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Meet the luxury hotel expert: Charles Oak, hotel director of The Londoner

We chat with Oak about the exciting launch of his new super boutique hotel in London’s West End.

By Ina Yulo Stuve  |  November 10, 2021
charles oak

It’s a glorious day as we step onto the rooftop terrace of one of the capital’s newest openings. As the world’s first super boutique hotel, The Londoner towers over the West End with 16 storeys, 350 luxury rooms and suites, a spa, a gym, private screening rooms, a ballroom, and multiple dining options. We take a tour of the hotel and I’m in awe at how despite the scale of it all, the team manages to create a strong community vibe.

As we enjoy nibbles of wagyu and lobster from the hotel’s rooftop bar, 8 at The Londoner, hotel director Charles Oak tells our group of journalists about all the work that went into the much-awaited launch. He shares how excited he is about taking on the 600-person team, the sustainability focus that sits at the heart of the business, and the next-generation experience that the Preferred Hotels and Resorts’ Legend Collection member has to offer its guests.

“How could I not?” says Oak, when I ask him why he decided to take on the new role at The Londoner, despite already having an admirable track record at The Carnegie club at Skibo Castle, The Savoy, and Gleneagles, among others. “London has never seen anything like The Londoner, it is art, theatre, architecture, hospitality and much, much more all under one roof. To not be involved in it was never even a consideration.”

the londoner exterior
London’s first super boutique hotel The Londoner towers over the West End. Image credit: Adrian Houston

I speak with Oak about how The Londoner is transcending our idea of what luxury hospitality is and get an understanding of what it takes to launch and run a super boutique hotel.

London is known to have some of the top hotels in the world. What was the gap, and in turn, the opportunity, that the Edwardian Hotels London group identified when deciding to launch The Londoner?

London is without doubt the home of some of the world’s most beautiful hotels, The Londoner doesn’t detract from that, what it does do is enhance the leisure offering. It provides the first urban resort, a place where you can check-in Friday and leave Monday and still not have exhausted all the hotel has on offer.

Over the past year and a half, the West End has had to dim its lights and wait for the world to open up again. What do you think The Londoner brings to the area’s period of revival?

Benjamin Franklin once said, “Out of adversity comes opportunity”, and such is the position the West End and Leicester Square now find themselves in. Leicester Square has been at the heart of London’s culture and art scene for over 350 years, so we wanted The Londoner to reflect this in every possible way. From the curated art throughout the hotel, to the live music and wealth of dining options, The Londoner brings further allure to the area and reiterates it as a destination for both visitors and Londoners.

the londoner rooftop bar
8 at The Londoner is the hotel’s decadent rooftop izakaya lounge. Image credit: Andrew Beasley

The Londoner is in a class of its own as a ‘super boutique hotel’. What exactly can guests expect when staying at the property?

A boutique hotel is a hotel that has intimate and individual spaces with attention to detail and has brought its local environment within the hotel. The Londoner is a boutique hotel on a supersized scale. Set across 16 storeys, including 350 bedrooms, six unique restaurants and bars, screening rooms, ballroom, urban spa retreat, and The Residence – a collection of three beautifully-designed spaces just for hotel residents – guests can expect to discover something previously unseen and intriguing at every turn. They are also able to experience British luxury in its truest form -understated, on point, and providing consistent world-class service that is tailored to each individual guest.

You have experience running private members’ clubs and one big part of The Londoner’s launch is the guests-only space, The Residence. Could you tell me more about the decision behind this?

I have always liked the idea that being a guest in a hotel should provide something more than room access and the differential between a resident and an external visitor. People like exclusivity, not everyone will be a member of a private club during their life but for the duration of your stay with us, you will enjoy that very experience. Your room key opens up a whole host of ‘extras’ – it’s about making guests feel special, recognised, and appreciated.

the londoner penthouse
The Londoner boasts 350 luxury rooms and suites, including the stunning Penthouse Suite. Image credit: Andrew Beasley

After my visit to the property, I can see how easy it is to not want to leave! If a guest was planning to spend an entire day at the hotel, what type of morning-to-night itinerary would you suggest for them?

Indeed, you could quite easily spend the whole day here! I would recommend taking a morning dip in the pool at The Retreat, followed by a decadent Champagne breakfast at The Stage. A restorative body treatment or massage is then best complemented by a healthy lunch at Refuel, our superfood clinic.

The afternoon can be spent reading, playing board games, or relaxing in The Residence, which is also the perfect place for a pre-dinner cocktail. Unless a pub is more your vibe, in which case I would suggest Joshua’s Tavern, where we also host regular live music performances. A dinner of French Mediterranean cuisine is enjoyed at Whitcomb’s, followed by post-dinner drinks up in 8 at The Londoner, our rooftop lounge.

If you could pick one song to play during the opening scene for a movie on your life, what would it be?

Shostakovich’s Chamber Symphony. It is very dramatic and emotional, and feeds into my history obsession as it’s based on the bombing of Dresden.

Now that we’re travelling again, where are you headed for your next holiday?

Île de Ré, without doubt. It is a chic and discreet island off the west coast of France.

Do you have a favourite West End show?

Bizarrely, my favourite musical I have never seen live, West Side Story. Of the shows I have seen, I would have to say RENT.

When not at the hotel, what is your favourite restaurant in London for catching up with friends?

London has so many great restaurants and more opening every day. But I would have to say Randall & Aubin in Soho would be my favourite, but more for sentimental reasons than anything else. It’s where I met my partner and influenced the names of my beloved two Jack Russells!

Factbox

The Londoner, a member of Preferred Hotels & Resorts

Address: 38 Leicester Square, London WC2H 7DX
Phone: 020 7451 0101
Website: thelondoner.com