The new boutique hotel in Chelsea has much of the original Beaverbrook magic with a theatrical twist
Words: Jonathan Whiley
Beaverbrook seems destined to be inextricably linked with James Bond in my mind. On a visit to its sprawling French chateau-style mansion last year, we stayed in a room named after Ian Fleming. The 007 author was – among many high-profile names including Winston Churchill – a regular guest of powerhouse press baron Lord Beaverbrook.
Fast-forward 12 months and the country outpost original – in my book, one of Britain’s most sensational hotels – now has a chic new city sister. What’s more, with the new Bond film just days old, tuxedos trickle into the bar and vesper martinis provide a punchy Sunday nightcap and a timely reminder of its illustrious history.
Like the very best martinis, Beaverbrook Town House in Chelsea’s Sloane Street – a partnership with the Cadogan estate – serves up the classic recipe with a generous, welcome twist. Occupying two revamped Georgian townhouses, the boutique houses 14 rooms individually decorated in a jazzy, whimsical manner with each named after one of London’s most recognisable theatres.
Ours, The Criterion (others include The Royal Court, The Coliseum and Shakespeare’s Globe) sees a collection of vintage theatrical posters and black-and-white snaps bathe in the room’s natural light, with corridors filled with further eclectic reminders of the capital’s past.
Interior designer Nicola Harding – aided by the creative influence of advertising mogul Sir Frank Lowe (of Tesco ‘Every Little Helps’ fame) – weave their magic once again with Art Deco touches to transport you to the ‘20s and ‘30s. Think Roberts radios resting on bedside tables, four-poster beds, heavy-set ‘theatre-style’ curtains, bespoke rugs, the jazziest of bathroom tiles and vintage drink trolleys with bespoke Beaverbrook cocktails.
Its no-holds-barred flamboyance is seductive and entirely in keeping with Beaverbrook’s larger-than-life personality. It’s also vindication for the Mumford and Sons model; careful outfit curation that masquerades as ‘just-threw-this-together’ nonchalance.
The purposeful panache could swallow your Instagram account whole; but save some room for the Fuji Grill and Sir Frank’s Bar. Both are city equivalents of the original; the former another knockout showcase of contemporary Japanese cuisine with dishes such as Japanese aubergine with spicy plantain miso, miso cappuccino and dry-aged tuna tataki.
Crispy Kentish ants return on both the sushi and sashimi selection (which includes Japanese Wagyu A5), while the Robata grill serves up favourites such as black cod with miso so tender it requires the merest prod of a fork. It’s the sort of menu that will convince even the most hesitant in-house guests to dine in.
Desserts are extraordinarily inventive; a chocolate ‘cigar’ is made from smoked chocolate ganache and served on an ashtray (very clever but a little too much like chomping on a Romeo y Julieta for my liking), while the Namaleka is made with dulcey cremeux, tonka crumble and raspberry and shiso jam is suitably decadent.
Staying for a few days? Work off the calories with a fitness classes at nearby KXU,
book in-room massage and beauty treatments, enjoy a private shopping experience or take a stroll around Cadogan Place Gardens (a key is available from the library reception).
Either way, you will find me in Sir Frank’s Bar with one of the best cocktail menus in London – from the Beaverbook classic Spitfire Collins to Miss Saigon and an espresso martini in the most ludicrously extravagant glass imaginable.
Naturally there is Pussy Galore, Dame Shirley Bassey and a 007 Negroni to choose from too; part of a martini menu par excellence for those nights when you have all the time in the world.
Rates start from £400 on a room-only basis, 116 Sloane Street, beaverbrooktownhouse.co.uk