The Columbia Hotel

The Blurb

A hotel, cultural house, and event space in the heart of West London; The Columbia is an independent, family-owned establishment overlooking Kensington Gardens. The historical Hyde Park hotel takes its shape across 5 Victorian townhouses built in 1865, and has welcomed many musical stars over the years between the 1980s and early 2000s.

Last month, I was invited to The Columbia to experience their newly launched Bokeh Bar, as well as a private viewing of artists exhibitions and creative spaces.

The Style

On arrival, I was instantly impressed by the manner in which the receptionist welcomed me and my guest (friend). After greeting us and reconfirming our reservation, the Receptionist informed us of the measures The Columbia have put in place to ensure all guests would have a safe dining experience. As a result of this, both me and my guest were immediately at ease and knew we were in for a good evening.

Our table in the Bokeh Bar was positioned near the drinks bar, so we had a great view of our drinks being prepared.

The room was dimly lit with wooden furnishings and marble tables. The ‘out of focus’ photography which decorated the walls and the antique fireplace, I would have to say, gave the room an overall vibe of a 1920s basement speakeasy or private gentleman’s club.

The Details

Before dining, we were taken on a tour of the first floor and basement by the Director of The Columbia, Josh Fresco.

The first floor had various-sized private lounges; ideal for small-scale socials, business meetings and/or hot-desking.

In the basement, the ‘Fight or Flight’ exhibition room, was by far one of the best highlights of the evening.

A fusion of abstract portrait and landscape paintings, in what appeared to be an old laundry room (perhaps). It was refreshing to hear that the artists had created these artworks during the first national lockdown. Also located in the basement was a ‘soon to launch’ recording studio, which I was pleasantly surprised to see. Last but not least, we were shown around the Alexander James exhibition, ‘Dancing on Lava In A Moment Of Decadence’. This exhibition space was adjacent to the Bokeh Bar, making it easily accessible for guests to go and have a wonder in between drinks.

Speaking of drinks, The Columbia’s signature cocktail, which I had the pleasure of tasting, is made with Japanese Earl Grey tea, Pineapple, Tequila, and also includes splashes of Absinthe. Their small and big plates had an adequate selection of dishes to choose from. For my small plate, I opted for the Mac ‘n’ Cheese, and for my big plate the Fried Chicken, Pickles and Hot Sauce. My friend settled for the Grilled Pork Belly, Scallion and Sesame, with a small plate of Mac ‘n’ Cheese.

I must say, with conviction if I may add, that the Mac ‘n’ Cheese was by far the best restaurant style Mac ‘n’ Cheese I have tasted in a long time. It was creamy but not drowning in sauce, and had just the right consistency of macaroni and cheese. The Fried Chicken, Pickles and Hot Sauce was délicieux. This alongside the Mac ‘n’ Cheese was just the right portion to fill you up. I had a couple bites of my friend’s Pork Belly which tasted like heaven. I would highly recommend both main dishes and a side of Mac ‘n’ Cheese, if you are after a small yet filling meal.

For dessert we both ordered the Baked Apple, Pastry, Chantilly sweet plate. The baked apple was delicious, it practically melted in our mouths. However, the pastry on the other hand, was just too tough and very dry in taste. Personally, a bit of a let-down if I must say. If the pastry had been a lot softer in texture and warm to the touch, it would have made this dessert perfect and most probably the best dessert on the menu.

The Crowd

The overall atmosphere and vibe on the evening was fun and lively yet still chilled. A lot of the guests in attendance included groups of friends and couples. As I glanced around, a lot of guests were either lost in conversation or exploring the Alexander James exhibition. I had a very relaxing evening with good food, thought provoking art and great company. Post lockdown, I would highly recommend an evening at The Columbia.

95-99 Lancaster Gate, London, W2 3NS
020 7402 0021

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