This Richmond institution has not only changed its name, but also had an interior redesign, which has seen a wash of pale pastels paired with modern jewel tones. The majestic views of the river Thames and the serene gardens beyond, though, are still the same, maintaining the hotel’s status as one of the loveliest places to eat in south-west London.
The restaurant’s food is as good as ever, too. At lunchtime, the dining room bustles with punters taking advantage of some decent fixed-price deals (2/3 courses £26/28), while dinner is more of a special-occasion affair (read, it’s a tad expensive: 2/3 courses £37/45, or a five-course chef’s menu for £60).
Although Cole’s cooking changes with the seasons, expect grand ingredients put to elegant use in accomplished modern Anglo-European dishes. A delicious roasted hake comes with pea and mint purée, crushed pea and Jersey royals; the watercress risotto with Thai pickled shallots, broad beans and horseradish cream is light and fresh; while the beef sirloin with Roscoff onion, white onion purée, anchovy and bonito sauce is a savoury triumph. The best dish we tried, though, was the rhubarb Pavlova dessert of dehydrated meringue sponge, mascarpone mousse, stem ginger and rhubarb sorbet: a creative showstopper.
The redesign has maintained the hotel’s long and rich history, while adding modern touches throughout. The dining room is clad in a warm midnight blue and covered with shelves of Penguin Classic paperbacks and intriguing artwork. The grand ceilings and French doors leading out to the terrace are unchanged, making the room particularly pretty during daytime or early summer evenings.
A new cocktail list has been introduced alongside the “fabulous” wine list; both can be sampled in the Drawing Room, where pink pastel covers the double-height ceiling, matching the gigantic flower installations and impressive bar perfectly.