Reinvention of The Carlton Tower Jumeirah: £100 Million Well Spent

The Jumeirah Group, the global luxury hospitality company that operates 24 properties in eight countries, best known for the iconic sail-shaped Burj Al Arab in Dubai, has tapped luxury designers 1508 London and taken 18 months to completely revamp The Carlton Tower Jumeirah. Spending a cool £100 million (approximately $139.4 million) to launch the 17-story property to the top of London’s five-star set, the project encompassed reconfiguring the guestrooms from 216 to 186 to offer larger accommodations—nearly 50 percent are suites now and 87 have balconies—creating a new lobby and entrance, a new health club and spa with London’s largest naturally lit swimming pool, a restaurant, lobby bar and lounge, ballroom and meetings rooms. 

London correspondent Emily Goldfischer was the first journalist onsite as London has just come out of lockdown. She met with regional vice president, London and general manager Aaron Kaupp for the scoop and a hard hat tour.

Backstory: With an incredible location on the private Cadogan Square in the heart of Knightsbridge, the five-star property originally opened in 1961 as London’s first tower hotel and was celebrated for being the tallest in London at the time. The Carlton Tower was the epitome of glamour: The place to see and be seen, where international stars came to stay and Chelsea socialites flocked to play. The hotel was originally designed by Henry End, also responsible for the interiors of the Plaza Hotel in New York; now, architecture design studio 1508 London (who recently did the swanky spa at The Lanesborough) have drawn on the hotel’s glam heritage and location to create a modern classic with a timeless, refined interior and sense of grandeur. Think: Soft, curved edges, pops of bright color, and stunning use of stone and organic materials.

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“The hotel has an incredible history and location but it wasn’t considered among the very top hotels before,” says Arron Kaupp, Luxury Travel Advisor’s “General Manager of the Year” in 2010, who most recently served as GM for Le Royal Monceau, Raffles Paris where he led the luxury property since 2016. Prior to that, he was general manager at Belmond Villa San Michele in Florenc. “Now, The Carlton Tower Jumeirah can comfortably mix on the playing field with London’s most iconic luxury hotels—not just because of the incredible renovation, but also every step we are taking to hire and train the right team. It is a complete repositioning,” he tells us.

Rooms and Suites

The 186 guest rooms have been completely renovated to the highest standard, designed to offer a sense of tranquility with an emphasis on light and space.  Take note: 87 of the rooms and suites have the benefit of a balcony with direct views either over the greenery of Cadogan Square or Harrods and Knightsbridge. Combining a modernist aesthetic with minimal style, the accommodations have textured wall paneling, sumptuous soft furnishings in a warm color palette influenced by British heritage hues in deep blue, greens and maroon, as well as floor-to-ceiling marble bathrooms with toiletries by organic brand Grown Alchemist.

Top digs: The Royal Suite on the 10th floor is the hotel’s most exclusive residence, offering three bedrooms with the option to privatize the entire floor for up to five bedrooms.

“If you are wondering why the top suite is not on the top floor, it is because the layout of the building allowed for a better configuration on the tenth floor, which offers just the right perspective over Cadogan Square, Sloane Street and views all the way to the Shard,” says Kaupp. “The Royal Suite is perfect for families, but my other favorite room type is the Luxury Suite Category; these rooms feel like cozy apartments with beautiful entrances, powder rooms and living rooms that overlook the gardens.” We agreed, especially loving the floor-to-ceiling windows in the bathrooms.

Need to know: Luxury Suite Category rooms end in “14” and are on Floors 11 to 17. Also, there are eight types of room classes with connectors, so families have lots of choices.

Public Spaces and Restaurants

Beyond the rooms, the hotel is almost unrecognizable so drastic has been the transformation, though they did keep the large external sculpture by Dame Elisabeth Frink. She was at the beginning of her career in 1961 when she crafted the piece for the hotel—and is now acknowledged as one of the most important English artists of her era. This sculpture has been retained and restored, a highlight of the “porte cochere” entranceway that continues to the redesigned revolving glass doors. Through the front doors, you enter the lobby through a grand double-height space, which has a stunning fluted chandelier (fun fact: there used to be a column where the chandelier now sits that was removed at a cost of £1.5 million). Another thing we loved and noticed: The hotel’s signature scent is from Paris’ Blaise Mautin perfumerie. “Every detail has been thought through to create a memorable sense of place,” says Kaupp.

Accessed from the lobby is The Chinoiserie, the hotel’s comfortable all-day dining area, which will serve Afternoon Tea and cakes all day, plus the best club sandwich in London, promises Kaupp. “We are in the final stages of recruiting our culinary team and we’ll be getting pastry chefs and a food and beverage director from Paris.” Additionally, a newly created lobby bar will offer a refined cocktail experience in a clubby nook off the main lobby.

The hotel’s destination restaurant, Al Mare, will offer a sophisticated yet informal dining experience. The hotel’s executive chef and Al Mare’s head chef is Italian native Marco Calenzo, who joined the hotel from London’s beloved Zuma, where he was executive chef. Prior to this, Marco worked for Four Seasons Hotels internationally, as well as at The Lanesborough in London. Al Mare, which translated from Italian means “at the sea” offers light and modern Mediterranean dishes alongside a carefully curated wine list and artisanal cocktails.

The Peak Fitness Club and Spa

The hotel’s health club has been completely redesigned over three floors: New treatment rooms have been created at the Talise Spa on the second floor and the swimming pool area revitalized. This pool is London’s largest in a hotel with natural daylight and its bright interior is complemented by views through its double-height glass windows, lined with new poolside cabanas for relaxation. It honestly feels like you have been transported to a resort, not the middle of Knightsbridge! 

As for the gym, The Peak offers studio classes, Technogym equipment on the ninth floor, which overlooks The Peak’s light-filled cafe with panoramic views across the capital. With its new design and features, as well as a strictly limited membership, The Peak looks set to retake its position at the forefront of London’s luxury wellness world. Additionally, The Carlton Tower Jumeirah has partnered with Theragun to offer these high-tech massage tools for guests to use and as a sleep aid. (This the first time they are available in a hotel!)

Bring the Family

With the many connecting room options, the large pool and keyed access to the private Cadogan Gardens, the hotel is hoping to welcome many families. With that in mind, the hotel has partnered Anabel Karmel, a highly regarded and best-selling cookbook author in the U.K., who is doing its children’s menus. The Carlton Tower Jumeirah will also be offering swim classes for kids with a former member of the Team Great Britain Olympic Swim Team, as well as extensive babysitting options. 

COVID-19 Considerations

Following government guidelines in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, The Carlton Tower Jumeirah will offer the impeccable service for which it is known, positioning the reception discreetly to one side, with thermal imaging cameras, to minimize service and congestion in the foyer. All bedrooms have windows that open to allow natural ventilation, and the hotel’s public spaces will adhere to regulations, including the appropriate PPE for restaurant and hotel personnel.

“This has been the hardest thing about opening—hospitality is about warmth, handshakes and hugs,” says Kaupp. “We’ve worked around it and have intensive training, safely spaced, from now until we open on June 1. We have attracted an experienced and highly skilled team, and everyone is very excited to welcome and serve our guests in a safe yet hospitable way.”

Kaupp is hopeful that International travel from the U.S. will resume in time for the summer season, and the hotel will be ready and waiting.

For questions or VIP bookings, email Aaron Kaupp, regional vice president, London and general manager, The Carlton Tower Jumeirah [email protected] or call +44 0207235-1234.

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