“The hotel has been on its present site since 1955 when it was built by the Phipps family, avid polo players who at the time owned The Westbury hotel in New York,” states Ashley Shaw, house manager of The Westbury Mayfair. “Deciding to build a similar hotel in the UK’s capital, the Phillps’ were not interested in star ratings or accolades, they merely wanted to have a property that would cater for the polo crowd when they were playing in this country. Opened by the US ambassador and a group of US embassy figures it was the first hotel to be built and owned by Americans in London.
“In 1999, Cola Holdings acquired The Westbury Mayfair and began the radical process of transforming it into the stunning hotel that it is today. Bringing onboard a general manager with many years of experience running five-star hotels, the owners commenced with a multi-million pound investment and redevelopment programme. What began with the bathrooms and bedrooms soon moved on to the lobby area, followed by the private events area, then the Polo Bar and finally the restaurants. In truth the hotel has been undergoing constant renovation work that is helping it grow and expand at a steady pace.”
When others were postponing or scaling back work during the height of the recession in 2009, The Westbury Mayfair broke the mould, spending around £40 million on the purchasing of an adjacent building and proceeding with its plans for two new restaurant concepts. “In looking for other ways the hotel could expand it went about building and opening the Tsukiji Sushi Japanese restaurant. A small sushi bar, its purpose isn’t to earn Michelin Stars or awards, it is instead designed simply to be a quality, friendly drop-in restaurant available to all,” Ashley continues. “After Tsukiji Sushi’s successful opening it was then decided that another new restaurant would open at the hotel, one that would become the centre piece for dining at The Westbury Mayfair.
“The Gallery Restaurant, which opened in July 2011, with its Italian mosaic flooring, crystal chandeliers, gold leaf pillars and floor-to-ceiling fading mirrors is the very definition of lavish. An all-day dining restaurant serving cuisine reminiscent of the French Rivera and Northern Italy it is headed up Head Chef Brian Fantoni, formally of Claridges and The Savoy. On top of this the hotel also has the Polo Bar, a hub of activity that seats 130 and is constantly fully booked for lunch and during the evenings, a late night lounge and towards the end of the year it will be launching yet another new concept, this time a fine-dining restaurant that will actively be pursuing a Michelin Star rating. Simply put, there isn’t a hotel in the surrounding area with a food offering the size of The Westbury Mayfair.”Flavour is the key
What each of these different dining concepts has in common is a commitment to make the cuisine on offer as appetising and well received as the amazing aesthetics that make up the restaurants themselves: “One of the most difficult aspects of being located in Mayfair is that everything is literally there on your doorstep, including a multitude of different cafés, bars and restaurants. This means the main job of the hotel is to attract people inside and this is achieved through the effort of its chefs. Knowing that flavour is the key ingredient that defines all food they also make a lot of effort to understand exactly where each ingredient comes from and how it is looked after in the time before it reaches the kitchen,” Ashley says. “‘In each of its outlets the hotel strives to create a different, unique experience, one that encapsulates the characteristics of the products and brings them to life.”
The hotel is also launching a private member’s club in January 2012. “The Club at the Westbury Hotel” will be situated adjacent to The Westbury Hotel, with a discreet entrance located on Conduit Street. The décor is reminiscent of period France, with all fittings oozing luxury, from the uber-comfy sofas to the striking chandeliers designed by Broze D’art Francaise. Only premium products will be served in the Club, including the finest wines and a selective and specific food menu.
No other five-star hotel based in London has even dared to attempt an expansion programme quite like that which is being undertaken by The Westbury Mayfair and the efforts of the hotel to grow show no signs of coming to an end: “The £40 million building that was purchased in 2009 is six storeys high and is currently home to The Gallery and two floors of event space with over 7000 square feet of floor space. Over the next 18 to 24 months the four other floors of the building will be becoming available and with these the hotel is toying with ideas that centre around the creation of fully serviced apartments, complete with their own chefs, butlers and concierges, and possibly a whole new spa complex. Needless to say, there will be a lot more new activities happening at The Westbury Mayfair in the near future,” Ashley concludes