A hotel called The Guardsman sounds kind of fusty, don’t you think? Don’t you though? Especially when it’s in Westminster. Especially when it’s just down the road from Buckingham Palace. You’re imagining dark woods, clunky furniture, maybe a very old man in a top hat on the door. Well, it just goes to show how prejudiced you are against guardsmen.
The Guardsman – let’s start afresh – is a brand new, five-star hotel, which just happens to be in Westminster just down the road from Buckingham Palace. Small – or it seems small, which is what you want in a boutique hotel – and beautifully put together it’s the perfect little pied-à-terre when you can’t really be doing with a lot of hoo-ha. Step in, take a seat in the lounge, sign your name, go up to your room. Bish bash bosh as a fake cockney chef off telly might say.
And when we say brand new, it’s a whole new building, even in these historic streets (so new, the taxi driver can’t even find it and we have to get out and make our own way). Dark bricked with brass windows and screens, you know before you even get in that this is not The Guardsman you were expecting.
The lounge as you go in is also playing with those expectations: the floor may be parquet but it’s light and broad and modern while the furniture is a mod take on antique mixed in with real mod with all the antique removed. Gem-colour velvets, flashes of brass, some wood panelling mixed with contemporary chandeliers. Toying with you, they are.
Up in the lift to your room and the themes continue. A dark grey wall, a lime green chair, brass just for the hell of it, an egg-shaped bath that, if you pull back the screen, is right there in your room so you can watch TV while you soak. Rooms are not huge but they are comfortable and – this being Westminster’s rich heartland – look right out onto offices opposite.
Back downstairs, and down the brass spiral staircase to the lower ground floor to what is called The Dining Room and Bar – no room for confusion there – and you’ll find the martinis almost shaking themselves. The room is cosy and smart, the staff witty and helpful and the menu full of twists on British classics whether you’re brunching, pre-theatre-ing or late-night date-nighting. They say it’s for guests only and that it’s open all the time and we’ll just have to take their word for it. Oh, and they have a delightful afternoon tea – we think we might still be buzzing from the champagne.
And there you have it, your new easy-to-use little glam-pad just a short trot from the West End and Victoria Station. Tell all your friends.
The Guardsman Hotel, 1 Vandon Street, London SW1