The Five-Star London Hotel That’s Had A Millennial Makeover | sheerluxe.com
Brown’s Hotel is often credited as being London’s first hotel – it’s been a mainstay on Mayfair’s Albemarle Street since 1837. But 2018 has seen a step away from tradition towards a striking new design and modern cuisine from a three-Michelin-starred chef. We checked in to see if the fresh spaces live up to the hotel’s high standards…
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The location…

Just off Piccadilly, and tucked away behind the Royal Academy of Arts, locations in the capital don’t come much better. Despite being a sunny bank holiday weekend when we stayed, both Dover Street and Albemarle Street (the hotel has entrances on both) felt hushed and private. As well as being close to myriad shops and attractions – Victoria Beckham, Fortnum & Mason, The Ritz and Burlington Arcade are all minutes away – Green Park is right on the doorstep, and the nightlife of Soho is just a ten-minute walk.

The vibe…

It might be a hotel steeped in tradition, but Brown’s is the least stuffy five-star property we’ve ever stayed in. Yes, there are doormen and all the staff know your name, but you never feel watched over, which can often happen when at hotels of this calibre. And thanks to constant renovations and this contemporary approach to hospitality – charming, rather than formal – London’s oldest hotel suddenly feels brilliantly modern.

The interiors…

In early 2018, Brown’s emerged from an additional refurbishment, following its £24m transformation when Rocco Forte took over in 2004. With sisters Lydia and Irene Forte (Rocco’s daughters) at the helm, the recent overhaul has been billed by many as a ‘millennial makeover’. Fortunately, many of the Victorian original features throughout the property remain – in new restaurant Beck at Brown’s, the 1900s oak panelling is now bolstered by bright, bold wallpaper featuring birds and plants and turquoise velvet banquet seating. Walls have been removed to let the light flood in, and specially commissioned chandeliers by Chelini add a further touch of modernity to the room.

Over in Donovan’s Bar (named after the renowned fashion photographer Sir Terence Donovan) the bar now takes centre stage. Following a successful pop-up at the Mayfair hotel in December, drinks maestro Salvatore Calabrese took over the opulently refurbished space at the start of April. Within, his menus offer new and signature creations alongside a selection of vintage cocktails made with some of the rarest spirits from his personal collection (the banana and cocoa G&T we sampled was challenging, in a great way). Throughout the bar, racing green accents and touches of gold work well against the 18th-century stained glass and Donovan’s black-and-white fashion portraits, which line the walls. Our favourite spot is the eight-seat ‘Naughty Corner’, which features his most suggestive photographs.

The rooms…

The jewel in the crown has to be the Kipling Suite, named after Rudyard Kipling, who would often reside at Brown’s and even penned The Jungle Book on one of his stays. Richly decorated with intricate William Morris-style wallpaper, modern art and mint green tones, this stylish suite suits those looking for a contemporary twist on luxury. Across from the bedrooms, double showers and a huge tub with a built-in TV, plus a chilled bottle of wine on arrival, set the tone for a relaxing stay.
 

The food…

It’s safe to say Heinz Beck knows his way around an Italian menu – the German-born chef is responsible for the three Michelin stars at La Pergola in Rome. So test-driving his new London opening, Beck at Brown’s, was at the top of our 2018 hit-list. Billed as a ‘casual Italian’, once you step into the redesigned space (which was previously HIX by Mark Hix) you swiftly realise that this establishment is anything but. Service is slick, the waiters wear white jackets, wines are matched impeccably and sauces are poured with a dash of theatricality. But again, the hotel’s personable undertone comes to the fore – not once did we feel anything other than relaxed during our three-course dinner.

We began with what we’re already billing the capital’s dish of the year – the spaghetti cacio e pepe; spaghetti smothered in a buttery parmesan and pepper sauce, topped with lime-marinated langoustine. The linguini with scorpion fish (a first for us) was another winner. Mains followed in a similarly refined style – delicately presented, but big on taste. The grilled black cod with nduja crust and roast veal with braised onions were both show-stopping examples of how to nail flavour, and the signature tiramisu was the nicest we’ve ever tasted.

Another bonus if you stay over at the hotel? You’ll also get to take breakfast in the same beautiful space.

The spa…

Anyone staying at the hotel should put themselves in the hands of the in-house masseuses. Away from the health and fitness area, three treatment rooms are on offer, providing a range of services from jet-lag recovery to deep-sleep massages. We opted for one of the three Rocco Forte Signature treatments, the 80-minute Facial Ritual, which included a foot soak, hand massage, back massage, facial and foot massage. We checked out of the hotel, and into the sunshine, feeling extremely relaxed and unusually knot-free.

Albemarle St, Mayfair, W1S 4BP
Visit RoccoForteHotels.com
 

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