Stylist’s entertainment assistant Julia Maile decamps to a brand new urban bolthole in the heart of London’s West End
We have no reason to check into the boutique hotel, One Leicester Street – we live a mere 30 minutes away. Yet there’s something incredibly decadent about staying in a hotel in your home city. Plus you get all the fun of a holiday, without the 4am schlep to the airport or feeling obliged to sightsee (though the hotel is just metres from all the West End action).
When we let ourselves into our room on the fifth (top) floor, the hotel’s only suite, I seriously contemplate never leaving again. Bathed in sunlight streaming through the shuttered windows, it has a nautical feel with white tongue-and-groove panelling and an open bathroom with a porthole window. It also has a huge bed and seating area with bijoux sofas.
ABOVE: Julia enjoys a cocktail with her orange slice
Yet leave the room we must, as we have a 7.30pm restaurant reservation downstairs and an urgent need (OK, desire) to check out the bar on the first floor beforehand – an elegant, mid-century inspired space with low level Mad Men-esque seating.
The hotel is housed in what was formerly the St John Hotel and has just reopened following a revamp. And when I say just reopened, I mean literally; as he takes our order, the bartender tells us we’re customers number three and four respectively.
Yet that doesn’t stop him expertly mixing a mean cocktail. The menu specialises in creative twists on old classics, so we opt for the nettle and rhubarb gimlet and the basil and rosemary Collins.
As tempting as it is to stay drinking and people-watching (there’s a great view of passing tourists and Soho eccentrics one floor below), it’s time for dinner. The hotel’s 46-seat restaurant is a buzzy space with an open kitchen and closely packed tables. Michelin-starred chef Tom Harris, previously head chef at the St John Hotel, remains at the helm and has created a beautifully illustrated menu based on seasonal British produce. Dishes are either small or large, comprise three main ingredients and are made for sharing; highlights include the deliciously meaty monkfish, rape greens and anchovy, and the ocean-fresh razor clams, tomato and samphire. Harris has moved away from nose-to-tail dining, yet the menu still features some more challenging dishes and it pays to be adventurous. Although we were initially sceptical, the snails, duck hearts and lovage (a vibrant green herb) emerges as the standout dish of the night. Except perhaps for the dessert; the salt caramel, apple and hazelnut is pretty irresistible too.
ABOVE: Channel seaside charm in the middle of London
Post-dinner, the lure of cocktails is so great we return to the bar. But our enthusiasm for testing the bartender’s skills means the next morning, one breakfast alone is simply not going to cut it. We need to eat through our pain. While seasonal rhubarb compote and yoghurt isn’t your typical hangover fare, it’s so deliciously creamy we almost lick our plates, and the buttermilk pancakes with honey and cream are crispy yet fluffy. Next we opt for the ultimate hangover cure; an incredible full English which includes the restaurant’s own fennel sausages and fried sourdough bread.
Thoroughly sated, we retire to our room before we reluctantly checkout at midday. However, we’re pleased to discover both the bar and restaurant are open to non-guests. Suite or no suite, we’ll definitely be back.
Unlisted Collection launches One Leicester Street, a new 15-room hotel in Chinatown; rooms available from £150 per night; oneleicesterstreet.com