In the late 1800s, novelist Walter Besant put pen to paper and wrote of Mayfair: "I've been walking about London for the last 30 years, and I find something fresh in it every day." His sentiments ring as true today as they did then. Despite the glitz, glamour and tradition, London's most affluent quarter continues to evolve - and there's no better embodiment of its ability to adapt than The Twenty Two.
Yes, yes. Another fancy development in a fancy neighbourhood. What's so fresh about that? We'd argue that this Grosvenor Square bolthole brings a touch of youth to Mayfair's silver-haired streets. Despite its grand, grey Portland stone facade, the newly opened hotel is attempting to entice London's well-heeled spring chickens back to a district that - of late - has been overrun by poe-faced diplomats and tweed-clad peers of the realm.
The hotel entrance, left, and ecclectic bedroom interiors from Natalia Miyar.
There are still private members' clubs aplenty dotted around this postcode, but The Twenty Two has laid down its intentions: a little more accessible, a little less formal. The duo behind the space - Navid Mirtorabi and Jamie Reuben - pulled in the expertise of the mastermind behind Chiltern Firehouse and Annabel's to help with the finessing - and it shows. Interiors lean into the old-world heritage of the Edwardian property, pairing Mario Testino cool with 1920s good times in a blend of simplicity and flair. Sure, there are unisex loos, no dress codes and not a white glove in sight, but it still feels exclusive, and true to the neighbourhood's panache. Rooms are also open to the public and overnight travellers can access all the club's amenities, doing away with any old guards hogging the bar, or nabbing the best armchairs. It's expensive and exclusive - of course - but feels excitingly new.
There are 31, ranging from snug attic spaces to spacious double-height suites - all with a distinctive nod in design to Paris' 19th-century Empire style. We were in a deluxe room for the night, which featured classical Napoleonic styling courtesy of architect-turned-designer Natalia Miyar. Our bunkmate called it "a bit like falling asleep inside Grandma's handbag" (in a good way). It's a delightful combination of intricate floral design against the simple luxury of crisp bed sheets with the distant hubbub of central London murmuring along in the background. The bathroom was a monochrome masterpiece - if Cruella de Vil had turned her hand to interior design rather than fur coats, it would look like this: black, white and fabulous.
A Cruella de Vil-style bathroom, left, and one of the double-height suites.
What's for breakfast?
Available Monday to Friday is a generous breakfast menu of classics, from eggs all ways to a full English. The smoothies and shakes are a highlight.
Lunch and dinner
Helmed by executive chef Alan Christie, the downstairs, powder-blue dining room is set to join our regular rotation of restaurant favourites. Offering modern British fare, with a touch of Med sunshine, the menu offers small sharing morsels (oysters with a fennel mignonette, crispy artichokes dipped in herb mayo), a seafood-slanted selection of starters (paprika-dusted grilled octopus, anyone?) and larger sharing dishes, alongside a sumptuous main course offering.
We opted for polenta chips to start (with an aubergine ketchup dip), then ventured onto crab linguine and a classic Dover sole meunière, paired with a crunchy riesling.
The dining room is intimate - enough to catch snippets of conversation and do a spot of people-watching (our vice). We'd avoid retelling any juicy secrets around here - spies might long have removed themselves from the Grosvenor Square space, but this is the kind of place the Tatler tattlers are sure to frequent.
Is there a bar?
Several. The hotel has a private members' club split across the ground and lower-ground floors of the property, which features four exclusive spaces reserved for patrons (and hotel guests) only. There's The Living Room, which overlooks Grosvenor Square and has an outdoor terrace; The Dining Room; The Music Room - a leopard-print-carpeted, moodily lit discotheque; and The Vault Bar, just off the lobby.
Your suite will have a minibar stocked with artisan kombucha and there's a 24/7 room service offering (lobster rolls at 4am are just a phone call away).
What are the hotel's eco credentials like?
We couldn't see anything on the website - and they weren't shouting about anything industry-leading on our visit.
What about accessibility?
It's a large London townhouse, which means narrow doorways and plenty of stairs. There are lifts, but it's not the easiest property to move around - something to bear in mind.
What's the crowd like?
Sociable and sophisticated - a new generation of Sloanes.
Within a short walk I can find…
The Americans may have moved out, but Grosvenor Square hasn't stood still. There are opulent hotels popping up left, right and centre, the wallet-stretching streets of Mayfair are on your doorstep (with Le Gavroche, Claridge's and ROKA Mayfair all down the road) and Hyde Park is just a five-minute walk away. If you're seeking a glamorous bolthole from which to enjoy London's most affluent quarter, this is it.
Things I should know…
It's pet-friendly, so preened pooches can travel with you.