Classic upscale property overlooking The Royal Mews at Buckingham Palace
Located in Victoria, near popular landmarks and public transit
Beautiful rooms have modern furnishings, traditional details, and glamorous chandeliers
Flat-screen TVs, coffee-and-tea-making facilities, and air-conditioning come standard
Fantastic bars and restaurants, each with individual ambience and menus
Palace Lounge has traditional British style and Royal Mews views
Lots of thoughtful extras for families with young children
Multiple well-equipped meeting and events spaces
Five-minute walk from the main gates of Buckingham Palace
A sustainable living wall on the side of the building
Free Wi-Fi throughout
No on-site gym or spa, but in-room treatments can be booked
Rooms lack minibars, though there is 24-hour room service
Bathrooms are a bit tired in some rooms
The 161-room Rubens at the Palace is a luxury property in Westminster’s bustling Victoria neighborhood. It has a royal history stretching back to the 1700s and has been family run since 1912. The hotel embraces its rich past and setting -- opposite Buckingham Palace -- with rooms that are grand, traditional, and outfitted with modern artwork and furnishings. Amenities include flat-screen TVs, coffee-and-tea-making facilities, luxury toiletries, and Royal Mews views, but rooms notably lack minibars and bathrooms can be a let down. The English Grill receives rave reviews, as does the authentic Curry Room. There are also two bars and a gorgeous space for afternoon tea: The Palace Lounge. Several events spaces are available, but sadly there's no gym or spa. For a similar stay, consider The Grosvenor Hotel.
Opulent hotel showcasing British style and views of the Royal Mews at Buckingham Palace
The Rubens at the Palace has had connections to the Palace as far back as the 1700s. In the early years, the site was home to Court dressmakers, and even became a headquarters for the Free State Polish Army during the Second World War. Today, it looks perfectly at ease alongside iconic Buckingham Palace and the ultra-modern new NOVA development in Victoria. These days, the hotel is adding even more modern flare to its classic charm. As of our 2018 visit, a 1,148-foot-tall Living Wall was installed on the side of the hotel. With over 10,000 herbaceous plants on the wall, the installment is meant to improve the quality of air in Victoria as well as bringing some nature to the increasingly urban surroundings.
Inspired by its illustrious past, and the changing face of Victoria, the design throughout is traditional and British, but with contemporary twists in the art and furniture. Each area has its own distinct personality, which keeps things interesting in such a large property. There are fun prints in the Leopard Bar (which was undergoing renovations as of our 2018 visit), moody hues and speakeasy-style table lamps in the Cavalry Bar, and a smart modern style with plush seating in the English Grill. Most travelers and locals can be found at the handsome Cavalry Bar instead, for afternoon drinks or informal business meetings. Though the sheer number of gathering spots does help give this historic property a lively vibe.
Opposite the Royal Mews of Buckingham Palace in Victoria, close to Victoria Station
The Rubens at the Palace sits in an affluent part of Victoria, in London’s Westminster neighborhood. There are numerous high-end hotels, chain restaurants, and bars within a 10-minute walk, but the main draw is the nearby public transit and proximity to top London landmarks. It’s a four-minute walk to Victoria Palace Theatre and Victoria train station. The hotel overlooks The Royal Mews and is only a five-minute walk from Buckingham Palace’s main gates. It takes the same amount of time to reach the Apollo Victoria Theatre. Slightly farther away is beautiful Westminster Abbey, which takes six minutes to reach on foot. Top sights like Big Ben, the Palace of Westminster, and The London Eye, are a pleasant 20-minute walk alongside St James’s Park for some of the journey. Alternatively, it takes about 15 minutes on the train, which are available from Victoria Station (a 10-minute walk from the hotel). Heathrow Airport is 45 minutes from the hotel via train, and just a few minutes more by car. Gatwick Airport takes 40 minutes to reach by train from the hotel or a much longer hour and 25 minutes by car.
Classic and individually designed, with modern amenities and Royal Mews views (in most)
The 161 rooms here have a modern-meets-classic style, with furnishings hand-picked by the owner alongside contemporary artwork. In many rooms, impressive Royal Mews views enhance the upscale effect. Interiors vary from room to room, with four-poster beds, cushioned headboards, and bold accent walls all making an appearance. There’s a classy atmosphere across all categories, with carpeted floors, heavy curtains, and soft seating, working well with the more modern mirrored walls and bright color palettes. Beds are comfy, with thick mattresses, and all rooms have at least one chair, while larger rooms and suites have extra chairs, small sofas, and some have separate living areas. For business travelers, there are generous desks and plug outlets, as well as bedside tables. With such a large range of rooms, the hotel tries to match its guests with their favorite colors and styles -- going above and beyond most of its competitors.
High-end amenities include flat-screen TVs (32 to 52 inches), free Wi-Fi, coffee-and-tea-making facilities, plus wardrobes with safes, and ironing facilities. There are no minibars or fridges, although 24-hour room service is offered. Bathrooms have a mixture of bathtubs or walk-in showers, and while some are clad in marble, others are a bit underwhelming. Premium toiletries and hairdryers come standard. The most jaw-dropping options here are the apartments, which are bi-level and include one or two bedrooms, living and dining areas, and access to a shared terrace. Apartments also feature plasma screen TVs, fully equipped kitchens, high-end toiletries, and decadent marble bathrooms.
A range of handsome dining and drinking spots that draw guests and locals alike
The hotel’s biggest drawcard for both guest and locals is the proximity to Buckingham Palace, and that's on fairly grand display in the hotel's Palace Lounge. Literally set across the road from the Royal Mews, the lounge has comfortable armchairs and a huge bay window, which makes it ideal for watching the mounted guards as they walk past. A decadent afternoon tea is served here, but with twists on standard fare including beetroot bread, gin and tonic cheesecake, and English rose macarons. The Cavalry Bar, on the other hand, is tricked out in moody dark tones and opulent gold tables to create a convincing speakeasy style. There’s an extensive bar menu and a gin and tonic experience available. For formal evening meals, The English Grill or Curry Room are ideal. The Grill serves premium cuts of meat using a charcoal-fired Josper grill. Fittingly the restaurant uses the same suppliers that serve the Queen’s kitchen. The Curry Room does high-end Indian fare, using imported spices to create authentic dishes.
Extensive family and pet-friendly services, several well-equipped meeting rooms, and in-room beauty treatments
There are lots of glamorous features at The Rubens, but it also caters for families too. In the Palace Lounge there’s an afternoon tea option for princes and princesses, which is for children under the age of 12 and includes kid-friendly treats. Additionally, children under 12 can stay and eat for free at the restaurants when staying and dining with an adult. For older children, there are PS4 video games consoles, movies, and books on request. A popular pastry experience is available too. Kids get to don chef's whites and make cupcakes in the kitchen, which are then boxed, and the children are given a certificate. Pets are welcome too, with beds, turndown treats, bowls, and dog sitting services all available.
There are several well-equipped meeting rooms and event spaces named after Da Vinci, Rembrandt, Van Dyke, and the likes. All have state of the art audio-visual equipment and high-speed internet access. The rooms can be configured in a variety of ways depending on the event. Full secretarial support and a dedicated coordinator are provided with some meeting rooms, too.
Finally, the hotel doesn’t have a spa, but it can arrange In-room massages and beauty treatments, as well as access to a local gym. St. James’s Park nearby is perfect for jogging or dog walks, and the hotel offers a Sports Buddy system, so guests don’t have to exercise alone. Wi-Fi is free throughout the property, and valet parking is available.
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