Imagine never having to pack a suitcase again. Throw a few essentials into your handbag and travel to your hotel hands-free, safe in the knowledge that on checking in you’ll find your suite has been prepped in advance with rails of designer clothes handpicked for you by a personal stylist, to suit your stay’s every sartorial requirement.
It’s how most pop stars and Hollywood actors travel, but up until now the rest of us have been resigned to wondering how many pairs of jeans or changes of shoes one could possibly need over a weekend and cramming them all into cabin baggage along with a gym kit, little black dress and more pairs of socks than there are days in the week ‘just in case’.
What a treat then it was to arrive at London’s Hotel Café Royal to find that my room had been decked out with perfectly curated options for me to wear for dinner that evening, and out and about in London the next day all courtesy of the luxury online retailer Matchesfashion.com.
One of the hotel’s suites stockpiled with a collection of clothing especially chosen by Matchesfashion.com stylists
I had turned up with a make-up bag and underwear, confident that an earlier 30-minute phone consultation with a friendly Matches stylist would mean everything had been organised.
They had even decked out my suite’s dressing room with a ‘micro’ edit of two fully formed outfits and accessories, and placed Gucci shoes, Yves Saint Laurent handbags and Balenciaga scarves for me to choose from on the room’s marble dining table (a pleasing nod to Matches’ own marble packaging).
The in-suite private consultation and shopping service is available to anyone staying in a Regent Suite and above — these sell from £1,500 per night. The service itself is completely free of charge and there is no obligation to purchase, though of course if a guest falls for an item they can buy it to keep then and there.
Hotel Café Royal occupies a grand curve of Piccadilly Circus, right by the recently revamped lights. In 1865 when it opened, John Nash’s sweeping, colonnaded terrace made quite a splash, and the building continues to show off its assets anew following its complete modernisation five years ago. This new partnership should provide another reason to stay for style-conscious travellers keen to plunder the boutiques that line Regent and Bond Street.
The Dome Penthouse
While the full consultation and in-room styling session is only available to those staying in one of the 15 beautiful categories of suite (Rihanna apparently favours the Dome Penthouse, with its giant freestanding green marble tub), a more accessible element of the partnership is called Fashion Now. Every single guest at the hotel will be able to shop from the Matchesfashion.com website and have the items delivered to their room in just 90 minutes.
I imagine the service has proved invaluable, if expensive, to guests whose luggage has failed to show up after a flight. With 450 brands to choose from on the site in menswear and womenswear — from established luxury fashion houses such as Dior to up-and-coming new designers such as Racil — there will be something to satiate every style, dress code or whim.
And those in a rush can simply give their sizes to the hotel concierge and choose from ‘Activewear’, ‘Evening wear’ or ‘Business wear’ (Men or Women) to receive a full outfit for those activities within 90 minutes. These are individually priced.
Forgot your Christmas cocktail attire? It can be delivered to the hotel within 90 minutes
My own experience with the company’s styling team was positive. I was extremely impressed by how spot-on the selection of looks pulled for me were. I’d given the stylists a few brands I like, and a general overview of my style along with some things to avoid — floral and print mainly.
But it was through trawling my Instagram account (along with a peek into my previous Matchesfashion.com purchases) that the styling team had really got a sense for what I liked to wear.
The company has long been known for its innovative collaborations and forward-thinking view of how and why people shop online, bringing the experience alive in its bricks and mortar shops in Marylebone, Notting Hill and Wimbledon, while serving 55 million visitors online.
It’s a winning retail formula and one which meant the husband and wife duo behind the brand, Tom and Ruth Chapman, recently sold the business for £400 million while maintaining a £150 million stake.
The Ten Room restaurant
I chose a Racil tuxedo jacket, Gucci loafers and a Saint Laurent clutch to wear for dinner in the hotel’s Ten Room restaurant which was buzzy and unpretentious on a Friday night. I ordered a delicious, simply prepared Dover Sole with truffle mashed potato and a very OTT chocolate dessert.
While I had my outfit planned for the next day — Frame Jeans and a white, high-necked cashmere sweater from The Row — it was good to know I could call Matches back in the morning for a gym kit to be delivered.
Room rates at Hotel Café Royal (020 7406 3333) start from £440 per night; suites start from £1,500 per night. The Matchesfashion.com partnership will continue to run throughout 2018.