West London is full of hotels – does The Kensington deserve to up there with the best of them? Rosie Paterson went along to take a look.
I can hardly accuse London of a shortage of hotels – but recommending somewhere to get some shut-eye, to visiting friends and family, always seems to prove problematic.
Bizarrely, I can rattle off a list of charming, boutique boltholes in Paris, Venice and New York (despite a singular, fleeting visit to the latter), but back on home soil only the Grand-Dames spring to mind.
Occupying a regal townhouse in the museum-rich area of South Kensington, the hotel boasts 150 rooms, including 24 suites. Its size, however, does little to ruin the intimate and exclusive atmosphere.
All the rooms have been decked out in differing but uplifting colour palettes and there’s a series of equally stylish, communal spaces downstairs. Including a restaurant – The Town House – a bar and several cosy seating areas.
Back to bed: the bedrooms are seriously spacious, especially given the hotel’s central location and all come with a well stocked mini bar – something our cousins across the pond perfected a long time ago – Aromatherapy Associates toiletries, complimentary bottled water and oodles of natural light.
Located on the second floor, overlooking Queen’s Gate (don’t worry, several layers of glazing meant it was blissfully quiet) the centrepiece of our room was a dramatic four-poster bed with foxed, mirrored headboard.
Food: The Town House
The jewel in The Kensington’s shiny crown is The Town House, a hotel restaurant that was a surprising delight and well worth visiting, whether you’re a guest at the hotel or not. (There’s a separate, discreet entrance for locals, if you don’t fancy a walk through the hotel.)
Recently renovated, The Town House is available for all-day dining. We sat down for supper, starting with aubergine moutabal and a seared tuna dish served with soy and ginger dressing. The latter was fantastically fresh and the flavours in the dressing expertly balanced—a standout dish that comes highly recommended.
As well as a well-curated selection of mains — simple but beautifully presented and delicious British favourites, such as shepherd’s pie or whole Dover sole — there’s the option to order from the Josper Grill. We plumped for dry-aged beef fillet and a generous portion of rosemary salted sweet potato chips.
Having a drink: The K Bar
Adjacent to The Town House you’ll find K Bar. It’s a cosy spot with panelled walls and colonial-slash-Gentleman’s club décor, a pleasing contrast to the calming neutrals next door. It was busy on the Saturday night that we visited, with tables taken up by couples, families and small groups. Always a good sign.
Just like the mini bar, service at The Kensington has taken its cue from America. Friendly and super-efficient, we were offered a delicious juice upon arrival (pomegranate, apple, beets and mint leaves) and the services of a concierge, who can recommend a myriad activities and excursions and help book tickets to nearby exhibitions and shows.
A standard room at The Kensington from £235 (020-7589 6300; www.doylecollection.com/hotels/the-kensington-hotel)
Inspired by HRH Prince Henry of Wales and Ms Meghan Markle’s wedding, The Kensington is hosting a series of master classes open to both the public and hotel guests. Classes include a calligraphy lesson and how to become ‘The Hostess with the Mostess.’ The latter run by Dani Tucker, founder of The Social Kitchen. The Royal Masterclasses start from £35 per person.
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