If preliminary reports are to be trusted, it’s looking like London may soon join the likes of Dubai in not only the quantity but the quality of its top hotels. New hotels have been coming down the pipeline thick and fast in anticipation of the London Olympics in 2012, and we’ve had announcements of the W London Leicester Square, the St. Pancras Renaissance (including a renovation of the ‘Ladies Smoking Room’, the first place in Europe where women could smoke in public), The Dorchester’s 45 Park Lane, Sol Melia’s ME Hotel (designed by Norman Foster) and Aloft London ExCel (largely unrelated to the spreadsheet program but no doubt utilising it somewhere along the line).

The Wellesley, though, despite the modest prospective façade (see above) adapted from a former tube station, is rumoured to be the most luxurious of them all, and London’s first six star hotel. Theoretically, of course, that would make it one star better than all of the amazing-looking properties listed above, as well as other notable lights such as the Ritz and the Savoy.

Among the first questions to arise upon hearing this news is ‘what exactly makes this place so special?’ After all, at a certain level it becomes difficult to even conceive of the ever-escalating levels of luxury involved. At the Savoy, for example, you stay in an amazingly comfortable, beautifully decorated mansion in the centre of London where everything is done for you. Practically-speaking, how much more can you add to that before things start getting silly? A private swimming pool, harem or spaceship? At least one Vegas hotel offers a service where you can have wine poured into your mouth by a beautiful woman abseiling down the side of the building, but even that place is only 5 stars. How can the Wellesley top it?

Well, it will have London’s largest suite, with four rooms, a private lift and a view over Hyde Park. In fact, the Wellesley is all-suite, with no single rooms on offer. There will be a restaurant serving Italian food, a bar with live jazz and Britain’s largest bespoke humidor (cigar and tobacco shop).

So, it doesn’t sound like too much and certainly not the kind of mind-boggling splendour that shifts the playing field for Britain’s entire hotel industry. Although construction is almost complete on this most promising of Knightsbridge hotels, no operator has yet been found to run the place. How can they be so sure that they’re destined for six stars?

The answer is that they can’t be sure at all. There are a few hotels in the world described as six star, and at least three claiming to be seven star (The Emirates Palace in Abu Dhabi, the Burj al Arab in Dubai and perhaps most luxurious of all the Town House Galleria in Milan, where all guests get a butler, a Bentley and a room to transform into whatever they want). Ultimately, though, these are no more than claims. There is no centralised global body awarding hotel stars, so standards may vary slightly between countries. However, no official certification board in ANY country awards more than five stars. Six and seven star hotels are unarguably the cream of the crop, but their certifications are a self-invented marketing tool.

That said, the Wellesley is no doubt going to be the jewel in the crown of Knightsbridge hotels, and you shouldn’t let anyone stop you from expecting the best. Just be aware that for your harem, you may have to go elsewhere.