Last weekend I stayed in one of the best city hotels I have ever experienced. And not to brag, but I’ve been trying out a few by now. I travel to London quite often and I think I found a gem this time.
The Ampersand Hotel re-opened its doors in South Kensington in the second half of 2012. It’s ideally located across from the South Kensington tube station, a few steps away from the V&A museum, the Natural History, and the Science museums and a ten minute walk from vibrant shopping street King’s Road. It only takes a short stroll to Hydepark or Knightsbridge where you’ll find renowned department store Harrods. And if you are flying in and out from Heathrow airport it’s conveniently on the same tube line.
The Ampersand was built in 1888, and is therefore one of London’s original Victorian boutique hotels, offering 111 bedrooms. All bedrooms are individually styled with a mix of contemporary and classical influences. Classic English heritage meets modern furniture with restored Victorian features intertwined like the high ceilings and beautiful gargoyles. I immediately felt at home due to the many feminine touches and whimsical details. The staff is more than friendly, and so helpful. The atmosphere is elegant, warm, and all about comfort and the design is sophisticated yet unpretentious.
The hotel’s concept is inspired by both the capital’s world-famous cultural district and the iconic ampersand symbol, to illustrate the hotel’s role in connecting its guests to the best of South Kensington. [continue reading after the photo]
The whole hotel pays tribute to the Victorian values of discovery and invention that dominated the age. And since the hotel is in the heart of the cultural area with museums abundant, the design echos arts, history and culture. The rooms as well as the guest areas are designed and styled around astronomy, botany, music, geometry and ornithology. The pattern of the V&A’s costume collection is subtly used in the bedrooms. A botanical wall drawing adorns the wall. On a more personal note: all your senses are spoilt while staying in one of the rooms: the bed is so nice you don’t want to get up in the morning. The rain shower is heavenly, and there is floor heating in the bathroom. The quirky bath duck makes you laugh while the smell of Miller Harris products awakens your senses. There are several seats in the room so you can relax, work or just adore them.
When exploring the hallways and guest areas you soon discover the designers intent was to sweep you away to the famous museums devoted to botany, music, geometry, ornithology and astronomy. These 5 themes are intricately incorporated throughout The Ampersand Hotel, from the 20-foot staircase installation accented with goose feather wings to the bespoke upholstery featuring flowers and ferns. The hotel hallway wallpaper is an intriguing collection of blown-up prints of ornithological drawings, planets, phials and specimens, and dictionary definitions of words like ” experiment” are written out all over the wall as to educate us. Apothecary bottles, bell jars and bird cages add a fun twist to the design.
On the ground floor you’ll find the hotel’s focal attraction: the Drawing rooms. Here is where the patisserie is located serving artisanal coffee and Champagne. Every afternoon they serve up a most delighted and sweet high tea with the best scones I have ever tasted in different flavours like e.g. filled with white chocolate. Pastry chef Ji Sun Shin knows how to tickle your tastebuds and visually seduces us with oversized macarons, meringues and cupcakes in bright colours. The cabinets are boasting nic nacs, vintage china, and lots of birds and butterflies. Eye-candy for the female lifestyle blogger, or any female guest I predict.
The Apero restaurant
For breakfast, lunch and dinner you go down to the vaulted Apero restaurant, led by chef cook Chris Golding. My friends and I had the most delightful breakfast and lunch there. It was so good, that I will dedicate a separate blog post to it, because this restaurant is a must-go even if you are not staying at the Ampersand. So stay tuned for more!
If you would like to learn more about the Ampersand Hotel, also visit my friend Dani’s blog andcute.com. I was traveling with her this weekend, and it’s interesting to read her experience at the Ampersand Hotel from another perspective.
Ampersand Hotel is a member hotel of Small Luxury Hotels of the World.
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