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The Kensington

Kate-Lois Elliott checks out the newly refurbished Kensington hotel

The Credentials

‘Set amongst the leafy squares of the Royal Borough of Kensington and comprising four townhouses, the recently renovated Kensington hotel, which is 100 years old this year, promises a home away from home feeling, more like a beautiful private residence than a traditional hotel.’

Sleep

The hotel has 150 rooms to fit every traveller’s needs, and each of the suites has been refurbed with a different theme, holding true to the classical origins of the hotel but with a modern twist. Our ‘Superior Suite’ was themed around the ancient Chinese folk tale, Blue Willow: with illustrated black and white wallpaper depicting the story. There was also a decadent chandelier, a walk-in wardrobe and a bathroom that brimmed with golden opulence. The bed was tremendously wide and so comfortable that I slept right past my alarm. If you’re keen to sleep in, the TVs are kitted out with Chromecast, so you can stream your favourite shows straight from your laptop.

Dine

We ordered whisky sours for pre-dinner drinks, which were generously sized and just the right level of sweet to sour. Keeping with their new theme, the bar’s decor is also a modern take on upscale classical. The walls behind our table were filled with books – making you feel as if you’d stepped into a library – whilst the bauble covered chandeliers and Art Deco furniture gave a 1920s feel.

The restaurant is laid out like a lounge, with roaring fireplaces and cosy nooks – the perfect spot for a dinner date.

To drink, we ordered the Sancerre, which was deliciously delicate, and surpassed my expectations for any house wine on any menu. For starters, we shared some very fresh oysters, which came with a balsamic, onion and garlic garnish. This was incredibly tasty and complimented the dish so well that we barely needed the tabasco. We also had a burrata, which was full of flavour and the addition of olives to the tomato salad gave it a lovely kick.

Onto the mains… My guest went for a burger and fries, which I judged him for until it arrived and I had to eat my words (and not the burger, which he wouldn’t let me touch). It came in a perfectly soft brioche bun, with a crunchy salad and well-seasoned sauce. Luckily, I had a fresh and meaty salmon in front of me, which was perfectly cooked, with a crispy outside, and a delicious sauce. Be warned, it was deceptively filling.

Unwilling to risk any more food envy, we shared the desserts: a lemon cheesecake, fluffy and dressed beautifully (I want to know what they did to the strawberries to make them taste so good). The creme brûlée was just excellent – any cream lover will be fully satisfied.

A final course of cheese and mint tea was left in our room after turndown, which was a lovely touch.

We returned in the morning for what I can only describe as brunch (I remind you that I slept through my alarm, but luckily the breakfast was served at our own leisure). There is something really calm about the morning service at The Kensington, from the music to the spaciousness and how light the room is. I had an Eggs Benedict, which was everything you could possibly want from an eggs benedict: a soft muffin, perfectly cooked eggs, fresh smoked salmon and a creamy Hollandaise sauce. My guest had avocado on toast, with eggs, which was seasoned nicely, with superbly flavoursome cooked tomatoes that balanced out the rest of the dish. That, teamed with our fresh juice and coffees, was the perfect meal for the space.

Out and About

The hotel is nicely located in the centre of Kensington, surrounded by streets full of gorgeous restaurants and cafes, with access to the rest of west London at your fingertips.

The Crowd

We saw city types who’d popped in for dinner and drinks, grown-up families meeting for a catch-up and out-of-towners.

The Best Thing

The bar and lounge had so many nooks and crannies that I wanted to come back over and over again just so that I could sit in every single corner. I would recommend brunch at the Kensington a thousand times over, especially with an incredibly stylish outdoor space just having been unveiled.

The Worst Thing

Alas, we weren’t able to see the new outdoor seating in all its glory (we were a few days too early) but that is a wonderfully good excuse to go back…

The Details

Rates for the ‘Make A Night Of It’ package at The Kensington start from £425, including an overnight stay, £75 food and drinks credit and breakfast. www.doylecollection.com/hotels/the-kensington-hotel

The Kensington, 109 – 113 Queen’s Gate, South Kensington
London, SW7 5LP