It was a quintessential Autumn day in London. From 8am the cool chill had set in and the rain was falling across the city as I made my way from May Fair to South Kensington. Weaving through Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens, I was met with the affluent streets of the west city – endless paths neatly lined with brick Georgian townhouses. But breaking up the continuous view that stretched across the suburb was the perfectly groomed facade of Blakes Hotel, prolific in its appearance as it boasts an all-black exterior. It is a fitting welcome to anyone who has the honour of residing within its walls – even for just one night – or to the visitors of its restaurant and famed Blakes Below, a late night venue dubbed as London’s best kept secret.
Like many of the building found within the British city, it holds almost perfectly preserved heritage. Upon arrival, this was quickly realised as the butler ushered myself and my overtly heavy suitcase into what could only be described as a claustrophobic elevator. It’s historic charm, the saving grace. Whilst the hotel does stand erect around several winding staircases, to carry my luggage up the carpeted stairs – though only three levels – had me opting for mechanical engineering every time. I will admit however, if directions are a weakness to you as they are to me, the quiet, consistently decorated hallways may have you lost from time to time.
As the rain continued outside, I was given the silver, vintage-style key to my room (no key cards will be found here) and I vowed not to leave until later that evening. It is safe to say that Blakes Hotel offers a sense of escapism. Dressed in soft plush carpets, billowing window curtains and period-style furniture, the rooms lend a certain exotic opulence not found, perhaps anywhere else in the world. Inspired and created by designer Anouska Hempel, the grandeur and maximalism of such decor is drawn for her own desire of travel. Across 47 meticulously designed guest rooms, each iteration pays homage to different eastern and western influences; Asian, Moroccan and Colonial styles can all be discovered within the living quarters of the five-star hotel. Within the Provence Double room, guests will be treated to a walk-in closet, decadent bathroom and a spacious bedroom with space to lounge about as the rest of Kensington resumes with its day. Creature comforts are a given – naturally – where modernity meets historic sensibilities with Bang & Olufsen speakers, telephones and TV. However, a USB port would provide added convenience (I know, how millennial of me to suggest). It’s ample bathroom area gives added luxury to the room with generous linen and notably sized bath.
Though guests are treated just through the charisma of such a place, Blakes Hotel and its history of delectable dining and exclusive nightlife lends further appeal and aspiration. On the ground level, visitors to the hotel are welcomed in to a dimly lit corner of the building where the same luxury and excess is reflected in the restaurant. Led by Chefs Peter Del Campo and Mariano Russo Mediterranean cuisine is fused with Asian influences as the pair embrace to collaborate with each other’s culture. The result is a distinctive and extensive menu offering as Blakes Restaurant is dedicated to crafting every dish from fresh, seasonal ingredients; and to surprise diners with exciting discoveries. Accompanying dishes such as courgettes spaghetti stir fry and native lobster paccheri for dinner, the restaurant boasts a highly-curated list of organic wines, designed to pair with the menu’s fares and further examines its commitment to sustainable fine dining. Following dinner, the space conceals a basement dubbed Blakes Below and is considered a favourite of London’s elite.
Frequented by the likes of Lady Gaga, Leonardo DiCaprio, Victoria Beckham, Quentin Tarantino and Gwyneth Paltrow – just to name a few – it is the glitzy, go-to destination for an evening out of the hustle and bustle of the CBD. Continuing the eastern influences seen in the guest quarters, Blakes Below comprises of the Chinese room – perfect for small meetings, screenings, private dinners and drink receptions – and the Japanese room. The entirety of the underground bar can be booked out for 120 people. It is the after hours bar that provides nothing but exclusivity and decadence. Other areas of Blakes also includes the Birdcage and open-air courtyard, lending a pop-art, surrealist, fun touch to the otherwise sexy and brooding hotel.
Situated mere minutes from Kensington Palace, if anything, you know you’re in company with the elite. Though, the luxurious offerings from Blakes Hotel are already proof of that.
And in partnership with Kiki De Montparnasse, Blakes Hotel is launching ‘Behind Closed Doors‘ this month, a winter honeymoon package to offer guests the chance to hibernate in style for a night. Including breakfast, lunch and dinner, all served in-room as well as a plethora of treats such as silk pyjama, it is the only place to be if you find yourself in London’s bitter winter.
To book your stay or for more information, visit the Blakes Hotel website here.