Luxury break in the heart of London
Sometimes you don’t need to go very far to feel like you’ve had a holiday. All it needs is a night or two in a welcoming hotel and the chance to be a tourist on your own doorstep.
So although I only live 30 miles from Central London, I jumped at an invitation to stay overnight at The Chesterfield Mayfair. Part of the Red Carnation group, this stylish 4-star hotel is located on Charles Street between Berkeley Square and Shepherd’s Market.
Even the walk from the Underground is stylish as you pass elegant facades with balconies, basements and grand entrances before arriving at the red-canopied entrance to The Chesterfield, where a liveried doorman starts your stay with a friendly smile.
Unlike many London hotels with their cavernous entrance halls, entrance lounge here is compact and intimate with warm wood-panelling, cosy sofas and fresh flowers. Arriving mid-morning, we were soon being shown to our room.
One word here about that all-important style. If you like minimalist decor, clean lines and muted colours, The Chesterfield may not be for you. Its 107 rooms and suites are all different in colour scheme and design, but all in a style that is best described as ‘busy’. So expect embroidered silk wall coverings and glitzy chandeliers, patterned carpets and sumptuous soft furnishings. Sound good to you? We certainly thought so as we installed ourselves in the gold and duck egg blue opulence of The Chesterfield Suite.
Facilities vary with the grade of room but I really liked all the little touches that go into making these hotel rooms special. And not just the individual decor. Classic doubles have complimentary mineral water and welcome tray, high speed Wi-Fi, and slippers, whilst our spacious suite included USB sockets, a large magnifying mirror, and even a jogging map of nearby Hyde Park and Green Park. The elegant – if compact – bathroom boasted abundant Elemis toiletries and I liked the splash of colour from a single red carnation. What else?
I love to know the story behind historic hotels so was pleased to find the background of 34-36 Charles Street in the room folder. The road cuts through what was once the lawns of old Berkeley House, London mansion of Lord Berkeley of Stratton. A staunch cavalier, he distinguished himself during the Civil War and was rewarded by Charles II with a large piece of land. Many aristocratic residents occupied Nos 34, 35 and 36 before it finally became The Chesterfield Mayfair, named after the 4th Earl of Chesterfield whose own mansion stood nearby in South Audley Street.
Today, the hotel is ideally placed for visiting the key sites of the capital, whether you like to travel on two feet or four wheels. We walked out to catch a theatre matinee, heading through Green Park and down the Mall, where we stopped to admire one of my favourite outdoor artworks – the beautiful friezes of the Queen Mother at the races and touring London during the Blitz. Then it was back to The Chesterfield to chill out, clean up and head down to the restaurant for dinner.
Many London hotel restaurants are poorly used by residents, tempted outside by the lure of the bright lights and big names. But we were really pleased to dine in. Butlers Restaurant is friendly and intimate, the tables separated by screens of white orchids from a central sunken area with one large table. Expect British food with an international twist, and friendly service from staff who manage to be attentive without being overwhelming.
The glazed lobster omelette with thermidor sauce was a sublime starter (do arrive hungry though!), and the fries which accompanied my sea bream and my husband’s roast of the day (melt-in-the-mouth gammon glazed in black treacle) came in mini-pails with a Best of British paper liner. Desserts were equally delicious and the meal finished with chocolate truffles and bite-sized macaroons.
Guests who book direct with the hotel – rather than through an agent – are offered a generous £50 food credit per booking. If you’ve a sweet tooth, the hotel is also famous for its afternoon tea and is a winner of the Tea Guilds Awards of Excellence. Chose from Traditional or Champagne and, for younger guests, the Little Prince and Princess Afternoon Tea.
After a relaxed night’s sleep, we enjoyed the Butler’s breakfast buffet before checking out, leaving our bag to collect later. By early afternoon, we’d spent a fascinating two hours ‘tomb spotting’ in Westminster Abbey to see the last resting places of Medieval and Tudor monarchs, poets, playwrights and politicians, not to mention Britain’s oldest door!
We’d gone ceiling surfing too at the Banqueting House on Whitehall, lying on bean bags with audio guides beneath the magnificent Rubens ceiling. Commissioned by Charles I, the images of royal supremacy were ironically the last thing he saw before being led outside to the scaffold. And we’d watched Japanese tourists hand-feeding grey squirrels in St James’ Park. By the time we got home, just 36 hours after we left, we felt like we’d been away for ages. All huge fun and definitely worth a repeat!
There are often great seasonal offers on the hotel website www.chesterfieldmayfair.com including Boomers, a free full English Breakfast for over 60s. And if your dog needs a holiday, you can book him in as well!
The Chesterfield Mayfair
35 Charles Street
London, W1J 5EB
Telephone: +44(0)20 7491 2622