Russell Square’s grande dame was sympathetically rebooted last year to the tune of £85m. Now, a superlative renaissance bone structure combines with modern everything else to create a memorable place to book for your top-brass
In a junior suite on the third floor. We looked out before looking in, admiring the wintry views over brown-leaf Russell Square. There is something anachronistically ‘London’ about this part of town: red buses fly by, gas lamps gently light the pavement and The British Museum
is just about in view over the other side of the square.
Inside, a different story is told: designer Tara Bernard has clearly tried hard to marry en vogue interiors with the hotel’s golden-age DNA. This is evidenced in microcosm with the convex mirror – made modern without a frame – hanging over the room’s four-poster bed.
Unlike the more attention-grabbing interiors in the public areas below, the suites are muted and biscuit-hued, lending a peaceful, genderless atmosphere. Textured wallpaper, clean-line seating and a silver-gilt fire place keep the place feeling up to date.
But the retro-modern scales are balanced in the bathroom with the grandeur of gold butler taps and Carrara marble walls. The latter is the nicer place to be, preferably lay down in the free-standing bath. Floor space is a little on the tight sight, but they’ve made the most of it, fitting in a miniature seating area, and a slender desk-cum-dressing table. The Nespresso machine is a nice touch.
Well, actually, we drank first. Fitz’s
bar has the celeritous staff and heavyweight jazz-age interiors to compete with London’s other destination hotel bars, but it was the menu’s revelatory Word of God cocktail that will live longest in the memory. We liked it so much we had the barman write down the recipe.
Dinner, on the evening of our stay, was a relatively casual affair in the glass-domed Palm Court
. Its green flora and rattan charm were previously only accessible to those enjoying afternoon tea, but the hotel’s recent rebrand (you may have previously known it as the Principal London) has ushered with it a limited (but well-appointed) dining menu. We see small groups gathering around its clustered seating areas for informal daytime meetings or early evening cocktails.
The headline dining option, though, is fish-first Neptune
, whose statement space achieves it-crowd appeal with a combination of marble, brass and velvet fixtures and plenty of modern artwork on the walls. The seafood platter is a must and private dining options abound.
Breakfast is in high-end hipster café Burr & Co
at the north of the building. The buffet is as good as any other top-tier hotel and the atmosphere – owing to it being partially open to the public – is lively. The service, however, felt incongruously inattentive. Particularly when compared to what we’d enjoyed the night before.
The exterior. The marvellous Edwardian façade of this 120-year-old listed building is clad in distinctive thé-au-lait terracotta tiling and decorated with statues of noble women and cherubic putti. The effect is sufficiently consuming for you to be fully immersed in the rose-tinted experience indoors. This certainly deserves to be called one of the most striking hotels in London.
General manager Paul Walters said, “With the rebranding of the hotel to Kimpton Fitzroy London, we’ve taken the opportunity to create some new and wonderful experiences. We’ve put a fresh twist on our afternoon tea in Palm Court — loosening up the service while retaining the quality and throughout 2019, artist Nikki Groom will be popping by to create illustrations of guests.”
Entry-level double rooms at the Kimpton Fitzroy London start at £225 a night.