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From lunatic asylum to London’s #1-rated hotel.

by Rajul on November 16, 2009

There are almost 2 staff to each guest at the top-rated Milestone, housed in a building with an intriguing history... There are almost 2 staff to each guest at the top-rated Milestone, a hotel housed within a building that conceals a truly intriguing past…

One of London’s prime attractions is the sense of history that seeps through every nook and cranny of the city.

Whether you walk along the Thames or London’s canals; visit the royal parks or the monuments of Trafalgar Square; or walk the cobbled streets of the East End: London somehow always makes you reflect on the past.

Historic vitality also runs through the veins of some of London’s grandest hotels, such as the Savoy (noted for its many historic “firsts”).  There’s also the fabulous stylishness of London’s Art Deco hotels like Claridge’s, as well as the comforting intimacy of the city’s townhouse hotels.

But I want to focus here on the history of a luxury boutique London hotel already explored extensively on this blog, since it’s currently recognised as London’s number 1 hotel according to the guest reviews on TripAdvisor.

Check rates at Milestone Hotel

Each of the Milestone's rooms and suites is individually-decorated in its own "quirky" style Each of the Milestone’s rooms and suites is decorated in a unique, quirky way

We’ve looked at how it achieved this feat from a number of angles: the staff’s “Tiny Noticeable Touches”, its 12 service standards as well as the hotel’s overall management style.  We also love its free WiFi.

But did you know how colourful the Milestone’s varied history is?  Here are some fascinating facts from its rich past:

  • The hotel is named after the old cast iron “milestone” which stands in its original position next to the hotel.
  • The original home on the site (Kensington House) was built around 1689.  It once had a resident, George Davenport, who boasted he was the grandson of William Shakespeare!
  • From 1830 on, Kensington House was a private “lunatic asylum” and superceded by a second mansion with the same name.  It was replaced in the 1880s by the two houses currently in place.
  • The building first began to be used as a hotel in 1922.
  • In 1986, the Milestone suffered serious damage in a fire.  The blaze took several hours to control and the cause remains unknown.
  • In October 1998, The Milestone Hotel joined the Red Carnation Hotel collection.  Its tasteful renovation was complete in September 1999.

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So there you have it!  It just goes to show how a building can have a life of its own through the centuries.  And despite a chequered past full of ups and downs, it can eventually flourish into one of the best London hotels.

The Milestone's staff are especially skilled in handling special occasions The Milestone’s staff are especially skilled in handling special occasions

The hotel’s General Manager told me the hotel has carved out a special niche for helping people to celebrate special occasions like anniversaries.  This claim is certainly borne out by recent guest comments on TripAdvisor:

  • “From the time you arrive to check out you are made to feel special”
  • “We felt like royalty”
  • “Outstanding service, impeccable charming rooms”

Check rates at Milestone Hotel

And for those truly unique occasions, the Milestone has a dozen attractive and quirky suites: these are all individually-designed offering galleries, private balconies, jacuzzis, garden views, a billiard table and more.

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Photo credits: Red Carnation Hotel Collection.

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