February 2024

Want to dine with Concorde? Now you can

Hannah Ralph 2019
Hannah Ralph


Take a Hong Kong hotelier with a passion for aviation and a French chef who practically collects Michelin stars, put them in London’s latest five-star, and what do you get? Brooklands by Claude Bosi – a sky-skimming restaurant in the new Peninsula London hotel that celebrates the golden age of travel. But is it worth the price tag? Let’s find out… 

When it comes to high-end hotel design, personality is often the first thing to go. It’s why, for decades now, some of the world’s grandest properties have served up exceptionally pleasant, but impressively vibe-less flagship restaurants. Heavy curtains, chandeliers trying to out-dazzle Versailles, crisp white tablecloths. 

This is not what to expect at the – as of this month, two-Michelin-starred – Brooklands by Claude Bosi at the Peninsula London.

Positioned on the hotel’s eighth floor, overlooking Wellington Arch and Hyde Park, the restaurant’s supercharged personality derives directly from the niche passions of its head honcho – group chairman, Sir Michael Kadoorie. 

Kadoorie, being of the ‘boys and their toys’ persuasion, first fell in love with Brooklands Race Circuit – from which the restaurant derives its name – during a visit in the 1970s. Since then, he’s been chasing the chance to celebrate what is now the UK’s premier transport museum, and this – the first British hotel in the group’s 157-year-old history – was his golden ticket. 

Brooklands may be known as the world’s first purpose-built motor racing circuit, but it was just as committed to breaking records in the sky as it was on the tarmac. The location, as Kadoorie can tell you, has been inextricably linked to Concorde since the aircraft’s inception. Go there today and you can poke around BAC Concorde G-BBDG in the museum’s grounds, all part of its popular Concorde Experience. Rewind to 1961, and you would have found French and British aircraft industry reps in the same spot, gathering to discuss the project that would go on to change the face of aviation forever. 


A Concorde model is suspended from the ceiling of the main dining room

Walking into the restaurant, it’ll be the first thing you spot: an overhead scale-model of everyone’s favourite supersonic airliner, pinned to the ceiling. The 48ft-long and 2,700lb alloy sculpture bounces light from the tall glass windows during the day. At night, tiny LEDs light up the sleek lines of its belly. You’ll notice the carpet beneath – an inky-blue map of the constellations, positioned as they would have been seen from the plane itself. Around you, servers are kitted out in airline-style uniforms, but from an altogether more glamorous time, when pre-flight Champagne was drunk on Corbusier chaise-longues and celebrity patrons mingled with pilots before service. 

Your visual feast, however, starts long before you make it here. Downstairs in the lobby, circular windows on the doors mimic their friends at 35,000 feet. A Concorde nose cone (from Kadoorie’s private collection) juts from the ceiling. The Napier Railton race car, which still holds the land speed record from Brooklands in 1935, shines under a spotlight. The lift joyfully mimics a hot-air balloon heading skyward, decked out in wicker and a flickering orange light. Either side of it, a pair of lights fashioned from vintage Bentleys.


The Brooklands Bar

“I think I like the old Bentley memorabilia the most,” chef Claude Bosi – a Frenchman whose starry career here in Britain perfectly typifies Concorde’s French-Anglo identity – tells us from the eighth floor. “My father-in-law builds Bentleys, so for so long now these cars have been all around me. Now, I get to cook among them.”

Bosi’s favourite Bentley nods, however, can be spotted at the Brooklands Bar, which enjoys the same city views and impressive commitment to the theme as the main restaurant just across the hall. Do take some time here – sit by the window, leaf through the cocktail menu (where booze strength is denoted by various Machs – Mach 3 being the strongest), and savour the glittering views all the way out to the London Eye. 

Take a walk and you’ll find glassy exhibits dedicated to Brooklands’ triumphs, not to mention a giant telescope, lit by Moulin Rouge-red Lucas racing lights dotted around the walls. Speaking of which, this is where you’ll find myriad vintage airline posters (walk the corridors near the bathrooms for some of the finest examples of Imperial Airways’ heyday of marketing). Look up from your table and you might spy a silver BEA plane from acclaimed British modeller Alan Clark, but what you can’t miss is the ceiling: a geodetic lattice to echo the kind used in the fuselage of Vickers Wellington bombers, or the glass chandelier, fanned out in replica Rolls-Royce jet engine blades.


Chef Claude Bosi

Bosi may not have flown Concorde himself (“I’m too young!” he protests), but that doesn’t dampen his appreciation for the supersonic theme. “The level of detail here is just unbelievable – from the Concorde napkin pins to the original pilot seats in the dining room, every item and design point has been so carefully considered.” But at the end of the day, this is a restaurant, and no level of décor can compensate for poor grub. Luckily, this menu is stratospherically successful –particularly the dishes marked ‘CB’ – Bosi’s signatures.

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These include the sweet, fishy, rich pebble that is Bosi’s Exmoor caviar with Roscoff onion and duck jelly dish, which took him three years to develop. “It’s a dish close to my heart –everything about it is perfect to me,” he says.

There’s also a celeriac Nosotto (risotto without the rice – an invention trademarked by Bosi) flavoured with crab and coconut, and a savoury-ish cep dessert, sweetened with crème fraîche. Bosi’s fascinating dishes don’t come cheap, though –three courses (excluding some small, culinary surprises) start at £145, while five-course and seven-course tasting menus are £175 and £195 respectively. But not only are you paying for exceptional food, plating and service – you’re paying for that ingredient so often missing: personality. The subtle clouds on the tablecloth, the replica pieces from the original Concorde lounge, the vintage levers on the side of your banquette, to be gently pulled when more cocktails are required. Most of all, you’re paying for the chance to feel as if you’re a Concorde VIP – even if you never got to fly on the real thing.

This article has been tagged Food + Drink, Hotels