Hoping off an early Emirates flight, I spent my time snaking through Heathrow’s passport queues reminiscing about my childhood playing Monopoly with my very competitive siblings. I rarely won as I was always misguidedly obsessed with buying up the most expensive dark blue squares and bankrupting myself building a hotel on Park Lane (ironically, the hotel on the site now was originally abandoned due to lack of finance during World War II, before it was saved and enjoyed a grand opening in 1927).
Therefore, the board game obsessive in me was particularly excited to stay at the Sheraton Grand Park Lane hotel, a spot on the famous board beaten into second place only by the slightly more expensive Mayfair final square.
First impressions were good: I had forgotten to book a car to pick me up at Heathrow and emailed the hotel as I took off over Dubai asking if they could find a large vehicle able to transport a rather large 30kg box of glassware I had to bring with me at the last minute for a work event.
Upon landing, a text arrived confirming all was arranged and, before I knew it, the hotel’s exquisitely groomed staff were helping to lug my excess luggage into the hotel.
The Park Lane hotel is renowned as the best-known Art Deco hotel in London. Opened in 1927, it was bought by the Sheraton in 1996, underwent a renovation drive and unveiled its new face in 2016.
The hotel has two entrances, the grand entrance on Piccadilly and a smaller back entrance on Brick Street. My taxi landed at the back entrance, which leads into a reception area with lots of wooden panelling and low ceilings. Check-in was straightforward and I was waiting for the lift to my room with quite an underwhelmed feeling. Had Rich Uncle Pennybags got his Monopoly squares mixed up as the reception area was nice but what was the big fuss?
All was ahead of me: I turned a corner and ventured out into the lavish Palm Court area, which is the beating heart of the hotel and a bright, massively ceilinged lobby area, with marble floors, tapestries, stylish couch areas, carefully restored interiors that put the 1920s Art Deco touches centre-stage.
As I checked in, a staff member told me the hotel had partnered with sleep experts and Hatchards, the oldest bookseller in London, to create the ZZZ-list - an exclusive library containing a specially curated selection of books designed to help guests get the best night’s sleep possible, with some chosen to appeal specifically to Middle Eastern residents. As a would-be novelist, at first I felt sorry for those whose prose had been classed as sleep inducing, but the hotel posed an even bigger problem when it came to sleeping: the hotel is so overwhelmingly beautiful that you may not want to go to bed at all.
The 303 newly renovated rooms are a throwback to The Great Gatsby Art Deco era, with 20s-style fixtures, large circular ceiling lights over the bed and mirrored headboards.
The 43 Sheraton Club rooms and suites also gain you access to the Sheraton Club Lounge on the ground floor next to the concierge desk at the rear entrance of the hotel. The lounge has two areas – one for dining and one for relaxing – and there are computer and printing facilities, which were a godsend when I had dozens of work pages to quickly print out.
Once you’ve enjoyed the iconic afternoon tea at the Palm Court and had your fill of chakra silver-tipped white tea, smoked salmon, seaweed scones and harp music, check out another of the hotel’s modern gems, the Smith and Whistle.
The bar takes its inspiration from the fictional story of Detective Inspector Smith and his pursuit of legendary high-class criminal Mr. William Whistle. Sworn enemies, the bar is laid out as if it has just been the venue of one of their truces and secret swapping catchups, with hats on racks, umbrellas across the walls, cocktails and craft malt beverages.
You could always bring along a four-legged friend and order a Bubbly Bow Wow or a Poochie Colada from the bar’s range of 'Dogtails', as the venue is considered one of the dog-friendliest bars in the English capital.
Throughout the month of August, the hotel is also offering a special package for GCC-based guests. While Park Lane costs £350 (AED1,607) to buy on Monopoly, you can stay at the Sheraton Grand Park Lane from £399 (AED1,832) per night, with the offer including tailored room amenities such as dates, hummus, maamoul cake, baklava and exotic juices and fruits.
In addition, GCC guests can get halal meat options and a curated Middle Eastern themed menu for dining at the Palm Court or as in-room dining.
A bit like the board game in which Park Lane features, the undeniable cachet of the address continues to be a draw. But in the case of the Sheraton, that’s just the beginning of the story.
Details: The GCC offer rate can be booked directly on Marriott.com by selecting ‘Special Rates’ in the ‘Find & Reserve’ section and adding E81 code into the field.
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