Sometimes, no matter how amazing a hotel is, it’s the staff that make it. And that’s the way it should be.
Take The Kensington. It doesn’t need any help on the looks front. What hotel that is made up of beautiful stucco Regency buildings welded together would? From the outside it looks like someone’s Mary Poppins dream of London, albeit with a cheeky al fresco Mediterranean twist now they have street side dining under cute little canopies with classic French bistro furniture.
But go up those steps, underneath the flags, between the pillars, past the pastel blue bike you can borrow for an afternoon and it won’t be the gorgeous reception you notice. It’ll be the friendliness. From the man on the door to the reception staff to the bar folks when they lead you through for a drink before you go up to your room. Which might not be for a while, because they’ll make you feel like you want to hang out.
The style of the rooms – or salons? They definitely feel more like salons – downstairs treads a very fine line between respecting the age and elegance of the property while being young and fresh and lively. Fires burn year-round, colours are light and powdery to emphasise the historic airiness of the rooms, the floors are shiny parquet and there’s a retro elegance to the furniture and art whose era you can’t quite put your finger on. Thirties? Forties? Before?
Walk through the brass ‘n’ glass doors into The K Bar and you’re in a classic Victorian gentlemen’s club with gem-coloured velvet bar stalls, dark wood panelling, low seating and even lower lighting which makes it feel snooky even on the brightest of summer afternoons. As for the cocktails, we did thorough research and they are flawless. As is the Perrier Jouët champagne. Oh and the red wine.
Upstairs the corridors still feel narrow, almost domestic but when you step into the suites, you can see where the multi-million-pound investment has gone. All the elegance of downstairs has come up in the lift with us: Chinoisery wallpaper, four-poster beds, velvet button couches, marble bathrooms and, in our case, a view out into the wide Queen’s Gate, one of Kensington’s more famous avenues.
Because the location is perfect, especially for anyone new to London, not just because it seems like everything you want London to be from movies but because the museums are just up there and the Royal Albert Hall and Kensington Gardens and Palace just beyond. Dinner at The Kensington, a wander up for your concert in the Albert Hall then back to The K Bar for cocktails, anyone?
Dinner at The Kensington is an occasion in itself, whether it’s on The Veranda or inside with oysters, moules marinières, burgers, steaks and some great vegan options. Oh the afternoon teas (with champagne!) are perfect for treating mums. Especially when you know the staff will be treating her like Elizabeth Taylor. She was an actress. Look her up.
This summer, The Kensington have introduced an exclusive Alice in Wonderland inspired package, in partnership with the nearby Victoria and Albert Museum. After such a long time away from galleries and museums, guests can once again finally visit one of the most famous museums in the world and be amongst the first to experience the incredible Alice: Curiouser & Curiouser exhibition when booking a stay at The Kensington. Back at the hotel, guests will also enjoy a stunning selection of ‘Eat Me, Drink Me, Take Me’ treats -including delicious Alice themed biscuits, playing cards and a themed cocktail. Those booking suites will also receive a commemorative exhibition V&A book to take home with them.
Rates for the ‘Alice in Wonderland’ package start at £405 for a Classic room, £485 for a Deluxe Room and £605 for a Suite.