Since most flights to Europe leave the East Coast in the evening, and only run around seven or eight hours, British Airways has come up with a clever plan to help their business- and first-class guests get as much sleep on their flights as possible: Guests can have a proper dinner in the airport’s lounge, and go to sleep onboard immediately after takeoff. If they want to stay awake, there are snacks and drinks available, but for those who just want to get a good night’s rest, it’s a great option.
Before heading off to London, I returned to the British Airways lounge at JFK’s Terminal 7. It was just as I remembered it from May, but this time I tried two things I missed last time: I stopped by the complimentary Elemis spa for a 15-minute back, neck and shoulders massage, which Joe, my therapist, executed very deftly. (A sitting-up massage through clothing is very different from a full lie-down massage, however, so while it's certainly worth trying, make sure your clients know what they need before you make an appointment for them.)
I also checked out the Sleeper Service dining room, where I had what may well be the best chicken tikka masala I’ve ever tried: full of vegetables rather than sauce, and very flavorful. When the flight boarded, the business class section of the plane (called Club World) was arranged in a strange honeycomb formation that has half of the guests seated backwards. Privacy screens are nice, but when all of them are up each little “suite” can become a little claustrophobic. But the flat beds were comfortable, and we landed much earlier than expected. (The pilot might have mentioned something about flying at 700 miles per hour, but I may have just dreamed that.)
We headed right over to the brand-new Four Seasons Park Lane, where our rooms were not yet ready, so we relaxed in the hotel’s unique dining facility, Amaranto. The space contains a bar, a lounge and a traditional restaurant, but all menus are available at all spaces, so if guests want a full meal at the bar or just cocktails in the restaurant, they can get what they want. (And the scrambled eggs were delicious. I’ve heard good things about their homemade porridge, too. Must try that in the morning.)
Finally, I was brought up to room 229, a one-bedroom suite. I’ve frequently quipped that bathrooms of hotels I stay in are larger than my first apartment in New York, but this is the first time I’ve stayed in a hotel room with a terrace that’s as large as my current apartment in New York. The bathroom is its own suite of rooms, with the toilet and the dressing room/closet tucked away behind doors for privacy, and a separate shower and tub.
And as for the terrace…It’s too cold for me to explore right now, but in summer, it would be ideal for a corporate event or small party.
Rather than get a tour of the other suites and popular spots, general manager John Stauss took us behind the scenes to the security offices (huge TV screens with closed-caption monitors), the kitchen (one of the few in London with a window for the outside world to peer through), the wine cellar (every wine can be ordered by the glass), the tenth-floor spa (killer views) and up to the top floor, which holds a large portion of the hotel’s air and water filtration systems. (The building is remarkably eco-friendly, with recycled heat and highly-filtered air.) We ended up back at the Amaranto bar, where Manager Davide Guidi let us sample some of his unique libations. (Word to the wise: Any drink that involves infused bourbon and/or rhubarb liquor is a must-try.)
Tomorrow: I meet with seven Four Seasons GMs over the course of two hours, and then tour Westminster Abbey.