A weekend in London promises so much.
- Credit: Archant
The luxury hotel group, The Doyle Collection, may just have the answer. Its three London hotels are situated in characterful neighbourhoods, each with striking distance of the city’s most famous sights. And in their weekend curators, each stay comes with a ready-made wealth of local insights.
Take The Kensington. Set on the eponymous neighbourhood's wide, leafy boulevards, its Victorian grandeur, heritage décor and colourful furnishings lend it the feel of a lovingly restored mansion with the service ethos of a contemporary members club. The hotels' enviable location in South Kensington means the neighbourhood's world-famous museums - from the blue whale of the Natural History Museum to the five millennia of human creativity at the V&A - are right on its doorstep.
Exhibition Road, with its classic brickwork, sculptures and trees lining the wide-open avenue, is quintessentially London. But for something more bijou, take a stroll down the bohemian yet exclusive South Kensington Mews. And for retail therapy? Well, it's all there at Harrods, of course, which is worth a trip if only to marvel at the Food Halls and their original Victorian tiles. The recently revitalised Bibendum also has wonderful tiling - Art Deco this time - and stained glass and is a great spot for a coffee. End the day back at The Kensington's K Bar, with its cool, confident ambience, urbane guests, and creative cocktails mixed by immaculate staff.
It's a similar scene at The Marylebone - home to some of London's most eye-catching suites complete with outdoor terraces, along with the upscale Third Space pool and gym. Here, 108 Brasserie and 108 Bar spill out onto the cobbles of Marylebone Lane, blending seamlessly into this creative, compelling neighbourhood.
Marylebone's rich streak of independent businesses engenders a 'village' feel. And amid the cafes, pubs and markets lie a wealth of cultural attractions - from the contemporary artworks of the Rebecca Hossack gallery to the classical splendour of the Wallace Collection; from the immaculately dressed A-listers of the Chiltern Firehouse to the intimate confines of the Wigmore Hall - and all just a short stroll from the buzz of Bond Street, Oxford Street and the West End.
Chiltern Street itself is home to an array of quirky independent boutiques, selling everything from whisky and candles to woodwind instruments and wedding dresses. And for something completely different, try Cabbages and Frocks - a small fashion and food market set in the grounds of St Marylebone Parish Church, where poets Elizabeth Barrett and Robert Browning secretly married and one of Charles Dickens' children was baptised.
For more writer references, The Bloomsbury is set amid the eponymous 18th century neighbourhood - a literary heartland that is home to The British Museum and a host of galleries and antiquarian bookshops, and just a stroll from the boutiques and markets of Covent Garden, and London's theatreland.
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Its vibrant creative spirit lives on in the restored Grade II-listed neo-Georgian architecture of Edwin Lutyens' magnificent building. Steeped in heritage, the hotel has enjoyed its own vibrant transformation, with a bold new look encapsulated by the dynamic Coral Room - a grand salon bar offering all-day dining and late night carousing.
By day, this is a neighbourhood made for walking. And if there's one street that encapsulates the postcode's creative vibe, it's Lamb's Conduit Street - from the foodie haven of La Fromagerie to a string of characterful boutiques - Universal Works, Folk and Persephone books to name but a few.
From there, it's a short walk back to the hotel - so will it be the Instagrammable Dalloway Terrace for Afternoon Tea, or the intimate Bloomsbury Club Bar for signature cocktails? Both celebrate The Bloomsbury Set - a clique of local artists, writers and intellectuals who became notorious as much for their lifestyle as their creativity.
In London, if you look hard enough, there are surprises around every corner - and The Doyle Collection will help you find them.