News & Reviews Europe England Review: The Emory, London

Sigh, another London hotel opening, another must-stay for me.  I’ll need to indulge in all their amenities, devour their cuisine and try and fit all their towels in my suitcase – all in the name of a thorough review.  Won’t someone please think of the hardships this imposes on my children?

Unlike recent openings, including their neighbour, The Peninsula, there’s no big talk about the boatloads of cash spent here. I bet they spent only hundreds of millions on it, the peasants. Does this count as budget travel? The Emory consists of only 60 rooms, but does that really excuse them from spending billions? So very modest of them.  Less modest is their claim to be London’s first all-suite hotel—their words, not mine, as this ignores The Wellesley, barely a stone’s throw away on the same street, which has been proclaiming that title for over a decade. These days, The Wellesley is under the Marriott umbrella, and you’d be hard-pressed to find it topping any ‘Best of London’ lists unless they are penned by the management’s own children—and I think even they would know better.

The Emory might just dodge the fate of becoming another forgotten hotel, thanks to a little something called Qatari sovereign fund money.  And a fanbase whose loyalty to the Maybourne group’s hotels (The Connaught, Claridge’s, and The Berkeley) borders on the cultish.  Yes, I’m one of them.

My saga with luxury hotels began with The Berkeley.  I used to visit the Blue Bar long before I could even afford a room.  That’s where I got hooked on luxury travel.  About a decade later, I had my first date with my wife in that bar.  Aww.  Anyway, back to the important stuff: it has undergone such a massive transformation in the last few years it’s barely recognisable (the hotel, not my wife).  Between my first visit in the early 2010s and now, the only thing that has remained is the name on the door and a few doormen.  The Emory is the next stage of this incredible transformation.  What was once a Ferrari store is now a patisserie, and what was a vacant lot has been transformed into an entirely new hotel that’s designed to look like it’s sailing away or something – maybe a new tax avoidance scheme to claim non-residency.

It was 3C outside – imagine it instead.

Expectation vs Reality

Just weeks after declaring that attending new hotel openings is an utter farce, here I was, strutting in mere weeks after its opening.  The logic behind this decision?  Don’t ask me—I don’t know how my brain works either.  I dined at their restaurant, abc kitchens, and snagged the title of their first ever paying guest – a moment so monumental, it must have historians rewriting their texts as we speak.

A night at The Emory will start from £2,000 for a 55 sqm junior suite.  To put that into perspective, that’s nearly double what you’d pay for a similar sized room at The Peninsula.  But hey, they throw in airport transfers, a minibar you could live off for a week (stocked with Krug champagne and gourmet snacks), and breakfast.  Add up all the minibar, multiply by the square root of how disgusting you are and maybe it starts to look like value for money.  I don’t drink, so I devoured 95 of their house-brand chocolate bars to extract some semblance of value.  As I write this, my stomach is getting pumped at the local hospital.  But who’s the real winner here?  Me.  I won.

The Emory aims to be a home away from home, blending the comfort of apartment-like suites with the exclusivity of a private members’ club.  Traditional butlers are reimagined as “Emory assistants,” which sounds very wanky, but they’re offering services well beyond a butler, such as arranging private jet flights.  I’ll be out of a job soon.  The service was exceptionally warm and personable, making us feel well-cared-for, a notable feat, especially for a London property.

They would find the right moment to check in and try to improve our stay.  One evening, they phoned to see if they could organise dinner, even suggesting outside options.  Speaking to someone on a phone—what a novelty.  Although yes, you can still use WhatsApp.  The minibar was constantly restocked, little treats were sent to our room, and there was no signing for anything.  Hopefully, that’s the way it is rather than they forgot.

They reached out weeks prior to our stay to organise the free transfers and asked for any preferences.

We were collected from Kings Cross station (which is a really inefficient place to be collected from, it would have been quicker to get a taxi, but that’s not their fault), but decided to just give our luggage and instead walk, as we wanted to put the children to sleep in the strollers.  The entrance to The Emory is actually hidden, with its own reception area, so we went through The Berkeley, and people acted like they’d never heard of The Emory before.  I thought I was going to have to spell it for them or show it on Google Maps.  “You know, the building attached to yours?  Same owners?  E-M-O-R-Y?”.  We were taken to the restaurant to check in, who had to point out they were the restaurant, and then someone appeared and took us to our suite.  I don’t care about these things, but I love the idea that after spending all that money on a new building, they forgot to tell the staff about it.

I never responded to their request for preferences.  At Maybourne hotels, I must be getting close to over 300 stays.  They should know me better than MI5, the neighbour watch group and OnlyFans combined.  They did not, but they’ve been open a week so let’s forgive and forget.  I was then asked if we’d ever stayed in The Berkeley before.  Ok, they’re dead to me.  Anyway, they made up for it with lovely welcome amenities, including two delicious chocolate bears for the kids – I mean, apparently delicious, there’s no way I’d know as I definitely didn’t eat them.  Additionally, there were two non-edible teddy bears, and the teepee made its second appearance this year.

Ignoring some of the expected teething issues, the only downside was my best buddies: housekeeping.  On our second day we returned to our room at 1 p.m. and still found it was not cleared, so we phoned, and they somehow came straight away but took nearly two hours to finish.

Usually, hotels shine in the prep work before you arrive, nailing the procedures and standards.  That was a missed opportunity here.  What I did appreciate was the impromptu service—prompt and efficient, except for housekeeping.

Maybe the unlimited minibar isn’t good for anyone…

Room

There’s a lot of focus on throwing around designer names like I’m meant to know anything about them or be impressed.  I could just about remember if they said Michelangelo designed it.  Still, I got to see a few other rooms and found they’ve integrated the same theme as The Berkeley, with each floor featuring a different theme—even the corridors undergo transformations.  Floors 1-2 use so-and-so and 3-4 someone else, 5-6 another designer and that’s basically as good as my facts get.  I hope you don’t come here to be educated.  The rooms may be almost identical in layout, but they’re differently designed, with some sporting bolder colours whilst others more restrained.

We stayed in a Deluxe Balcony Park Suite on the sixth floor, which is 105 sqm.  I loved the design of the room, in fact I loved all the design of the hotel.  Ours was minimalist, with lots of wood and creams, with modern art on the walls, which all took your attention to the floor-to-ceiling windows that present the park to you like you’re the monopoly man and it’s yours.  Clearly, it catches the eye, as when we stood by the glass, people would look up and wave at us.  Never have I felt like such a cock as when I literally waved down from my tower.  Still, my children enjoyed it, and it taught them a lesson in humility or something.  Someone help me out here.  You also have a balcony, so you can recreate Michael Jackson’s famous balcony scene.

You enter the suite and have a guest bathroom to your left (no Toto), with a walk-in wardrobe next to it.  A walk-in wardrobe is the most underrated thing in a hotel, and it’s large enough for all our suitcases and maybe a relative or two to spare.  But should you wish, there’s even more storage near the bed.  These modern designers, it’s like they sometimes have actually been to a hotel before.  Next, you’re in the spacious living and dining area, with those windows and natural light smothering you in happiness.  A six-seater dining table is beside it, with the minibar behind.  In front of the dining table is a balcony, which during the eight minutes of warm weather London experiences each year, would make a nice moment to use.  We were among the first guests here, so I’ll let someone else beta-test it just to be sure the engineers really knew what they were doing.  

Separated by a door, the bedroom awaits.  It is more compact, but again, full floor-to-ceiling windows await you.  Around the corner is the main bathroom, which is not huge, but all suites offer a bath, Toto, and double vanity.  In the bedroom, convenience reigns with power outlets, including USB-A and USB-C, alongside a wireless phone charger right beside the bed.  The switches for curtains and blinds are refreshingly straightforward—just open or close.  The lighting system is also user-friendly, offering ambience adjustments via simple up/down controls.  In the living area and directly in front of the bed, the TVs are exceptionally responsive.  You press a button, and it reacts instantly; no more waiting half an hour for it to do something.

Weirdly though, there was a complete lack of glasses/cutlery in the room.  I dunno if this is because the place isn’t finished or they truly want to make it like a home – specifically, my home in my 20s when cutlery was takeaway boxes and the pineapple on my Domino’s pizza counted as my daily fruit intake.  A few tweaks are still needed, like tidying up cables that were hanging out.  The blackout curtains are about 95% effective, which is a significant improvement over Maybourne Riviera.  They’ve been smartly designed to extend to the edges of the windows, but the material itself falls just short of total darkness.

The view is basically just some trees, and if you squint you can see the abomination that is the BT Tower acting as the ultimate douche photo-bomber.  Other than the Shangri-La, there are few places to get excited about a view in London.  From the 10th floor, you can see the skyline, but first, you have to stare at other rooftops.  It’s not to say it’s bad, as all the light and greenery coming into the room is far superior to almost any other hotel in London, but it is just some trees.  Hong Kong or New York, we are not.  If you’re thinking you are actually going to see the park, then legally you are correct, but in reality, it’s some trees after a park view, but if you’re after an abundance of light and greenery that leaves you feeling all warm and fuzzy, this is the place.  I’d rather this than anywhere in Mayfair.

Facilities

So here is The Emory, a literal extension of The Berkeley.  It’s not next door to it, it’s a part of it – you can walk through the patisserie and suddenly find yourself in The Emory.  Guests here have access to all the same facilities as Berkeley guests whilst having additional amenities, such as the rooftop bar and cigar lounge.  I was sad to see that the Collins Room and Marcus are now gone and are turning into some Asian themed restaurant, which is yet to be announced.   Including the two bars at The Berkeley, that’s 4 bars, and only a single restaurant for the time being.

During my last stay at The Berkeley I marvelled that their enclosed famous rooftop pool had been shut and replaced with a rather downtrodden, depressing outdoor pool. Now the big picture becomes clear with the introduction of a spa called Surrenne.  But sometimes hype is your enemy.  Their copywriter had a little too much coffee that morning and they do the usual “a new paradigm in wellness and longevity” acting like no one has ever shown me a gym, pool or spa before.  But, in their defence, they have an oxygen chamber which you have to climb in like you’re having an MRI or preparing to get shot out of a torpedo.  I have never seen that.

Had Raffles or The Peninsula not recently opened, I may have been more impressed, but they both far surpass what is on offer here.  What Emory achieved, though, is groundbreaking: opening a hotel and having all the facilities open.  Gosh, what saints they are.  Well, almost everything, as I spotted some free weights and no barbells – apparently, a squat rack is on the way.

The spa stretches across four subterranean levels, with a 22-meter pool and cafe spanning the first level. The design is striking, bathed in natural light that filters down from above. It’s so inviting that I could easily spend hours here, lounging in one of the discreetly secluded cabanas, making occasional trips to their beautiful steam room or the scorchingly hot sauna. Unfortunately, it lacks a hydrotherapy pool. Also a shame the cafe’s choice of a drink called cordyceps—isn’t that what caused the apocalypse in The Last of Us?

My concern is that Surrenne is for both The Emory and The Berkeley guests, so I can only imagine how crowded it may get.  Particularly in the gym, which I had to double check was fully finished, as it’s so small and offers little in terms of equipment.  Even ignoring the recently opened Raffles and Peninsula, in terms of facilities, their neighbours, The Lanesborough and perhaps even The Bulgari, offer superior products. Surrenne does provide a specialist fitness/Pilates studio, which might be useful in developing patience while waiting for the slow elevators—you’re never quite sure if they’ll show up at all. Apart from that, the offerings feel a bit familiar. The treatment rooms, with their rather sterile design, stood out in stark contrast to the rest of the spa’s areas.

The pool was an Arctic expedition—absolutely freezing and, for me, utterly unusable.  When we arrived, other guests were already suffering its wrath.  If someone else finds it too cold, chances are I’ll get in, and they’ll just have to leave my corpse in there.  The pool is open from 8-10 and 3-5 for kids, so an upgrade on Raffles, but it will leave you and your children as frostbitten as Jack Nicholson at the end of The Shining.

Elsewhere, on the ground floor is their swanky bar, with outdoor seating, and on the 10th floor is their guests-only bar and cigar lounge, with a retractable roof.

Food

When I think of a Maybourne hotel, cuisine is one of their defining aspects.  The collapse of The Berkeley’s two restaurants means all the focus is now on abc kitchens, the new Jean-Georges restaurant.  It combines three of his other restaurants into one, as I guess he’s run out of ideas so just repeats them and makes it sound impressive by saying it’s a new concept.  I’m gonna try that one day, “I’m not being lazy and refusing to walk the dog, I’m trying a new concept”.

Still, even if this is his millionth restaurant, and I’m subjected to him during every stay in Four Seasons Philadephia and The Connaught, two of my most regular hotels, I actually like it.  (And just to emphasise his ubiquity some more, I’m writing this from Eden Rock St Barths where, directly after leaving The Emory, I’m now starring at a very familiar Jean-Georges menu).  The restaurant is raised above street level and faces the park, which I’m sure allows them to legally say park view, but really you’re staring at traffic.  Not a problem, the food is the main show here and the design of the restaurant is spot on.  They even learnt from The Connaught and decided to use chairs that I could sit in without my legs pointing out.  Huzzah.

Despite the fiery kick to some dishes, the food is delightful.  I dove into tacos, tuna tartare, beef, asparagus, and guacamole—each dish a hit, luring me back three times in one week.  And now I’ve discussed that restaurant…. that’s actually it.  It’s strange for it to be so absent.  In-room dining, managed by The Berkeley, proved successful during our trial run, and the Cedric patisserie lured us in with three of its cakes—though my heart still belongs to The Connaught.  Breakfast is also served here, featuring an impressive selection of pastries.

They’re taking a stab at health-conscious fare, complete with the usual hyperbolic claims of enhancing vascular health and boosting circulation—as if a single meal could tack on another two decades.  Forget the elixir of youth; just pass me the steak.

Whilst the food offering is currently minimal, it’s still worthy of a Maybourne hotel—just one not as good as The Connaught.

The Good

  • Food
  • Location
  • Spa

The Bad

  • Gym
  • I’m not gonna say service, as that’s unfair on a week-old hotel, but recognition should have been better.  My wife used to work for them; I have a feeling they know us.

The Luxurious

  • Rooms
  • Exclusivity

Rating

Good

Conclusion

The Emory is an excellent addition to London’s hyper-competitive luxury market.  While the pool is way, way too cold for comfort, the rest of the hotel exudes a warm and welcoming vibe.  All they need to do is assure me that the frigid pool temperature is a glitch soon to be fixed, and I could definitely see this place becoming a regular.  They better not hit me with any scientific spiel about the benefits of cold-water swimming—I’m not looking to recreate a polar plunge in a lake.  As for Knightsbridge, it’s not my favourite location, but with Mayfair just a short stroll away and the park right across the street, it has its perks.  I’ll allow their enthusiasm to sweep me up and say where the service is weak, it will improve, but overall, the way they looked after us and wanted to improve the experience has to be commended.  The food will only improve, and the overall product is excellent and unique.

I spent the stay not only surprised by how much I enjoyed it but also how well it came together.  Just after I’d recently bemoaned new openings, they’ve done a solid job here.  The informality of the place left me feeling we were all friends and this was a free stay.  What’d you mean it was a pleasure to have me and then bill me for it?  Oh well, back to letting my kids know this isn’t real life.  Until the next London opening a few months away.

Deluxe Balcony Park Suite starts from £9,000/n

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Tom Cahalan

Written by Tom Cahalan on 24th Apr '24

Dorsia Travel’s co-founder Tom Cahalan’s take on travel is reliably candid. Here’s his take on what’s good, bad, and luxurious.

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