A Kensington Keeper
From the bright Drawing Rooms to the spacious and contemporary rooms, guests young – and young at heart – will find The Ampersand Hotel a trendy and top notch Kensington bolt hole
Review by Lauren Naylor
Despite working in East London for the best part of ten years – yet residing in Essex, my son, much like Paddington Bear, gets very excited at the prospect of a visit to London – and that gives me an incentive to head into town with him.
Each bank holiday or school holiday I made a pact to stay overnight in fancy digs and discover parts of London just as his mother has – minus the late night bar hopping of course. I conclude that a one night stay with the accompanying two days in London is as exciting as a mini break, and very much feels like one for us.
The schlep among the empty District Line of dreams (32 stops from our house!) is exhilarating for Master Albie, and if the fun for him starts with our train journey – I wholeheartedly embrace the experience. An hour and a half from our front door – a trip away in itself (see what I mean?) we found ourselves in South West London – a bustling part of town. The luxury 5* Ampersand Hotel is two minutes from South Kensington Tube and is perched stone throw from some of the best museums London has to offer and is the perfect place to rest throbbing feet after you’ve charged around the Science Museum with a three-nager in tow.
The independent Boutique Hotel opened on 29th August 2012 and is part of Small Luxury Hotels of the World, a collection of over 500 hotels in more than 70 countries. The Ampersand boasts 111 rooms which are inspired by the local neighbourhood, with the design aesthetic referencing museums and central concepts such as botany, music, astronomy, ornithology, and geometry.
From the V & A’s extensive costume collection to the science museum’s planetary installations – the inspiration for the rooms is conjured up through the activities and delights of the area. With a trendy facade of dove grey, and inside, the primary hue of duck egg blue. The Ampersand’s Drawing Rooms zing with hints of rouge and yellow, while botanical sketches and nature-inspired motifs dotted around; from the furniture to the walls – the hotel defies the stereotype of old-fashioned and bland hotels of the area.
But none of the exuberance detracts from the welcoming bedrooms with calm colours and blissfully comfortable beds and I recommend you enjoy breakfast tucked up in it! The suite we stayed in boasted a private balcony with views over the bustling neighbouring area and is ideal to watch the sunset over the London skyline while watching the melee of people thronging the streets. Bathroom decor comes in swish monochrome tones with large freestanding bathtubs – and super spacious rainforest showers (complete with Ampersand ducks). Your cold toes will appreciate the heated floors the fluffy white towels and buttery soft robes and if you’ve forgotten anything – you can bet they’ll have it in one of the mini drawstring bags on the bathroom shelves.
The in-house restaurant, Apero, is worth a visit in its own right. The all-day brasserie, with its Mediterranean inspired tapas menu, has a very cosy speakeasy feel. With Spanish tiled floors, exposed bricks and whitewashed vaulted hotel cellars you’ll also discover a cabinet full of curiosities and eclectic design pieces.
The head chef, Giovanni Ballerin takes his inspiration from fresh, seasonal produce and lunch specials start from just £12.95 for two courses. Make sure you try the Spanish delicacy, Padron peppers pan roasted with chilli and garlic, or the mouthwatering stone bass ceviche – I could not fault any dishes only my stomach for not tolerating more of the delicious grub! Best of all the hotel ADORE children and go out of their way to make them feel utterly spoilt; from giving us a private viewing of the Jungle Book in the library to making my son a tomato pasta dish fit for a King followed by ice-cream. But if food isn’t quite literally on the menu, pop to the Apero bar, a convivial place to try quirky (albeit strong) cocktails like the Gipsy or Come Forth, all of them, again, inspired by the local neighbourhood.
As it’s Christmas, and Christmas is a time of giving, the hotel wouldn’t dream of our furry friends missing out too. The Ampersand hotel has become a Corporate Friends of The Dogs Trust, so when you stay over the Christmas period with your pooch, they will receive a chew toy, and you have the opportunity to donate to help those less fortunate pups.
There’s the wintery, twinkling lights, the dreamy festive displays, the eye-catching store frontages of the area; the excitement encompassing London is palpable even more at this time of year, but extra sparkle all year round comes courtesy of the courteous staff and the excellent 5-star experience at the Ampersand.
Enquiries: The Ampersand Hotel, 10 Harrington Road, Kensington, London SW7 3ER / 0207 5895895 / www.ampersandhotel.com/