Can The Carlton Tower Jumeirah bring the hospitality of Dubai to London?

Can The Carlton Tower Jumeirah bring the hospitality of Dubai to London?



After a £100 million refurbishment, Jumeirah gets personal with its Knightsbridge hotel. 

What does a personalised service mean to you? Is it staff remembering your name, monogrammed slippers or photographs of, well, you in your room? Well, at The Carlton Tower Jumeirah, they did that and more. We'd go as far as to say that the personalised experience was so exceptional, it was the best we've ever had from a London hotel

When you hear the word Jumeirah, it brings to life a world of opulence. The Dubai-born brand is famous for its five-, and in the case of Burj Al Arab, seven-star service. Founded in 1997, it's the new hotel brand on the block by UK standards. The brand has plenty of properties in the Middle East, from newly opened Jumeirah Muscat Bay to long-standing Jumeirah Zabeel Saray, and a handful in Asia and Europe. So, when we checked into the recently refurbished, The Carlton Tower Jumeirah in the heart of Knightsbridge, we were keen to see how its hospitality translates from Dubai to London. 

The experience starts in style with a chauffeur pick-up. Despite the train and airport strikes – welcome to the UK – the hotel has gone out of its way to make an entrance. The chatty, charismatic driver takes me from Park Lane to Knightsbridge. I don't have to figure out routes or carry a suitcase. Instead, I'm sat in a smart car with plush seats, bottled water, fashion magazines and, all important, USB ports.  

The personalised service starts from the get-go. The smiling staff greet me by name and the concierge remembers me from my time living and working in London. The building is less palatial hotel and more posh townhouse, and the lobby is less shiny Dubai and more sophisticated London. Nonetheless, it still has that trademark Jumeirah touch. In true UAE-style, the finished floors, fresh flowers and fragrance create a warm yet luxurious welcome.

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Rooms and suites

The Carlton Tower Jumeirah has 186 rooms and suites, which span one-, two- and three- bedrooms. Our in-room check-in to the Junior suite is seamless, and there's nothing junior about it. The room is big enough to fit a king size bed, desk, sofa and walk-in wardrobe. Even though we are on the sixth floor, the floor-to-ceiling windows lead to a balcony with Insta-worthy views. Looking out onto the quiet Cadogans Square Gardens, Battersea Tower looms to the left and the rooftops of London to the right. 

The bathroom is bigger than most studio flats in London. It hits #bathroomgoals with the marble material, a double sink, walk-in shower and a stand-alone bathtub, which is perfect for relaxing. Plus, they've thought of everything, from the Dyson Supersonic hairdryer to Grown Alchemist products (including bath salts).

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Now, I live in Dubai, where dates are as common as camels, but the dates on arrival were oh-so juicy. I resisted the urge to eat them all, and gave them to my date-loving parents. Verdict: how are these better than the ones I bring from Dubai? 

Best of all, the hotel has given personalisation an upgrade: my name is on the mirror, my face is in photo frames, and my initials are on slippers and towels. Plus, the leather key card with my initials can be reused for subsequent stays. I'm most excited by the Scabble board, which I've yet to see in another hotel, with edible tiles reading: "Welcome to The CTJ, Ms. Sahota". Given that so many hotels call me Mr, Mrs and misspell my name, I'm won over.

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Restaurants and bars 

The Carlton Tower Jumeirah restaurants range from the all-day lounge, The Chinoiserie, to the Italian restaurant, Al Mare. We visited the sophisticated Al Mare for breakfast and dinner. On both occasions, the service was professional but slow-paced. Despite it not being busy, it's not a place to grab and go. Instead, you're encouraged to linger and enjoy each meal.

So, pick up one of the newspapers and take your time. The breakfast buffet is turned up a notch, with the finest fruits and pastries. The Full English includes two free-range eggs, grilled tomato, baked beans, mushrooms, puddings, bacon and pork sausages. Note: the dish is not cheap and costs £26. 

True to form, the hotel comes through on its personalised service, accommodating us for a late lunch. We settle into a table by the window, which has brown leather sofas, blue cushions and white tablecloths. We start with fresh oysters and bellinis – we're in an Italian restaurant, after all. We'd recommend the signature dishes, ranging from the Merluzzo Nero (a classic black cod with anchovies and spinach) to the Carre di Angnello (a soft, succulent rack of lamb). Plus, the deconstructed take on Tiramisu, with espresso coffee poured over the top. 

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Spa and wellness 

The Carlton Tower Jumeirah's The Peak Fitness Club & Spa is a spectacular space. Most London spas are underground, but this benefits from an abundance of natural light. The 20-metre-long swimming pool is under a glass atrium, while the facilities include five treatment rooms, a sauna and a steam room. Plus, the fitness club has treadmills by the window, offering panoramic views of London. 

We booked a bespoke 60-minute massage. Surprisingly, this didn't quite hit the personalised spot. Despite stating my preferences, from no oil on my face to a change of temperature, these had to be repeated. Nonetheless, the spa is so stunning, it's worth staying.

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The Carlton Tower Jumeirah is the perfect place for a city escape, as it's nestled in a quiet square, but a stone's throw away from world-class restaurants, shops and bars. The hotel is close to Middle East favourites, from the dazzling department store, Harrods, to the much-loved café, EL&N London, and tourist sites including Hyde Park, the National History Museum and Royal Albert Hall. And, if you want to make like a Londoner, visit the nearby The Wilton Arms – the Victorian pub has a fireplace and friendly service.

Jumeirah has delivered a masterclass in personalised service. We say goodbye to what feels like old friends, as they know Dubai and London. Most of all, it has been a home away from home. The Carlton Tower Jumeirah is back, and this time it's personal. 

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