suite and the Louis Armstrong Suite, where Portfolio stayed.
Once the friendly staff have checked you in, a personal butler, available 24 hours, is on hand to help you unpack and guide you round the room's amenities, which include electric curtains and mood lighting at the touch of a button - the nightlight setting is perfect for Valentine's lovers snuggling up on the soft, plush sofa while watching the 52ins TV. Guests have access to free wifi – there is a tablet in every room, with internet connection, online newspapers and hotel information – and a smartphone for use while in London.
The romance starts the moment you arrive with The Wellesley's exclusive Diamonds are Forever Valentine's experience. Lovebirds are met with a bouquet of roses, chocolate-dipped strawberries and a bottle of Veuve Clicquot before being whisked away in the hotel's Rolls-Royce to the House of Garrard's flagship store in Mayfair.
This elegant townhouse sparkles with the jewellery of history in a celebration of collections old and new. The visit includes a fascinating, immersive tour of the building and its workrooms, allowing guests to see the intricate and delicate craftwork behind Garrard's exquisite creations. You're also taken to the stunning Queen Mary Room, where the future queen had her first fitting for her consort crown in 1911.
A royal jeweller for almost 300 years, the House of Garrard has a reputation for fabulous love tokens. In 1840, Prince Albert commissioned the jewellers to make a sapphire and white diamond cluster brooch as a wedding gift for his future wife Queen Victoria. This symbol of love continues to be seen today – the arrangement is said to have been the inspiration for Princess Diana's engagement ring, a central Ceylon sapphire surrounded by 14 solitaire diamonds, which Prince William gave to his bride-to-be Kate Middleton in 2010.
If the romance of Albert and Victoria moves any guest to pop the question, they couldn't be in finer hands - the visit includes an exclusive consultation with Garrard's creative director Sara Prentice. Of course, she is also available to help those who have already tied the knot and are looking for an anniversary gift, as well as any couples simply searching for a perfect Valentine's Day present.
Once back in hotel, guests can prepare in luxury for a romantic dinner date. The hotel's underfloor-heated Arabescato Corchia-marbled bathrooms feature giant walk-in showers big enough for two and Hermes toiletries, while a recessed TV begs you to linger longer under the soapy bubbles of the roll top freestanding bath. You can clean your teeth standing side by side at the his-and-her basins, swaddled in fluffy Wellesley bathrobes. If your clothes also need a brush up, your butler is ready to have them pressed and looking sharp.
If heading out into the busy night crowds doesn't appeal, The Wellesley features a selection of intimate dining options. The bijou Oval Restaurant offers an exclusive, refined experience of seasonal Italian menus served in opulent surroundings, from the striking statement chandelier to the intricate marble flooring. My partner and I, however, dined in the equally chic Jazz Lounge, where we were entertained by a live performance from West End star Kate Galston in a beautiful 1920s-style room.
Our meal also sung: delicate panfried scallops with broad beans puree, pork rinds and orange sauce, followed by wild sea bass in salt crust – which made a showstopping entrance, wheeled to my table on a trolley to the delight of my fellow diners. My partner, meanwhile, was entranced by melt-in-the-mouth cannon of lamb followed by a gooey chocolate and pistachio fondant. I found room for a chocolate and lime cake with delicate touches of mint panna cotta to successfully counter the richness.
After beginning with a glass of Veuve Clicquot, we let ourselves be guided by our waiter for wines to match each course. The service throughout was personal and attentive without being intrusive.
Valentine's Day diners can also opt for a romantic four-course meal created by head chef Sebastiano Cioffi and his team, accompanied by a string of love songs from renowned jazz singer Sara Dowling.
Guests in search of the perfect spirit to finish off their meal don't have to wander far. The Wellesley's Crystal Bar – which wouldn't look out of place in The Great Gatsby – features an impressive and historic array of whisky, cognac and Armagnac. For £5,500, you can sip on a cognac created before the French Revolution.
Head across the corridor and you will find the perfect companion to your late night tipple in the UK's largest bespoke humidor, where a rare and vintage selection of cigars includes Montecristo, Cohiba and Bolivar. As ever, a host of friendly and knowledgeable staff, headed by specialist Giuseppe Ruo, is available to guide you to the perfect smoke, which can be enjoyed while relaxing in luxurious leather seats in the heated and covered Cigar Terrace outside. No wonder GQ named it the best place to smoke cigars in London.
After eight hours stretched out in the king size bed – first indulging in the fluffy macarons brought to our room as a late-night gift - it was tempting to spend the next morning enjoying the view over Hyde Park, lazily watching the early morning joggers. However, breakfast in the Oval Restaurant called, with an enticing menu offering everything from healthy porridge and yoghurts to a truly indulgent Champagne Breakfast, featuring smoothies, fruit, omelette with Scottish salmon, pastries, toast and hot drinks, all washed down with a decadent glass of Krug Grande Cuvee. It's the ideal choice for a long, indulgent start to the day.
A stay at The Wellesley will leave you with memories that last forever – just like diamonds.
Diamonds are Forever costs from £465 per night, based on best available rate. Valid from 10 to 20 February 2017. Valid for new bookings. Not valid in conjunction with any other offer. Further terms and conditions may also apply.
thewellesley.co.uk; 11-13 Knightsbridge, Belgravia, London SW1X 7LY. Tel: 0207 235 3535. Prices start from £385 per night for a deluxe king room to £1,425 for a two-bedroom suite overlooking Hyde Park. For penthouse enquiries, contact the hotel directly.