Regular readers will know that I’m pretty obsessed with beautiful hotels…holidays often involve snooping through other local luxury finds as well as enjoying the place that I’m staying in. But one thing I’m not a fan of is huge impersonal hotels, you know the ones…with about 5000 rooms, over crowded, totally lacking in personality and often poor value for money. Which is why I love Small Luxury Hotels of the World, a collection of independent and unique properties, small in size but big in personality. There are around 520 hand-picked hotels in the collection located all around the world, all carefully selected for their quirks and character traits.
An invitation to explore the Small Luxury Hotels in London couldn’t have been more perfect for me, and day of nosing around beautiful luxury hotels and enjoying their top food and drink offerings with fellow bloggers was basically a dream come true. And best of all at the end of the day I would have the opportunity to stay the night in one of these unique boutique hotels.
Our day of fun started with breakfast at The Arch London in their restaurant Hunter 486 with the opportunity to try the one of their healthy or more hearty options. The Arch gets it’s name from nearby Marble Arch but when you approach the hotel’s quiet enclave you could almost be outside London.
Porridge is my favourite way to start the day and I was able to customise my breakfast choice with a different variety of grain available, milk choice and toppings with the option of accompanying it with a fruit or vegetable smoothie or Jing Tea…I chose the less healthy option of a coffee instead though.
Arguably more exciting choices were Laura’s eggs royale…
And Laura from SLH’s full English. After enjoying our meals and washing them down with Bucks Fizz, we were ready to explore the hotel a little more. Though it is made up seven townhouses that date back to the 18th Century, the hotel is anything but old-fashioned. Modern artwork adorns the walls and there are stunning furniture pieces throughout, such as these original designer chairs by Tom Dixon located in the Bar area.
Equally beautiful and modern are the rooms.
Which feature sumptuous head boards, hand printed wallpaper and beautiful fabrics. The Arch is also well-known for featuring cutting edge technology and we were particularly impressed by the TV in the bathroom.
I’ve got a good reason to come back to this stylish contemporary hotel as I didn’t get to see the Martini Library which apparently has a ‘top-up’ button nor did I get to a glass of fizz at Le Salon de Champagne!
Our next stop was Dukes London, a hotel that I’ve visited before to try the restaurant, Thirty Six by Nigel Mendham. Dukes London has the ideal location for exploring the gorgeous historical area of St James and so after a refreshing smoothie, we did exactly that. Our guide Sandy Rhodes from Hob Nob Tours took us around the area showing us famous shops that have long been associated with the royal family.
Such as LOBB a bespoke and made to measure place where the Duke of Edinburgh buys his shoes.
Lock & Co, the world’s oldest hat makers, established in 1662 when the construction of St James Palace meant the birth of St James Street. Lord Nelson, Winston Churchill and Oscar Wilde were all fans on the historical shop and Bond villain Odd Job and Charlie Chaplain’s famous bowler hat both came from there. Above the store is the head quarters of designer Rachel Trevor Morgan who makes hats for the Queen.
Next door is Berry Bros & Rudd, a wine store established in 1698 and suppliers to the royal family since 1760 when England was under the rule of George III. One of my favourite stories about this store is of the weighing scales pictured above, it became fashionable to weigh yourself in the store and famous figures such as Lord Byron, Beau Brummel and William Pitt the Younger all feature in the records.
What I love about historical walking tours is that they really open your eyes to your city and you become aware of buildings that you never knew existed. Such as the home of Nell Gwynne, the famous mistress of King Charles II or the Reform Club where the fictional Phineas Fogg made the bet that he could travel around the world in 80 days.
Our tour concluded on the renowned Jermyn Street, known for being one of the most exclusive places to have a suit made but also the location of cheese shop Paxton & Whitfield, fragrance store Floris and one of London’s most famous department stores, Fortnum & Mason.
Back in the plush surroundings of Dukes London, we took a moment to enjoy a glass of bubbles and some canapés in their beautiful Champagne Lounge. But if Martini is more your thing, the Dukes Bar is known for selling the best one in the world.
Though the canapés were gorgeous, we held our selves back as we knew what was coming next.
The Victorian facade of The Ampersand Hotel in South Kensington belies a modern interior with interesting quirky details where ever you look.
Inspiration for the eclectic decor comes from the nearby museum district with styles relating to the V&A, the Natural History Museum and the Albert Hall.
Such as this gorgeous music themed room with a dramatic headboard, and stylish wallpaper.
We were totally wowed by the free-standing bath in one of the larger suites which was inspired by nature with floral wall paper and embroidered cushions.
Back down to one of the hotel’s drawing rooms and we were excited for our next treat, an afternoon tea themed around another local landmark, The Science Museum.
This is a tea with a twist and regular finger sandwiches are replaced with chicken caesar salad in a parmesan basket, a crab bonbon, a crayfish cocktail on focaccia and a goats cheese and sun-dried tomato quiche.
Fluffy scones are plain or almond….and now here’s the science bit…
All uniquely themed around scientific ideas the pastries included a blood orange and passion fruit jelly on a petri dish, everyone’s favourite a mint choc chip planet with chocolate mousse inside and the accompanying little chocolate space man, a Milky way macaron and a moon shaped fondant fancy. A dash of dry ice added drama to the already gorgeous tea tower.
As well is all this was a side of popping candy….
And a wooden box of chocolate soil so that you could excavate the fossils and the dinosaurs yourself with the paintbrush provided.
I’ve been a big fan of our next hotel stop for many years and that’s not just because The Capital Hotel & Apartments is the closest London hotel to Harrods. The Capital Hotel is still owned and run by the Levin family the original owners for forty years. I love family run properties, they always feel so homely and friendly, several of the Small Luxury Hotels are owned by families including a recent favourite of mine, The Atlantic in Jersey.
We were introduced to Bar Manager Cesar de Silva, London’s best whiskey sommelier who would be leading us in a cocktail masterclass.
Some of the other girls got involved with the cocktail preparation but I was happy to sit back and enjoy such delights as the Bellini and the Cosmopolitan. The bar menu features a list of delicious classic cocktails but there are also wines available from the Levin family’s vineyard in the Loire Valley.
We had a little tour of the hotel and I loved the stylish bar but the hotel is also home to Michelin-starred restaurant Outlaw’s at The Capital. Having tried Nathan Outlaw’s two star restaurant in Cornwall and meeting him on the night, I’m keen to come back here and try the London restaurant.
With only 49 rooms, The Capital Hotel was the smallest on our tour and also had the most traditional decor which I loved. It was just so quintessentially English, and the little bear nestling between the pillows was so cute.
After those potent cocktails we were ready for some more food at the luxurious St James’s Hotel and Club London. The hotel really is one of London’s best kept secrets, hidden away in Park Place in an elegant townhouse in St James. The hotel is home to Michelin-starred Seven Park Place by William Drabble, a classic French restaurant that uses fine British ingredients. But we would be sampling the hotel’s new menu of British tapas.
Light bites were just what we needed after our foodie day and we sampled pretty much the whole menu which included Welsh Rarebit, black pudding, haddock fishcakes, mushroom sliders and prunes wrapped in bacon. We also enjoyed some delicious wine from a vineyard in Kent, sampling a delicious white and rosé.
Tired, tipsy, stuffed with food but very happy after such a wonderful day, we headed off to our respective hotels with each blogger staying in a different hotel in the London collection.
I was lucky enough to be heading back to this glorious bed at one of my favourite hidden gem hotels, 11 Cadogan Gardens in Chelsea. And I collapsed into it in all it’s four postered glory! I’ll be reviewing the hotel and showing you around in my next post as I’ve written far too much already.
As you can see this day filled with food, cocktails and luxury hotels really was perfect for me and I loved every hotel as they were all different and special in their own way. A huge thank you to Small Luxury Hotels of The World for hosting this very special day. Also do check out the blogs of the other ladies:
And check the hashtag #SLHdoesLondon to follow the social media from our tour.
I was hosted by Small Luxury Hotel of the World for this event.