As I arrived wheeling my suitcase behind me, I immediately noted the Baglioni London’s great location bang opposite Kensington Gardens, allowing you to leave your room and be in the park within a minute.
My journey had been a touch stressful but my equanimity was quickly restored by the friendly welcome from the reception desk. Unlike at many hotels, my name was immediately met by the response ‘oh yes, we’re expecting you’ before the computer was checked. Smart and slick.
First impressions count and you notice the décor as soon as you enter – water trickling over a glass wall, a huge painting of the Grand Canal in Venice, distressed gilt panels and a huge black Murano glass chandelier.
It’s not exactly understated but it does have style – Italian style, rather than French (grandiose), American (with it) or English (understated or witty). It’s all rather theatrical as previously noted on my design tour.
Although my room looked onto an interior courtyard (others have splendid park views) it was spacious by London standards and beautifully furnished. Tasteful too, with two comfortable armchairs next to a table, plus a desk with its own chair and huge wardrobes built into the wall. A big flatscreen TV was set in an alcove between the two wardrobes at just the right angle for watching from the bed and there was an Illy espresso machine which I soon made use of (no tea though as Italians don’t really do tea!).
There was no carpet – which is fine by me; instead, a dark wooden floor which my rubber soled mocassins squeaked happily on top of. You could easily spend a week in this London luxury suite and not feel cramped.
The décor is just as striking in the rooms as it is in the lobby and restaurant; lots of yellow and black – a dramatic mix; plenty of stripes and a wealth of interesting textures including velvet, gauze and satin.
To provide a little contrast, there are black and white photos on the wall, an increasingly popular touch in many hotels. But here all the photos reflect classic Italian themes – piazza and cafe life, Sophia Loren and ancient Roman statues. They all have panache and are what I’d call photographers’ photographs. I could have been in Rome instead of London.
Even the magazines have style – Elle, Tatler, Conde Nast Traveller. There was also a copy of Wired, a nice touch for this particular geek!
I’m told the owner’s wife does much of the interior décor for The Baglioni and it certainly seems to bear the stamp of an individual personality. The sink in the bathroom is a lovely hand-hammered copper basin – I was told these were ordered specially from Morocco and all are slightly different.
My one minor gripe would be the slightly dim lighting (though I admit this would have created a suitably romantic ambience had I brought along my other half!). There are backlit panels either side of the bed but they’re low impact and there’s no light in the alcove that shelters the TV and espresso machine. Putting the strong desk light on resolves this though.
The bathroom certainly has more than enough light, loads of space and lovely citrus-scented toiletries (Baglioni’s own exclusive range, not a brand).
In the evening the sheets were nicely turned down, the room tidied and a pair of slippers laid out by the bed; the next morning, I picked up a newspaper on my way down to the Baglioni restaurant for breakfast.
Italians tend to do a lighter breakfast and I’ve had more choice of dishes elsewhere, but the buffet here is nicely presented and includes smoked salmon, salamis and fresh grapefruit served neatly segmented on top of the base of the fruit, a lovely touch. The coffee is excellent, as you’d expect. Of course there were also pastries, yogurts, mueslis and juices galore. There’s a bacon-and-egg buffet too if you fancy it (I didn’t that day), with toast, jam and honey as well. The service is fast and efficient and all in all, it’s a highly civilised way to start the day – particularly if you’re working off a minor hangover after drinking around Italy the night before!
A very refreshing stay and I have to agree with my LHI colleague, Jules, who has previously stayed at the hotel – this is an accomplished 5 star hotel. The Baglioni’s fabulous new Moreno restaurant – where another of my blog colleagues recently did a tasting) is well worth a visit too.
Photo credits: LHI blogger Andrea, Baglioni Hotels.
Disclosure: Andrea was a guest of The Baglioni.