Just a stone’s throw away from London Charing Cross lies the Great Scotland Yard Hotel. Once the home of the first police force, it has now been transformed into a boutique hotel providing luxury, comfortable surroundings for its business and leisure guests. This stunning hotel is part of Hyatt’s Unbound Collection which consists of an exclusive portfolio of upper-upscale and luxury properties designed to captivate travellers seeking distinctive experiences.
The last dwellers of the property were the Metropolitan Police, who moved out in the late 19th Century. A grand Edwardian façade offers a tantalising insight into its former use, and it’s this impressive heritage that’s celebrated within the interiors, along with some of the habitual inhabitants and characters that stayed at her majesty’s pleasure.
The hotel offers 168 bedrooms with a ground floor dedicated to food and drink and a lower floor for events and fitness rooms. Earlier this year, an exclusive five-storey townhouse opened to provide presidential suite accommodation with all the seclusion of a townhouse property, with all the benefits of the hotel’s butlers and facilities.
Locating the hotel was a breeze, and some of London’s most iconic landmarks are literally on your doorstep. Trafalgar Square, the National Portrait Gallery and Buckingham Palace are easily accessible, while those looking for a tranquil spot to relax after a spot of retail therapy can head for the nearby St James’ and Green Parks. Westminster, Big Ben and the London Eye are a leisurely stroll away, and I’d recommend a walk along the Thames to take in the sights. Charing Cross tube station provides a convenient way to explore the rest of London’s attractions, and a helpful concierge team are also on hand to order a taxi.
As you would expect, travelling during COVID has meant that hotels have had to adapt to the new challenges of PPE and sanitising stations. The Great Scotland Yard has incorporated a one-way system along with clear signage and plenty of sanitiser stations. These are located at lift and restaurant entrances, and complimentary antiseptic wipes were provided in our room.
Welcome & First Impressions
Arriving at the hotel, we collected our key from the lovely Christina, who provided a short narrative of the hotel’s history. Its lobby stands testament to its police roots, and a gallery of installations from the hotels’ collaboration with charity Koestler Arts brighten neutrally decorated walls. The charity was founded in 1962 to help prisoners express and build self-confidence while providing a creative voice to the disadvantaged. A mini-museum has been collated, consisting of historic law and order pieces, from natural hair judge wigs and wig tins through to truncheons, keys and uniforms.
Impeccable interior styling sees Tom Dixon lights paired with seating areas dotted with talking points such as a quirky rhino styled chair and library tables. From the lobby, guests have access to The 40 Elephants, The Yard and Sibín bar. While we visited, the Sibín bar was unfortunately closed, but hopefully, it won’t be too long before this secluded gem is reopened.
Corridors feature police-themed patterns, while each door includes an antique style keyhole design with keyless access. Our King Premium bedroom provided a generous 25 m2 space to call our home for the night. From our window, we could view the courtyard buildings behind, and we were not overlooked. The room incorporated a more subtle and neutral approach to the building’s heritage, and amusing touches such as key, fox and moustache hooks added little nostalgic reminders. In-room amenities included a drinks station with a hidden fridge, drawers, and glass/cup storage. A kettle and pod coffee machine provides all the hot beverage essentials, while a hidden fridge provided chilled water.
Tech included a TV providing access to hotel activities, menus and ordering system along with ample bedside USB points for those that love to travel with their gadgets. The bathroom features an intelligent TOTO toilet and sensor lighting to help light the way during night-time visits! Air Con and heat control allows you to stay in control of the temperature, and it remained consistent throughout our stay. Guests can switch on a ‘do not disturb’ light to ensure an uninterrupted sleep – handy for international travellers coping with jet lag and time zone travel.
The bathroom consisted of a retro marble vanity unit with art deco styled mirror and lighting, paired with rich, dark blue metro tiles. A walk-in shower gave the option of overhead rain showerhead or handheld shower. The bathroom offered a range of handy travel essentials along with aromatic guest amenities such as moisturiser, shower gel, shampoo and conditioner – handy, if like me; you forget the odd essential or two!
Elsewhere, ample storage, ironing boards, a hairdryer and a smart safe provide practical essentials. An area to sit and relax was small but ample for our requirements. We had two pieces of colourful artwork that helped break up a neutral decor scheme.
Our king bed offered a generous amount of comfy sleeping space, and white bedding added a crisp, clean touch.
All in all, it was a comfortable and timeless space that provided all the comfort you’d expect from a Hyatt hotel. For bath lovers, you will need to enquire whether you can book a room with a bath as ours had a shower – fine for us, but might be an issue for bath fans.
The 40 Elephants
This retro and saloon styled cocktail bar features a central chandelier while the walls are adorned with forty glass etched portraits of the notorious females that made up London’s 40 Elephants gang. This shrewd team of ladies took stealing and bribery to a new level between the late 1800s and mid-1900s, often emptying shops, bribing wealthy households and transporting their ill-gotten gains around the country with military precision. A quirky list of cocktails (starting from £14), such as Handsome Polly (Mango wine, bergamot liqueur, Spanish brandy and carbonated perfume), Black Diamond whisky cocktail featuring a rich chocolate diamond and delicately spiced Indian Summer were masterfully created by a talented mixologist team. We opted to have dinner within the salon settings digging into a GSY beef burger and house-made charcuterie board to help counteract the deceptively strong cocktails!
We headed to The Yard not for obligatory exercise hour but for our breakfast. We were greeted by a welcoming team of waiting staff decked out in prison styled shirts and trousers and braces based on the original police officer uniform. The open kitchen features patterned tiles, while the dining space is finished in earthy tones with half brick and panel designs with feature arches. While we predictably opted for a Full English breakfast (£18), there was a wide choice of dishes from healthy and vegetarian options.
Come back again?
Absolutely, we couldn’t fault the staff for their friendly, professional, and caring attitude throughout our stay. While the hotel has been curated to replicate its heritage, the staff provide the personable detail that brings the Great Scotland Yard alive.