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Your Soho “country retreat” at Hazlitt’s.

by Andrea on January 12, 2011

A four-poster bed at Hazlitt's: not your average London hotel

Hazlitt’s is a fascinating hotel.  From the moment you step in the door, it’s as if you have gone back in time.  Antique sofas, paintings of distinguished Victorian gentlemen or debauched Regency dandies, cut glass chandeliers and four poster beds – it’s a proper fantasy world.

And since many pieces are real antiques you’d find in the best antique markets, it’s not like a Walt Disney style theme park but entirely authentic.

Fortunately though, the service is very much 20th century and the hotel comes with all mod cons including wi fi, TVs and minibars. The technology is neatly hidden though – in one room, a wall mirror swishes back to reveal the TV and the electric blinds rise smoothly when you push a button.

This is most certainly a hotel with character – each room is quite different.

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A typical room at Hazlitt's, furnished the old-fashioned way but with plenty of technology hidden under the hood

Madame Dufloz, for instance (all rooms have names) is inspired by a 19th century courtesan and luxuriously furnished in blue velvet and damask (that’s definitely the room I’d choose though it might not suit a chap!).

And the bathrooms mix modern power-shower functionality with Victorian style plumbing to come up with the amazing ‘bathing machine’.

Described to me as “a chambermaid’s nightmare”, it’s a marvellous brass construction that pours water down into the bathtub from a great height.

It’s also one of the reasons maintenance for this hotel costs more than for a modern property – all the plumbing has antiquated connections that you can’t get from B&Q; and it’s a listed property, so even the tiniest change needs to go through the planning permission process.

This is a small hotel with only 30 rooms (expanded recently from 23 when the next door property became available) and it doesn’t have a restaurant, though it provides breakfast and a selection of pies and pasta dishes for room service.  It also has an honesty bar in the residents’ lounge.

Hazlitt’s has a slightly ramshackle but friendly feel to it; staff are attentive and good-humoured, and I found when I quizzed the desk staff on local attractions that they really do know their stuff.

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The antique-y feel of Hazlitt's even extends to the bathrooms

Even the smallest things are different from what you might expect – Hope & Greenwood vintage style sweeties in the mini-bar, and a copy of Time Out on the table in all the rooms for example.

The latter is also perhaps a bit of a giveaway on the clientele.

Hazlitt’s is in the heart of London’s film and media district, with many of its customers media types – they may be executives but they’re by no means men in suits (and many are women).  They enjoy the fantasy of the gentleman’s club or country retreat, but they want it with wifi, wide screen TVs and a copy of Time Out to plan their clubbing and socialising.

Check the best rate for Hazlitt’s Hotel from 30+ hotel booking sites

So it ends up being quite an appealing contradiction: your bang up-to-date and yet old-fashioned private home right in the heart of Soho.

If you’re looking to stay in the Soho area, you may also wish to research some stylish Soho hotels, or perhaps consider a Soho “crash pad” at Dean Street Townhouse.  And you may also enjoy a lovely Soho evening with a Latin flavour, ending up in one of the best hotel bars in London.

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Photo credits: Hazlitt’s Hotel.

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