Brown’s was opened in 1837 by James Brown, butler to Romantic poet, hedonist and freedom-fighter Lord Byron. The first British telephone call was made from here in 1876, five years after Napoleon III and Empress Eugenie took refuge in one of the considerable suites after fleeing the Third Republic. Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie and Rudyard Kipling were also guests.
The bedrooms are all large and extremely comfortable, furnished with original art, collections of books and, in the suites, fireplaces; its elegant, classic British hotel restaurant, Hix Mayfair, gives a nod to modernity with a series of contemporary British artworks, including pieces by the likes of Tracey Emin and Bridget Riley, but the public spaces of the hotel thrum with history. Non-residents can visit: try the afternoon tea in the English Tea Room or sip a cocktail in the classily masculine Donovan Bar.
Tuesday May 26 2015
Follow in the footsteps of real local celebs like Joe Orton and the Krays in this stylish addition to the Shoreditch hotel scene
Walking off the grungiest-looking bit of Shoreditch into the former Magistrates Court and Police Station in Old Street is probably not unlike walking through a wardrobe door to discover Narnia, so magical is the scene that awaits you at the five-star Shoreditch Courthouse hotel.
Mind you, the outside of John Dixon Butler’s imposing Edwardian civic building is not bad. The large granite and portland stone blocks are grand enough to suggest something special inside, but we’re still blown away by the masterpiece of decorative detailing beyond its doors, where leaded and glazed windows, gorgeous mosaics and fine wrought-iron work are beautifully lit by a coloured glazed dome.
Cleverly, the hotel’s design lets all this historical splendour do the hard work, situating the check-in desk to one side so that the wow effect of the lobby isn’t lost on arriving guests. Similarly, the dining room, set in the original wood panelled magistrates court, is another tucked-away architectural treat.
Rooms span modern and manly in the new block (connected to the old three-storey block via two walkways), where huge flat screen TVs with Sky (inc Premiere and Sports) are the sole bit of tech… unless you count the tub-facing TV in the bathroom, where an elegant grey colour scheme continues the manly theme from the bedroom. So we head back down to explore the enjoyable basement mini spa (pool, sauna and steam room) and gym, two-lane bowling alley (charged at £45 per hour per lane for guests), 180-seat cinema, and a bar that includes five of the original cells – turned into booths decorated with street art depictions of the likes of the Krays and Dick Turpin.
The bar, with its gold booths and lovely original features, is a great escape from the Shoreditch hordes outside, and offers a decent and affordable dinner if you don’t fancy joining them. We don’t, but find the hotel enjoyable enough to spend the evening in, with friendly staff on hand to see to our every whim. Heading back to our room, we get a sneak peek into one of the old-building rooms, which echo details and styling from the building itself in a very appealing way; get one of these if you can, and, if it’s open, don’t miss the chance for a pre-dinner drink in the rooftop bar, where views over the city and East End help contextualise the old building perfectly.
Time Out top tipIf you’re here on a weekday, book lunch at Margot Henderson’s brilliant Rochelle Canteen, a five minute walk away down Calvert Avenue (stop off at Leila’s Shop for gorgeous gourmet nibbles). For dinner, the Clove Club is bang opposite the hotel in the old Shoreditch Town Hall, and offers some of the most interesting food in the area.
By: Yolanda Zappaterra
Thursday December 1 2016
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Classically styled but without the stuffiness, this West End hotel more than lives up to its prestigious address.
Following the recent opening of the hip, stylish new ME London hotel across the road, you might expect to find One Aldwych – open as a hotel since 1998 – in midlife-crisis mode. But while it caters well to the demands of twenty-first century travellers, there’s no down-with-the-kids awkwardness here either.
Housed in an ornate Edwardian building that once served as the HQ of the MorningPost newspaper, there’s certainly a more mature feel to the place than its fresh-faced competitors. It’s conservative yet stylish – exactly how you might expect the home of a banker with a subscription to Wallpaper magazine to look.
The high-ceilinged lobby bar is an ideal spot to get a feel of the place – sipping a cocktail to the sounds of a live pianist as buses and taxis thunder past outside makes a great warm-up for a first-night wander around the West End, all of which is just a walk away.
For the crowd-averse, there’s good food on your doorstep – on-site restaurant Eneko is the first London venture for Michelin-starred Spanish chef Eneko Atxa, whose Basque-region dishes – though a little on the fussy side – will delight those who enjoy seeing simple ingredients transformed into dainty, exciting plates of food. Breakfast, meanwhile, is served on the mezzanine, and includes a first-rate full English, plus a larger-than-your-usual menu of hot and cold alternatives, including a dedicated section of gluten-free options.
Rooms are spacious and comfortable, though could feel a touch corporate were it not for the fresh flowers and the mix of abstract art hanging on the walls (the hotel has a collection of 400+ pieces). Thoughtful touches abound, with strategically placed little cards giving guests a heads-up on tomorrow’s weather forecast and nearby events and exhibitions they might want to check out.
Gimmicky high-tech touches may be thin on the ground at One Aldwych (the basement swimming pool with underwater music being the one exception), but this is one place where that can be counted as a positive. It’s not exactly old-school glamour, but this established luxury hotel is certainly ageing gracefully.
Time Out tipThe Courtauld Gallery, just steps away from the hotel, has one of London’s best collections of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist paintings outside France.
By: David Clack
Wednesday November 23 2016
The excellent location – in the heart of London’s theatre district – and tucked-away screening room of this Firmdale hotel ensure that it continues to attract starry customers, with anyone needing a bit of privacy able to retreat upstairs to the lovely panelled private library and drawing room.
In the guest-rooms, Kit Kemp’s distinctive style mixes pinstriped wallpaper, pristine white quilts and floral upholstery with bold, contemporary elements; each room is unique, but each has the Kemp trademark upholstered mannequin and granite and oak bathroom. On the ground floor, the 1920s Paris-style Brasserie Max and the retro zinc bar retain their buzz – outdoor tables give a perfect viewpoint on Covent Garden boutique life in summer.
Tuesday May 26 2015
The only hotel in the world where you can hang out in a Harry Potter set and enjoy a genuine neo-Gothic masterpiece without even having to leave the station.
King’s Cross is London’s gateway to Europe, Hogwarts and the north. And the hotel that dominates its south-east facade is built on an appropriately epic scale. The colossal arched doors are plenty tall enough for Hagrid to enter, like in the movies. Inside, the only way is up. Pillars of Connemara marble rise up to pointed ceilings; the double staircase twists majestically; even the arched bedroom windows are so tall that the curtains are a minor miracle of engineering. It looks like it was built by a giant sometime during the industrial revolution – then redecorated, recently and ever so slightly naffly, by his comfort-loving new spouse.
This building, known as the Midland Grand Hotel way back when, is a monument to epic Victorian confidence and wild decorative detail. Amazingly, it was almost bulldozed in the ’60s and was a wreck ten years ago. Its immaculate architectural restoration and re-opening in 2011 was greeted with acclaim. Its actual architect George Gilbert Scott was prolific – the Agatha Christie of the Gothic revival. And like the churches Scott specialised in, it’s constructed more for awe and wonder than draught exclusion. But the Marriott group have done a sturdy job of insulating you from the outside world. Double glazing reduces the polluted east-west Euston Road to a mere thrum. Standard-issue luxury bathrooms have been deposited, in pods, in the oh-so-tall rooms. There’s also nice art, well-chosen books, authentic fleur-de-lys wallpaper, beds as wide as a bus and carpets as thick as Hagrid’s socks. And then there’s the subterranean spa, which is a destination in its own right. It has everything, including a hot blue-tiled plunge pool, steam room, enchanting peacock-based decor; tactful service; subtle aromatherapy-based treatments and the kind of swish organic lotions and potions that make you melt with gratitude and feel a whole lot younger afterwards. Elsewhere, this is a solid five-star hotel in the modern British style: expensive and unsurprising. There’s breakfast (decent) and casual modern British dining at the Booking Office restaurant and bar, overlooking the Eurostar terminal (very decent). More directional cocktails and cooking can be found at the Gilbert Scott bar and restaurant, a favourite for posh date nights and business hook-ups. Better book ahead for that, because it’s out here, down in the basement, and up in the beautifully refurbished bones of the building that the magic happens.
Time Out tipKing’s Cross, where Harry caught his train to Hogwarts, is also the best connected tube station in London. Before you zip off everywhere, check out Granary Square, a broad piazza behind the station, where you can drink Roman wine and eat jugged hare at Grain Store, play Snake in the fountains, brunch noisily with damn good coffee at Caravan and sunbathe on the astroturfed stairs down to Regent’s Canal, along which you can walk to London Zoo, Primrose Hill and Little Venice.
By: Caroline McGinn
Wednesday October 5 2016
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citizenM Tower of London is located directly above Tower Hill Underground Station. Offering spectacular views on the river Thames, Tower of London and Tower Bridge, citizenM offers 370 luxury fitted rooms and a food and beverages available 24/7.Each room is fitted with a flat-screen TV with satellite channels, Apple TV/Miracast and free movies on-demand. Some units feature views of the Tower of London/ the Shard or the London skyline. citizenM provides free super-fast WiFi, a power rain shower, an iPad which controls the entire room, and safe/mini fridge (filled with free water).The hotel provides rooftop meeting room space with views over the Tower of London and the river Thames.The Tower of London is 50 metres from citizenM Tower of London, while Tower Bridge is 200 metres away. London City Airport is 7 miles from the property.
Saturday June 4 2016
Railway enthusiasts will think this Victorian hotel in King’s Cross is heaven – everyone else should appreciate it as a stylish oasis of calm in a busy area
Now an immensely comfortable and relatively good-value boutique hotel, the Great Northern Hotel was once a baby of the railway age. It was built in 1854 to serve passengers at the newly built King’s Cross station, designed just two years earlier by the same architect, Lewis Cubitt. More recently, this 91-room hotel has had a similar twenty-first-century facelift as the neighbourhood around it, which remains a busy transport hub but now also boasts the British Library, Granary Square, Google’s London HQ and The Francis Crick Institute, as well as ample apartments and restaurants.
Even post-regeneration, the King’s Cross area is hardly quiet or quaint. But the Great Northern feels isolated from the mania outside. It offers a luxury experience at competitive prices and design-wise it presents an enticing mix of past and present – with special appeal to anyone who loves Victorian architecture and the railways. The small entrance and reception area is a little underwhelming and the hotel’s extra services are limited to the essentials – but mostly the Great Northern offers a homely experience with lively flashes of modernity.
There are subtle railway references throughout. The first-floor restaurant Plum and Spilt Milk (run by one-time Gordon Ramsay chef Mark Sargeant) is named after the colours of the dining carriage of the old Flying Scotsman train, and offers high-end spins on classic dishes in a thrillingly designed space. The rooms are similarly attractive. The single Couchette rooms nod to the design of sleeper trains, while the Cubitt doubles are light and welcoming (some with freestanding baths). The Wainscot rooms on the top floor are built into the building’s eaves and are the most tucked-away, romantic option. There’s also a bustling public bar on the ground floor that you imagine should offer commuters ‘Brief Encounter’-style dating moments.
Unusually, the Great Northern’s corridors are especially distinctive. A single passageway cuts through the hotel’s four residential floors: each is wide and gently curving, designed, we’re told, to allow wide-skirted Victorian women to pass each other easily. Today’s guests are more likely to make practical use of the handy pantries on each floor.
Time Out tipEven if you’re not using the stations, both King’s Cross and St Pancras offer attractive shopping and eating options, so poke your head into their concourses. Also, take a walk round the back of King’s Cross where you’ll find Granary Square and can join the Regent’s Canal for a walk east or west.
By: Dave Calhoun
Thursday December 1 2016
Oddly, the Grade II-listed façade is the least impressive part of this hotel. The first new Mayfair hotel for a decade is set in the vast 1926 garage where Selfridge’s shoppers used to get their jalopies tuned up, but it is in the painstakingly and totally rebuilt interiors – bland hire-car offices in 2011 – that this art deco fantasia sings.
The bar’s great and there’s smooth service and a lovely private bar/drawing room off the foyer. The staff gets the marriage of glamorous formality and approachability just right, and the owners’ personal travel bugbears have created some really thoughtful touches, from the sliding screens that isolate beds from bathrooms to the free soft drinks, movies and shoeshines.
The Beaumont says
Evoking the elegance and personalised hospitality of pre-war Mayfair, The Beaumont is grand in style yet intimate in feel. A particular feature is ‘Room’, an inhabitable sculpture by Antony Gormley. The hotel includes a grill room, the American Bar, a residents’ bar & lounge, a gymnasium and spa.
Thursday April 30 2015
With a prime riverside location, a destination cocktail bar and a cinema, the Mondrian is a hotel for international travellers and Londoners alike.
First things first: the Mondrian isn’t just for tourists. Since it opened it has wooed Londoners (Time Out included) with its award-winning Dandelyan cocktail bar, governed by the hand of Ryan Chetiyawardana (or Mr Lyan as he also known). Then there’s the decent Sea Containers restaurant and the Rumpus Room, a stunning 12-floor bar offering panoramic views across the Thames to St Paul’s and beyond. Oh, and there’s a 56-seat cinema should you be too lazy to venture further down the South Bank to the nearby BFI.
It’s this South Bank location (next to Blackfriars Bridge) which gives it unparalleled access to London’s cultural quarter. Guests can tick off the Tate Modern and the Globe to the east, and the National Theatre and the Southbank Centre to the west, should they want to cram in more culture than ‘The Culture Show’ during their trip. On the flipside, this does mean you’re a bit of a schlep away from the party spots and world-class restaurants of, say, Soho, but that’s nothing a short Uber ride can’t fix.
Arriving from the riverside entrance makes a much more favourable impression than the rear which is remarkably unremarkable (it’s surrounded by offices and flats). Once inside, the main foyer, with its curvy bronze cladded walls designed to mimic a ship’s hull (the building used to be a shipping company’s offices), is an impressive sight. And this slick design runs throughout the building. Corridors to rooms are sultrily lit, and rooms lend themselves to the feeling this is a hotel where you can get up to all sorts of naughtiness. Standard rooms can be bagged for under £200 per night during quieter times, but those with deep pockets can live the dream in a riverside balcony suite – a palatial space that’s bigger than some one-bedroom flats in London. These come equipped with roll top bath tubs, dining tables, Tom Dixon-designed furniture and fittings, and a bed so comfy you’ll want to chain yourself to it in protest at having to leave.
The Mondrian is part of the Morgans Group, a company that also owns the Sanderson and St Martin’s Lane in London, as well as Mondrians in LA and Miami. This is easily their best property in the capital. In fact, it’s one of the very best hotels in town – whether you’re a guest or a local.
Time Out tipThe whole stretch along the Thames is an absolute joy to walk along, and if you’re planning to propose, it also makes a beautiful backdrop for popping the big question (she said yes, by the way).
By: Mark O’Donnell
Friday November 18 2016