As you step into the Sheraton Grand, let your imagination run wild.
The year is 1927, and ladies and gentlemen from all over the country arrive by horse and carriage (and Ford Model Ts for those who can afford cars) for a weekend of champagne, dancing and gossip.
Back then, the venue was snapped up with a mortgage set at a meager 300 shillings and although property prices have steadily risen since (insert sobbing sound here), little else has changed at this historic London gem.
The Grade II-listed venue is steeped in history, having served distinguished guests such as Queen Elizabeth II and Winston Churchill.
The former Prime Minister and his cabinet of ministers famously rented out the magnificent art deco ballroom – housed on the lower ground floor and the only one of its kind in the capital – for five years during World War II to conduct secret meetings in safety when there were fears Parliament would be bombed.
Meanwhile the Queen spent hours learning her dance moves in the Tudor Rose room prior to her marriage to the late Prince Philip, The Duke of Edinburgh.
In 2022, the Sheraton Grand is just as breathtaking as it must have seemed to guests back then.
It’s usually quiet at this time of year but the situation is made worse by Covid after effects, though we’re told things have picked up in recent months. The hotel was also struck by a different tragedy last year, with staff mourning the loss of owner Sir Richard Sutton, who was murdered in April, 2021 at his Dorset mansion.
The venue remains in the family, having been inherited by his son, and falls under the Marriott umbrella. There are hundreds of Sheraton hotels in over 70 countries.
The Sheraton Grand London Park Lane was refurbished just a few years ago but has kept its original charm and features including the ornate stained glass ceiling and marble floors in the Palm Court lounge, which greets you on arrival.
We almost feel out of place in our modern clothes, with the space better suited for flapper dresses and striped seersuckers. Nevertheless, we received a warm welcome by the team.
They have booked us into the Grand Park View Suite, where we have our own dining room, living room with two sofas, Sheraton Signature Experience Bed (basically, it’s huge) and everything else you can imagine would be included in a room that averages at £800 a night.
Not to worry, a stay at the Sheraton Grand needn’t break the bank. A Deluxe Room will set you back around £360 (okay so it’s not cheap, but this is Mayfair after all).
The views are pretty spectacular too; our room overlooks Green Park and is a hop, skip and a jump from Buckingham Palace, in case you fancy popping by to see the Queen.
After a quick tour and once we were finished gawking at the luxurious extras of our extravagant suite, we head to Smith & Whistle, the downstairs bar, for a quick aperitif before dinner. The space has a contemporary feel when compared to the rest of the hotel, and is popular with the pet crowd – it even has a dedicated dogtail menu for pooches.
(By the way, the hotel also welcomes dogs, for those who fancy staying the night).
For the humans, there’s an impressive whiskey collection or try out the new sweetshop cocktails menu with five drinks inspired by treats from the roaring twenties, like the Tutti Frutti, Milky Way and Fruit Salad. Share a Sherbet Fountain with your Valentine but be prepared for a sugar rush.
Or go for something more traditional, like the It Could Be Negroni (think classic Negroni but with mezcal).
Delightfully tipsy, we sit down for dinner. It’s Monday so the main restaurant, Mercante, is closed but the team organise a private table and a feast in the Palm Court instead. It’s romantic, with the perfect mood lighting (never underestimate the lighting) and is exactly the intimate atmosphere you want for a date night.
We are treated to bruschetta and a plate of arancini balls – Paolo, the Italian restaurant manager, tells us his mother would be proud of the dish and she’s not wrong, it is delicious (albeit a little heavy). The fancy fried chicken starter is very tasty too, and the burrata is mouth-watering.
For the mains, we opt for the fish of day, served with mussels, which is nice but just a tad too salty and could have used something to cut the sharp taste, and the steak, which is a little chewy but otherwise yummy.
Paolo also brings us a glass of his favourite red wine, Vol D’anima de Raimat 2018, and it pairs perfectly with the food.
Despite some tiny flavour mishaps, we leave feeling full and happy, in large part due to the friendly service provided by the bar and restaurant staff.
We might be in a five-star hotel where celebrities hang out, but nothing about Sheraton Grand feels snooty. On the contrary, the luxury feels effortless.
The hotel is in the perfect spot for anyone keen on a night out in the capital, with Piccadilly Circus, Chinatown and Leicester Square a short walk away.
Alas, as it’s Monday (and we’re London locals), we are not tempted by the bright lights and instead promptly return to our Signature Experience Bed (it truly is gigantic) and have an excellent night’s sleep.
We’ll definitely be back soon.