Is London's Biltmore Mayfair, from Hilton LXR, a 5-star property? We put it to the test
Editor’s note: Welcome to our new TPG hotel reviews! We’re trying out some novel formats as we rate hotels around the globe, aiming to help readers decide where to stay and where to skip. We’ll still do some of our signature in-depth versions, as well as longer-form pieces for hotels we think readers will be the most curious about. For now, though, we’re going to keep things snappy and give you all the information you need if you plan to visit the same hotels that we decide to check out.
On a related note, before booking any travel, be sure to keep up to date with our country-by-country guide to pandemic-era travel restrictions and requirements.
On my first-ever trip to London, I had great expectations for the experience.
Naturally, I had a laundry list of sights I wanted to visit. But first, I hoped to find the perfect hotel to set the right tone. Much like Lizzie Bennet and Mr. Darcy, the Biltmore Mayfair, LXR Hotels & Resorts turned out to be my perfect match.
Just as the U.K. reopened to vaccinated travelers a few months ago, the Biltmore Mayfair also reopened to guests. The hotel was previously the Millennium Hotel London Mayfair but underwent an extensive £50 million ($68.8 million) renovation before becoming part of Hilton's luxurious LXR label in September 2019.
It sits right on stately Grosvenor Square in the heart of Mayfair, and is an elegant place to stay during your trip to London — whether you're there to visit its iconic attractions or simply to peruse the upscale boutiques along Bond Street.
London boasts one of the world's busiest hotel markets, and it can be an overwhelming feat to pick just one. Much like a double-decker bus threading through Piccadilly Circus, however, the Biltmore Mayfair manages to navigate the fine line between style and over-the-top excess.
I was curious to see how the hotel embodied Hilton's promise that its LXR Hotels & Resorts brand would "[deliver] a singular travel experience native to its place, history and tradition."
After all, there are now LXR outposts in Japan, the Seychelles and the U.S.; so how would a London one measure up? And how would it compare to Hilton's other luxury brands like Waldorf Astoria and Conrad?
Surprisingly well — especially given its higher price point — as I found out on my visit.
The Biltmore Mayfair is located directly on Grosvenor Square. If you're flying into Heathrow (LHR), it's about a 30- to 45-minute drive and around $45 to $60 using a ride-hailing app. The Heathrow Express takes under 45 minutes and will cost you about $35. From Gatwick (LGW), expect a 60- to 75-minute drive. Alternatively, the Biltmore Mayfair is located nearby Bond Street and Green Park stations if you're taking underground transport.
The Hilton Biltmore is a sizable property featuring 250 rooms and 57 suites. Room rates start around $450 per night, while suites start at $950. If you hold Hilton Honors Gold elite status (or higher) thanks to frequent stays or by carrying one of Hilton's cobranded credit cards, keep your fingers crossed for a complimentary upgrade.
While Hilton doesn't publish an official award chart, you can expect to pay between 90,000 and 95,000 Hilton Honors points per night for this property based on a search with the Hilton point explorer tool.
- Location, location, location — Walkers rejoice, you're just a few blocks away from some of London's grandest parks (including Hyde Park and Green Park), while tourists can check out the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace exactly 1 mile away.
- The above-and-beyond customer service. The front desk accommodated my request to check in six hours early as I took a red-eye from New York City — and I don't have any elite status with Hilton.
- Twice-daily housekeeping is a rarity these days when many hotels are ceasing free daily housekeeping altogether. You'll receive an in-room call asking if you want service, which I turned down for my two-night stay. However, I was asked if I needed any fresh towels or water in the meantime.
- Light sleepers and cat nappers will love how relaxing and dark these rooms are thanks to the heavy blackout curtains and crisp bed linens.
- The décor was dignified but not flashy, with purple, navy blue and gold hues reminding me that I was in the land of royalty. Seating is plentiful in guest rooms, and I especially loved the velvet couch at the foot of the bed.
- The so-called courtyard views from standard rooms were a bit drab, but you can see the Café Biltmore (the hotel's restaurant) from above. If you're looking for a more exciting panorama, be sure to book a room that specifically advertises views of Grosvenor Square.
- Both the cash price and points rate can be astronomical (at least $450 or 90,000 points per night), though this would be an excellent opportunity for you to use a free-night certificate from the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card.
- The menus for in-room dining and the on-site restaurant were ultra-limited, so it's best to venture beyond the property for food and drinks. Luckily, there are excellent nearby restaurants and pubs such as Lucky Cat by Gordon Ramsey, the tony Connaught Bar for classic cocktails and Three Tuns pub for hearty bar grub.
The information for the Hilton Honors Aspire has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.
The hotel bellhop gave the impression he'd been waiting just for me to arrive, and he eagerly took my luggage as soon as I got to the building.
Entering the lobby felt like arriving at the cocktail party in "The Great Gatsby" thanks to the hotel's art deco accents and patterns, and a dramatic, icicle-like glass chandelier casting its light upon a floral arrangement of magnificent lilies. The fresh flowers rotate every week, I learned, bringing the ambiance of those famous English gardens indoors.
Everywhere you looked, expectant attendants were on hand to help with everything from luggage and directions to restaurant suggestions and shopping tips.
Overall, the feel was upscale without being stuffy and seemed geared toward leisure visitors who were there for a luxury shopping spree (or, if you're like me, just the window shopping!) rather than business travelers in town on urgent matters.
After coming off a red-eye, I was really looking forward to unwinding in my room, which wasn't your standard European-size (read: minuscule) accommodation. The king deluxe room I booked was spacious and felt as if I had I own petite-penthouse in London.
Standard rooms start around 237 to 300 square feet (mine was on the larger end of that range) and are well-designed for two guests, from the his-and-hers closet to the two plush bathrobes in the bathroom.
The room's high ceilings let in plenty of (admittedly gray) London light. But even the leaden skies couldn't dampen the jewel-toned upholstery of the burgundy armchair or the Savoy blue love seat at the end of the bed, nor the gorgeous headboard, which had a flowering tree motif overlaid with an antiqued mirroring effect.
For me, it was all in the extra amenities, too. If you forgot your U.K. plug adapter, there was one USB plug on either side of the bed and one U.S. plug adapter above the work desk. Of course, London is known for its rainy days, and for those, there was a large umbrella in the closet. The Nespresso machine was a welcome sight since I needed a little caffeine to perk me up for the day, and I could have had my own in-room tea party thanks to the electric kettle and accompanying teacups.
The bathroom felt just as spacious as the bedroom and was sparklingly clean, with what felt like more marble than the Parthenon. The palatial shower was a saving grace after my overnight flight and I took my time luxuriating under the enormous showerhead. There were Penhaligons of London Quercus bath products and an array of amenities, including a vanity kit and travel-sized mouthwash.
Food and drink
The only disappointing aspect of my stay was the food and drink. For a hotel of this size and caliber, it was almost shocking how dull the in-room dining menu was, with only three main courses: The beef burger, cod or a margherita pizza. While the pizza was tasty enough, the burger came with an unappetizing tomato relish that ruined it for me.
What's more, the prices were rather high, even by hotel standards. I paid almost $60 for these two dishes.
Instead, you can visit the Cafe Biltmore Restaurant and Terrace for more intriguing fare, like Cornish sea bream with red pepper and pine nut caponata over aubergine puree ($38), or grilled Cumbrian pork with pumpkin fregola and garlic crisps ($35).
I was also sorry to have missed the full afternoon tea service ($62) at The Tea Lounge. It only operates on weekends, and I was there on weekdays, so I did not get to taste dainties by celebrity chef Jason Atherton like peach, apricot and elderflower tart. The hotel's Pine Bar is opening on Nov. 4, but it was not yet in operation during my stay.
Amenities and service
The reception agents managed to make check-in feel both professional and relaxed, inviting me to sit in a comfortable velvet chaise while they carried out the formalities of scanning my passport and credit card, then walking me through the hotel's amenities. They were even accommodating enough to find me an open room, though I'd arrived at 9 a.m., so that I could settle in right away.
As for facilities, the hotel gym was impressive, designed for travelers who want to keep up their fitness regimen. There was plenty of cardio and strength training equipment (albeit no Peloton for cycling fanatics), fresh towels and a fridge stocked with both still and sparkling water. I was able to get in a quick strength training session with plenty of machines to choose from, though I ditched the treadmill for a walk through the city's notable nearby parks instead.
Out and about
The hotel's location is the main selling point of the Biltmore Mayfair thanks to its close proximity to major tourist attractions like Buckingham Palace as well as some of the city's most beautiful green spaces.
If walking isn't your thing, there were plenty of cabs that drove by the hotel, so getting a lift anywhere on short notice was not an issue. Some of my favorite memories from this trip included enjoying the delightful fall weather in Hyde Park (and even catching a sunny day!) and strolling by the endless shops on Regent Street, and popping into the restaurants and pubs on Bond Street, which is no more than a 10- to 15-minute walk from the hotel.
For a dose of culture, along with people (and pigeon) watching, The National Gallery and Trafalgar Square are just a mile away.
Though the hotel's main entrance has steps, the back entrance is wheelchair accessible and connects to the restaurant and other hotel facilities. From there, you won't encounter any more stairs. In the lobby, there were two elevators, and the hallways and king deluxe room are both wide enough to accommodate wheelchairs. Guests can even book the twin superior accessible room that's equipped with a roll-in shower with no glass panels (curtains only) and a shower seat.
The Biltmore Mayfair provided the perfect backdrop for my first trip to London. While nightly rates are steep, the amenities would seem to justify them, and you're paying for the central location of this neighborhood along with convenient access to many of the city's sights.
I could see the value of this stay increase tenfold if you're able to score a suite upgrade with your Hilton Honors elite status or if you could use your free weekend night certificate here.