BACKSTORY: Having already graced Bali and Milan with its hospitality (another property is slated for Shanghai in 2015), Bulgari opened this 85-room hotel in London’s Knightsbridge last year, significantly depleting the world’s supplies of Zimbabwean black marble. In fact, a rut has formed in the sidewalk between the lobby and Harrods.
WHAT YOU’LL FIND JUST OUTSIDE: Well, Harrods, along with a slew of other retailers not for the weak of wallet, is down the road. Chic Sloane Square and the hip King’s Road lie to the south, raunchier Portobello Road to the northwest. Hyde Park is nearby, if a stroll is in order, and, for the culturally inclined, the Royal Albert Hall is down the road for movies, tennis or the circus.
DESIGN NOTES: Black and silver motifs appear throughout the hotel, echoing the familiar Bulgari aesthetic, along with expanses of much-polished mahogany, green onyx, Italian glass and bespoke furniture. While flourishes are kept to a minimum, the carpets in the rooms have a bouncy-castle plushness to them and the padded corridor walls are softer than many beds.
HOT DISH: Given its sleek, Bulgari-esque décor, Il Ristorante is a surprise. The food is rustic and unpretentious—the paccheri pasta with meltingly tender ox cheek and Pecorino Romano is like something an overachieving nonna might conjure up. The staff, too, is wonderfully unfussy. “We want to feed people,” says one waiter, “not impress them.”