With only a discreet flag marking its prime Covent Garden address, this 18-room boutique beauty is the first London hotel from the ultra-hip Experimental group—the innovative French team behind Paris-based Grand Pigalle Hôtel and Hotel des Grands Boulevards. Minibars stocked with homemade cocktails give a nod to the group’s flagship speakeasy bar, the bare-brick and softly lit Experimental Cocktail Club in London’s Chinatown.
Set in a pair of adjoining Victorian townhouses, just off the main piazza, Henrietta Hotel has an interesting literary past: number 14 used to be the offices of Victor Gollancz—the publisher who greenlit revolutionary works by George Orwell and Kingsley Amis.
Behind a smart white facade, sleek Gallic interiors are given a playful twist by designer Dorothée Meilichzon, while the entire ground floor is given over to an intimate bar and elegant French-inspired restaurant headed up by Michelin-starred chef Ollie Dabbous.
Just 18 rooms create an intimate and exclusive vibe, with interiors following four colourways—think a sleek navy and cream base palette, accented with brass lamps, Carrara marble skirting and forest-green velvet armchairs. But it’s not all textbook Parisian chic—a cool retro vibe arises from mixing patterns and shapes, alongside quirky touches like terrazzo-patterned carpets and handmade Art Deco headboards.
A smattering of essential mod-cons are at your fingertips, including Nespresso coffee machines with Cru Kafe capsules, speedy WiFi and Revo sound systems. All the room types have generous proportions, but Deluxe options bump up the space to make room for a small sitting area; some with bathrooms featuring roll-top tubs.
The views from the full-length windows in my room—number 17—are a highlight, with a small balcony framing vistas that skim over the city’s chimney-dotted rooftops, all the way to the London Eye. Inside, my white-tiled bathroom is fitted with a large, two-person shower and filled with fluffy robes and luxury skincare products by Malin + Goetz and Ren.
But the room to book is the fifth-floor penthouse (number 18), for a small outdoor terrace with excellent city views, plus a blush-pink Art Deco bathroom with monochrome floor tiles, marble finishes and a clawfoot tub.
Creating a buzz on the London food scene, the Henrietta restaurant is spread across the ground floor and glass-roofed mezzanine. Man behind the menu, innovative uber-chef Ollie Dabbous, is best known for his eponymous Fitzrovia restaurant, which scooped a coveted Michelin star within eight months of opening and was always booked up a year in advance. Taking the helm in the kitchen at Henrietta—and an open-plan one at that, so you can watch the team at work—Ollie has created a simple, seasonal menu that reworks modern classics with a subtle French twist.
Standouts include barbecued Jerusalem artichokes in a puddle of cream, studded with hazelnuts and infused with black truffle, followed by day-boat Cornish cod—rich and succulent with smoked butter—perched atop a nest of smoky chestnuts. But the star of the show is indisputably the fresh-from-the-oven madeleines, swimming in Chantilly cream and fragrant with tonka beans—the 15-minute cooking time is well worth the wait.
There’s a refined but relaxed vibe, with a sociable buzz humming in the background. Friendly staff cater to your every whim, on hand to share their excellent knowledge of the menu and offer helpful tips on complementary sides. The look is eclectic and effortlessly cool: shelves are stacked with lightly propped prints, potted plants and vast mirrors sit beneath painted ceiling murals, while Italian Carimate chairs and parquet flooring complete the look.
The restaurant merges into a hip bar, where friendly mixologists whip up colourful cocktails devised by drink historians Jared Brown and Anistatia Miller (the duo behind Sipsmith gin). The pair drew upon the history of the hotel and surrounding neighbourhood for inspiration in creating the characterful drinks list.
Who goes there?
City slickers visiting town on business, chic couples enjoying a stylish weekender and in-the-know Londoners checking out whether Henrietta lives up to the hype—spoiler: it does.
Out and about:
Located just off Covent Garden piazza, Henrietta Hotel is within striking distance of the vibrant enclave of high-end boutiques, high-street stores and quirky stalls. The nearby streets see the likes of Jo Malone and Aesop rubbing shoulders with Fred Perry, Burberry and Cheaney, while further afield is the colourful Neal’s Yard, home to the famous natural remedy store, alongside artisan coffee shops and enticing fromageries.
The London Transport Museum and London Film Museum are both also located nearby, along with a clutch of comedy stores and theatres, while the National Portrait Gallery and National Gallery are both within a five-minute walk.
Food-wise, this West End hotspot was something of a barren culinary landscape in previous years, peppered with soulless chain establishments and tourist traps crammed with theatre-goers. But things are on the up. A wave of top-notch restaurants are springing up across the area, from The Barbary, Barrafina and Balthazar to Frenchie and Clos Maggiore—the latter both personal recommendations by Ollie Dabbous.
The worst thing:
The best thing:
The staff. As soon as you step foot inside the hotel, the team go above and beyond to make you feel welcome, from the receptionist greeting you like a long-lost friend, all the way through to the smiling mixologist and knowledgeable restaurant staff keen to impart their wisdom. Everyone is friendly and helpful without being overbearing.