Rubens at the Palace, London’s Famed Royal Neighbor, Moves Up to Five Stars

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The iconic Rubens at The Palace hotel, stately neighbor of Buckingham Palace, has emerged from a grand renovation with its heritage fully intact but now up to speed with all modern amenities – as well as a coveted fifth star. The luxe London landmark, a bastion of traditional English elegance, has, in one form or another, been around just as long as the palace itself. In the early 1700s it was part of an estate owned by John Sheffield, Earl of Mulgrave, who was later made Duke of Buckingham by Queen Anne, and it first opened as a hotel catering to the court, aristocrats and members of high society in the early 1900s. The refurbishment was inspired by this colorful and regal history, and it is the hotel’s most extensive overhaul since it became part of the Red Carnation Hotel Collection in 1997.

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Each of the posh property’s 163 rooms, suites and serviced apartments were upgraded in some way, with highlights including 80 new marble bathrooms and 163 chandeliers, some of which were made in the famous Venetian islands of Murano. These touches are nicely set off by contemporary conveniences such as USB sockets and upgraded televisions. The hotel’s famed public spaces are now also fit to charm a new generation of royal watchers. The hotel’s flagship English Grill now joins the Cavalry Bar, Palace Lounge, Leopard Bar and Curry Room in offering a perfect quintet of food and drink venues. Celebrating the epitome of British fine dining, the English Grill’s signatures are an open kitchen, supreme cuts of meat from the same butcher who supplies Buckingham Palace, daily pies and carved roasts, served up in equally sumptuous surroundings.

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On the other side of the hotel is Nova, an architecturally avant-garde destination that “brings together some of London’s most exciting eateries and recreational outlets,” breathing new life into the Victoria neighborhood. As part of the renovations, the side of the hotel that overlooks Nova is now adorned with a 1,150-ft. living wall, home to over 10,000 herbaceous plants that help improve the air quality of the neighborhood and indeed the palace grounds as well as keeping the hotel cooler in summer and warmer in winter. Along with further adaptations to the infrastructure including solar panels, this means that The Rubens is now amongst the greenest hotels in London. It’s part of Red Carnation’s broader commitment to support local charities as well as conservation, preservation, nature, heritage and green initiatives.

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One of the can’t-miss attractions at The Rubens, in addition to dinner in the English Grill, is the new sushi and sashimi experience in the cozy Leopard Bar, accompanied by live jazz. Located directly opposite Buckingham Palace Royal Mews, the ritzy watering hole has a selection of over 200 whiskeys and 30 champagnes. The sushi and sashimi menu was created by Chef Suren who trained at both Hakkasan and Gilgamesh and acquired 10 years experience in Japanese cuisine prior to going the Rubens team. The delicacies are all made to order right at the bar, and include the house special signature spicy tuna roll, made with premium otoro and akami tuna. Head bartender Silviu Stan has paired the sushi and sashimi with the highest quality sake, most notably the Koto Premium Sake Umeshu, made with the finest Shirakaga plums. The sushi and sashimi are served on tiered stands. Live jazz by resident singer Sourya is on offer Tuesday through Saturday. 

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Also now part of the offerings at The Rubens and befitting its royal surroundings is the most expensive pot of tea in the UK. Priced at £500, or about $ 625, the hotel’s Royal Afternoon Tea features an exclusive pot of PMD Tea’s fine Ceylon Golden Tips, a rare tea blend produced in the highlands of Sri Lanka. Along with the sybaritic beverage one can also enjoy freshly baked scones, pastries and finger sandwiches. To create the Golden Tips tea, “expert tea pluckers skillfully hand-pick the tips of the small, succulent shoots of a special tea plant at sunrise,” after which they are sundried on a velvet cloth with the utmost care, turning the buds from silver to gold and giving the drink its name. At tea time, gold tweezers are used to pick the leaves and weigh them with precision, after which the tea is infused using natural mineral water and poured from a special silver tea set.

The irresistible scent of the Golden Tips brewing might just waft through the gates to the Palace, prompting the Queen to come round and invite herself to tea. So we highly recommend being properly dressed for the occasion. Because when you’re this close to Buck House, as it’s known among the toffs in town, literally anything could happen.

Red Carnation Hotels

Red Carnation Hotels

Red Carnation Hotels

Red Carnation Hotels

Red Carnation Hotels

Red Carnation Hotels

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