But finally, at the end of January, the Four Seasons nudged the doors ajar for a soft opening. If one were to judge on looks alone, the answer would be an emphatic yes.
Expressly built as the port’s outré HQ in the 1920s – meant to demonstrate London’s dominance of trade – it was badly damaged in the Blitz, and latterly took on a less glamorous role as the European HQ for an international insurance broker.
In 2007, the building was bought with the intention of converting it into a hotel. Restoration had to be halted every time something of archaeological interest got dug up – which was often, given that the Romans started Londinium around here, and excavations to strengthen the original foundations kept turning up millennia-old treats.
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Walk through that classic colonnaded entrance and you’re met by the Rotunda, a fabulous Art Deco domed ceiling that keeps the ambience set at “impossibly grand”.
Look closer and this is your first taste of the hotel’s “East meets West” design philosophy: the Rotunda’s white walls are moulded with motifs representing earth, water, fire and air, and circles (an important shape in Chinese culture) crop up throughout.
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We are so spoiled for magnificent old buildings in London that it’s all too easy for a masterpiece to go unnoticed – as proven to me by the Four Seasons Ten Trinity Square.
The hotel chain has set up shop in the former Port of London Authority HQ at Tower Hill – a domed and colonnaded 1920s limestone Beaux-Arts creation, which stunned me not only with its flagrant grandiosity, but also the fact that, in a decade of living here, I’d never once clocked it sitting next to the Tower of London. Perhaps an absence of purpose doomed Ten Trinity Square to invisibility.
Back in the day when Geoff Smeddle, now chef-proprietor at the marvellous Michelin-starred Peat Inn, was behind the stove at Terence Conran’s restaurant on the top floor, Etain, the food was wonderful, a relaxed but nevertheless professionally accomplished brasserie serving classics.