Three wealthy tourists who had been on a shopping spree have been bludgeoned by a hammer-wielding attacker who sneaked into their hotel room in the middle of the night.
A lone white man managed to get into the room on the seventh floor of the four-star Cumberland Hotel near Marble Arch in London's West End in the early hours of yesterday morning.
When one of the women woke up, he attacked her with the hammer, and then turned on the two other victims, fleeing the hotel in bloodstained clothes.
It is understood that the trio, who are all from the United Arab Emirates, had deliberately left their door unlocked because they were staying in hotel as part of a large family group.
They were sleeping with three children, who were unharmed, in two adjoining rooms.
Detective Superintendent Carl Mehta said: "There is a detailed investigation going on. We are working very closely with the hotel staff and carrying out a detailed forensic examination both of the room as well as the surrounding area, an examination of CCTV both within as well as outside the hotel, and also identifying witnesses.
"That is a very crucial point for us, we are trying to establish the sequence of events and what happened. I really would appeal to anybody who saw, either in the hotel or in the vicinity of the hotel, somebody, a male, perhaps loitering around that they thought perhaps a little bit suspicious. Or if they saw somebody leave the hotel perhaps hurriedly, perhaps with some blood on their clothing, please come forward and contact the incident room urgently."
The wealthy family, who had come to London for shopping and sightseeing, arrived in the UK between April 3 and 5 and the women had visited large West End stores on Saturday.
Mr Mehta added: "Early indications are that theft appears to be the motive. We are yet to establish precisely what happened, but we are in close liaison with the family to establish what is missing from the room."
No keys were stolen from the hotel and police said there had been no breach of security at the venue. Detectives are now scouring CCTV to establish the movements of both the women and their attacker earlier in the day. The attacks are being treated as attempted murder.
The Cumberland Hotel is near Europe's busiest shopping street, Oxford Street, and has 1,000 rooms including a Jimi Hendrix suite.
A spokeswoman for London Ambulance Service said: "We were called to reports of an assault at Great Cumberland Place. We sent a responder in a car and three ambulance crews. Staff treated three patients, all women, and two were reported to be in their 30s.
"All patients were taken as priorities to hospital."
Robin Hibbert, head of operations at New West End Company, which represents businesses in the West End stressed that the attack was rare.
He said: "This is very much an isolated and extraordinary incident for London, one of the safest cities in the world.
"We have spoken with the hotel who are focused on providing support to the families involved as well as guests, many of whom are regular customers. We have been in discussion with the police and we support their urgent call for witnesses."