Café Royal : Looking Back
The story of Café Royal is a fascinating and endearing one. London legends and founders of the Café Royal Daniel Nicols and his wife Celestine fled France in 1863, leaving behind a trail of debt and bad luck and escaped to London to make a new start.
However, success came to the Nicols because of their inherent knowledge of French culture: exclusive fine wines and haute cuisine unknown to the British. In return, the British embraced them enthusiastically and as luck would have it, by the end of the 19th century, Café Royal had become famous for possessing the “greatest wine cellar in the world.” In honour of this fascinating and extraordinary history, Café Royal maintains its tradition today by offering guests an exceptional selection of wines – “the best seen on earth” – focusing on French regions.
Looking Out : The Cultural Links
Acclaimed writers and artists such as Oscar Wilde and Aubrey Beardsley congregated inside Café Royal for stimulation and brilliant new ideas. This hub of British culture’s social scene soon became popular amongst other great-minded people such as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, H. G. Wells, George Bernard Shaw, Rudyard Kipling, and W. B. Yeats … all of whom championed their respective causes from this very place. Other affluent British iconic men and women such as Winston Churchill, D H Lawrence, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward offered a diverse culture of creativity inside the café. Sit down inside The Café and you too will be inspired as you are watched over by their portraits on the wall.
This like-minded culture extended to captivate audiences of film star idols to form a warm ambience and atmosphere. Stars such as Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton stayed here, as well as Brigitte Bardot. Café Royal became a convenient meeting place for music artists, such as Louis Armstrong and David Bowie in 1973. Accustomed to receiving guests from the Royal family, the hotel made an impression on the Prince of Wales – later to abdicate the throne as Edward VIII in order to marry Mrs Simpson. It attracted the Duke of York, later to become George VI, who often took lunch here, as did Diana, Princess of Wales. It’s hardly surprising that the persona of Café Royal has to maintain an impeccable and faultless standard.
Historic Design : Architecture
The architecture of Colonnade Terrace where Café Royal is situated was designed by the famous John Nash in the 1800s – the genius mind behind the original idea that made London one of the world’s most famous tourist cities, as well as attracting the admiration of new up-and-coming architects. Regent Street was originally called New Street before the Georgian boulevard honoured the Prince Regent – King George IV. Café Royal’s architecture too is splendidly detailed, its original building being a Grade II listed property. After its acquisition by The Set, its closure in 2008 for over three years during restoration and redevelopment must have frustrated the regulars. Café Royal’s architects — David Chipperfield Architects – are world-famous for their radical and sympathetic building design and have skilfully crafted a perfect balance of three centuries retaining its grand historic public rooms of the 1860s and 1920s, which are distinctive and incomparable.
Akasha Holistic Wellbeing Centre
Akasha, Café Royal’s holistic wellbeing concept, claims to be “150 Years Young.” It is hidden underneath the hustle and bustle of Regent Street and spans over 1,200 sqm. Akasha is a Sanskrit word that encapsulates the harmony between the four basic elements of nature – earth, water, fire, and air – purifying mind and soul. Akasha’s newly-acquired host of external experts are available for private consultation to complement the existing holistic wellbeing offering. They include an intuitive counsellor, life coach, nutritionist, Reiki Master, aquatic bodywork specialist and a yoga and remedial massage specialist.
Café Royal’s alluring 18m/60ft lap pool is fantastic. By its side, the privacy of an individual bed cabins allows you to focus on the purpose of the visit — total relaxation. Behind the Egyptian-style walls is a grand sauna and steam room and a jacuzzi. Ask for a private Hammam for purifying scrubs and massages. Their Sodashi plant essences treatments are calming and are 100% free from chemicals, mineral oils and synthetic preservatives and fragrances.
The Café at Café Royal
The Café is a must visit coffee and cake shop. It looks out onto Regent Street and stops pedestrian traffic mid-stream. People stand in front of the window and admire the meticulous display of cakes. Inside The Café you will be treated like royalty, whether you spend as little as £5 or £50, it’s the care of the service that upholds The Café’s reputation. The Café revives the traditional European café culture and you will want to return again and again.
Oscar Wilde Bar
Hotel Café Royal continues to be different from other 5-star hotels. The staff take great pride in looking after their guests. Enjoy a decadent and quintessentially English tradition in the iconic surroundings of the Oscar Wilde Bar and you will be forgiven for indulging in the chef’s carefully crafted menu of unique sandwiches, scones, delicacies, cakes and savouries. Try the traditional Battenberg cake, which was supposedly created to celebrate the Royal Wedding in 1884 between Prince Louis of Battenberg and Queen Victoria’s granddaughter Princess Victoria. Adhere to the dress code – British scones somehow do not taste the same in trainers and jeans — and enjoy the indulgence.
68 Regent Street, London W1B 4DY, +44 (0) 20 8406 333