The Kensington Hotel, London
South Kensington is one of my favourite London design destinations, so when the offer arose to visit The Kensington Hotel recently to review the interior of their new Kensington Suite, I took little persuading.
Behind an elegant regency exterior, and enviably located just a stone's throw away from the V&A, the Natural History Museum and and the Brompton Design District, the hotel is part of the Doyle Collection, an Irish independent and family-owned hotel group. The hotel prides itself on the warmth of its hospitality and we were welcomed and enveloped by its friendliness and attentiveness to comfort from the moment we arrived.
All the rooms are individually designed, and after checking into ours and discovering the sumptuously upholstered Queen sized bed with its smooth as icing bed linen, the Italian marble bathroom and the enticing roll top bath, I could quite easily have just holed up for the night there and then. I did however manage to wrench myself away from the room long enough for a trip to Skandium, The Conran Shop, Mint, Margaret Howell and B&B Italia - all of which are nearby.
Post shopping excursion, happily ensconced back in our room (and by now with aching feet) the lure of the roll top bath could be resisted no longer. Indulging in the abundantly provided Aromatherapy Associates products I enjoyed a blissful soak before heading downstairs to meet my hosts for the evening.
On the ground floor of the hotel there's a series of comfortable, elegantly furnished interconnected drawing rooms - perfect for meeting friends or clients in a relaxed environment - and a warm Irish welcome greeted me in Aubrey Bar where there was time for a quick cocktail before a tour of the hotel's new Kensington Suite.
A generous 180 sq metres of space, the suite has been created as a series of versatile interconnected living spaces that can be reserved as either a one, two or three bedroom configuration. I'm told it's London's largest town house suite and it's certainly very spacious - perfect for special occasions, visiting VIPs, or the well heeled travelling with an entourage or family group. It could comfortably accommodate a brood the size of Brad and Angelina's!
The rooms, which are full of light thanks to the huge floor to ceiling windows, have pale parquet floors and there's an abundance of cornicing and panelling, all of which evokes the atmosphere of a classic 19th century Parisian apartment. There's also a private balcony with city views.
The interiors are a mix of classic, contemporary and found pieces - there's a luxurious circular day bed, a stunning 1930s Murano chandelier and an amply stocked lacquered cocktail cabinet, allowing you to entertain guests in your own private accommodation.
With the tour of the suite over it was time to sample the restaurant. By this point I was starting to feel accustomed to the idea that I was in the hands of hosts who were truly committed to looking after me, so it didn't come as much of a surprise when the food - I ordered a foie gras starter, enjoyed the cod for my main and opted for fruit crumble for dessert - turned out to be excellent too.
Both the bar and the restaurant, with its opulent drapes and racing green leather seats, have a warm, intimate and welcoming feel, and all the staff I enountered were totally charming. Even if I'd been staying at the hotel alone I'd have felt quite at ease with the idea of popping down for a late night drink and a chat, not something I'd necessarily feel comfortable doing at other places I've stayed at. And it's this observation that for me sums up the essence of The Kensington Hotel (and is the reason I would happily return) - it really does deliver on its promise of genuinely warm hospitality in elegantly designed surroundings.
Design Hunter was a guest of The Kensington Hotel