It’s that wonderful time of year again when London is illuminated by glittering Christmas lights and colourful window displays. I love Christmastime, as it always feels as if everything is wrapped up in festive magic and every light seems to shine that much brighter. It is with this Christmas spirit that I headed with my partner down to the Belgraves Hotel in London’s South Kensington, to enjoy a night in the five-star hotel that all the cool kids are talking about.
Let’s take a step back for a moment before we enter the world of Belgraves. This offering is part of the highly acclaimed Thompson Hotels brand that has already made its mark on a number of fashionable destinations – Miami, New York, Toronto, Los Cabos. Their ethos is impeccably conveyed – Thompson Hotels are at once stylish and fashionable, unconventional and unpredictable. This is a brand that is not afraid to experiment with all aspects of luxury accommodation whilst maintaining top-class customer service. Thompson Hotels are both a glorious place to holiday and a cosy, welcoming second home for locals.
Photo credits: Belgraves London
Belgraves is a location that prides itself on maintaining an awareness of what their guests really care about. Along these lines, The hotel has partnered with twin sisters Stefania Pramma, an exceptional accessories designer, and Valeria Napoleone, a prestigious art collector, to offer guests a wonderful experience in the hotel from the very first moment with a glorious Christmas display adjacent to the grand front entrance.
Designed in traditional crisp white and rich red Christmas colours, the installation takes in two silhouette-style white figurines – elegant gingerbread style figures holding hands with the phrase ‘Love Helps’ written across them. It is entirely distinctive and totally eye-catching, reflecting warm, loving Christmas feelings in a classic yet quirky way – the Belgraves way. As female figures, they can represent a mother and daughter, two sisters or two friends. It’s all designed to convey ideas of ‘love and togetherness’ in the true Christmas spirit while challenging conceptual artistic notions and inspiring discussion. It’s innovative, it’s festive and this sparkling display embodies the philosophy of Belgraves – as a hotel that pushes boundaries without overstepping them.
Slick and stylish
Photo credits: Belgraves London
Inside, Belgraves just continues to impress. You don’t even need to be an art lover to appreciate the hotel’s wonderful collection, which will catch the eye from the moment you enter. The hotel is just a stone’s throw from some of the city’s best art galleries, such as the Royal Academy of Art, and a stay here celebrates London’s position as one of the world’s most impressive art centres. Huge imposing double doors open into the entrance hall – a grand chandelier hangs above your head while an elegant staircase immediately to the right ascends to the bar area, which doubles up as a live art gallery. In keeping with the hotel’s extremely trendy image, the artwork is rotated throughout the year and takes in some striking pop and modern art pieces by acclaimed creators such as Damien Hirst.
Our guest room – a King Deluxe – provided a comforting cocoon away from the bustle of the city, truly encapsulating the meaning of the word ‘retreat’. Minimal, slick furnishings and soft, smooth woods offered a Swiss-inspired, slick edge while large comfy rugs and unique art prints gave the room some serious style points. A huge landscape mirror hung over the king size bed – a haven of soft, plush pillows and luxurious bedding. I could have happily slept in that bed for days.
Photo credits: Belgraves London
Belgraves is unafraid to give its guests exactly what they want, even if wider society is making it more difficult. The hotel’s chic, cosy smoking terrace is one of its hidden gems – accessible by a small staircase behind the first-floor bar, it features a warm atmosphere, hushed tones and a gorgeous, fairytale-land style décor. Ivy leaves snake up the walls flanked by lanterns, bathing the terrace in a soft glow. The huge corner sofa was extremely inviting and even the cigar smoke enhances the classy, seductive tones of the space. We saw more than a few guests indulging in a cigar from the hotel’s premium selection, which includes vintage Havanas.
Downstairs, in the main bar, the décor was confident and oozed class, befitting the stylish clientele who frequent the destination. Snug two-person booths offered a lovely place for a date night and a bit of romance, while vintage and modern one-, two- and three-seater furnishings comfortably sat side by side, complemented by luxurious fabric rugs and striking accents. Bookshelves lined the walls complete with thick tomes, all lit by mood lighting and the flicker of tea light candles.
The cocktails were to die for and truly befitted the hotel’s New York City-style image with a cocktail list that I could not have worked my way through during a fortnight-long stay. The entire area exudes a laidback Manhattan cool that is entirely intoxicating. The Lychee and Rose Martini was deliciously fragrant and light, although this only went some way to masking its lethal alcohol content. Soldiering on (all in the name of research), I followed it up with a Pink Fizz – a stylishly presented long drink consisting of gin, rose NV, sour-flavoured fruit juices and lime. There were lovely flourishes throughout – our meal was preceded by the presentation of a black slate tray with three glass jars containing olives, mixed nuts and popcorn – all very on-trend.
We enjoyed classic diner-style bar food with delicate touches – our sea bass ceviche starter came served in cubes on a bed of ice in a tall, thick glass. Red cabbage coleslaw accompanied the chicken burger, which was wrapped in a homemade brioche bun. My partner opted for the Bespoke Belgraves Burger – a stylish concoction of aged Beef Pattie with truffle mayonnaise and Ogleshield cheese. The food was hearty and full of flavour – we left feeling totally satiated.
The breakfast club
Thompson Hotels also pride themselves on truly embodying the essence of their location – ‘a product of their environment.’ As such, Belgraves provides flawless British hospitality and the service was impeccable throughout our stay. Having recently returned to my native city of London after a few years living in Barcelona’s sunnier climes, I have naturally found myself craving true British classics, and the Belgraves breakfast menu was happy to oblige. The restaurant, Pont St, is decorated in American diner-style. It’s both casual and refined, clad in blue, beige and brown tones with trendy features such as exposed brickwork.
My partner ordered the Full English, which arrived complete with perfectly fried eggs and bacon, free range pork sausages and juicy roasted plum tomatoes. Delicately flavoured field mushrooms and black pudding also featured, along with baked beans (Heinz, of course). The latter even had their own mini serving plate. I chose another British classic with a trendy twist – Clarence Court boiled eggs with sourdough soldiers. We also indulged in a tropical fruit platter, where fresh strawberries, kiwis, blueberries and blackberries were just some of the refreshing, palate cleansing treats on offer.
It’s a dog’s life
After a hearty meal, we spent some time browsing the incredible collection of coffee table books on display in the lobby. Vibrant tones and stylish pop art intermixed with long, low and luxurious seating – the ideal spot for a long read with a glass of wine and a subtle peek at the hotel’s stylish guests.
Further afield, it’s hardly a difficult task to entertain yourself. As a dog(s) owner, I often struggle to find luxury accommodation in enviable locations that are willing to accept my pets. I was delighted to discover that Belgraves is pet-friendly, and also just a short walk from Hyde Park where the pooches can stretch their legs and breathe in the smells of the capital. The hotel’s creature comforts would be very much appreciated by both humans and animals!
With Buckingham Palace, the Royal Albert Hall, the Science and Natural History Museums and the shops along Knightsbridge all within easy reach, London’s must-do list is easily ticked off via a leisurely walk or a short hop on public transport. The local Knightsbridge area has a wonderful mix of glamorous, designer shops and quaint, vintage-style shops, cafes and restaurants.
Belgraves London is the absolute epitome of the boutique destination hotel and a wonderful place from which to experience the city of London in all its glory.