When we sat down to do a recap of all the London hotels that we’ve added in the past year, we found something of a trend. Just as we were getting used to the idea that everything worth noticing was happening out east, the latest openings seem to be swinging the pendulum back towards West London and the good old West End. Here’s what’s new on Tablet in the English capital over the last twelve months.
Shepherds Bush — It feels as though it must be some kind of sign of the times when a Hong Kong-based hotel brand sets up shop in London, rather than the converse. By Tube or taxi, Shepherds Bush is certainly central enough. And it’s quite close by to one London landmark in particular: the Westfield shopping center. (American readers, trust us, it’s a bigger deal than it sounds.)
Notting Hill — Just off the Portobello Road itself, and close to some legendary recording studios, the Portobello Hotel was London’s original rock-and-roll lodging, a boutique hotel before there were boutique hotels. After an impressive restoration, it’s looking better than ever, and its eclectic, bohemian style is very much back in fashion.
Notting Hill — Long one of London’s favorite residential neighborhoods, Notting Hill has finally got a boutique hotel that’s perfectly suited to its setting. The Laslett is steeped in local style, named for the founder of what’s now the Notting Hill Carnival, and its interiors are a celebration of homegrown British design — in fact local sourcing is the rule, right down to the Neal’s Yard bath products.
Kensington — While this South Kensington Victorian monument has been kept up to date, it hasn’t been subject to the mutilation that often passes for renovation. Stately rather than racy, traditional rather than futuristic, it’s nevertheless a touch smaller and perhaps more individual than many of London’s other traditional luxury hotels.
Marylebone — The original Zetter in Clerkenwell was a one-off for far too many years. So naturally we’re far from displeased to see a new Zetter Townhouse open its doors in Portman Village, Marylebone — by now you can expect fine food, inventive cocktails, and a certain bohemian charm to accompany the Zetter name, no matter where it goes.
Mayfair — Patterned after a fictional Roaring Twenties New York member’s club, the Beaumont finds itself in Mayfair, between Selfridges and Grosvenor Square. And despite its American accent, it’s about as Mayfair as a 21st-century hotel can get, right down to the art — namely the massive Antony Gormley sculpture affixed to its Twenties Art Deco structure.
Mayfair — During the Eighties the Athenaeum was more or less Hollywood East, but as the American film stars have spread all over London, the Athenaeum’s clientele has diversified. A vertical garden wall by Patrick Blanc adorns the corner of the façade, and the rooms are urban through and through, without a hint of country-house kitsch — though the views, especially those of Green Park, are surprisingly verdant.
South Bank — Fair enough; there’s nothing remotely West London about the South Bank. But the Mondrian London, geography be damned, is one of the London hotel scene’s most notable recent additions — as well as something of a re-affirmation for the Morgans group, whose last London openings were the Sanderson and St. Martins Lane, well over a decade ago.