Belgraves Hotel London
I’ll tell you what’s great. Lying in a bath overlooking Chesham Place. This is one of London’s most chi-chi squares. There’s an attractive little park, some grand Georgian Terraces and it’s buzzing with top-of-the-range cars. Purposeful men stride through in power suits, powerful women clatter on heels and comically frazzled shoppers laden down with bags from nearby Harrods stagger away. It would be fun to look at under most circumstances, but gazing at it from a decent height, through a giant three-sided window, expensively perfumed bath products steaming all around you–naked as the day you were born – that’s really the way to do it. Especially since you can see everyone else and they can’t see you.
However, if you’re that way inclined, the Belgraves hotel also offers plenty of other opportunities for showing off your bits. It’s one of those hotels where you can often see directly into the swanky bathroom from the bedroom, so your loved ones–and anyone else who happens to be around–can watch your ablutions through frost-free plate glass. Happily, there are also curtains, so exhibitionism is not compulsory.
There are also attractions beyond the bathrooms. My room contained a Tracey Emin print, but don’t let that put you off. Otherwise, it was attractive and comfortable and, anyway, the art is rotated regularly both in bedrooms and the bustling lobby. Tara Bernerd, who designed the interior, apparently described the style as ‘today’s rough luxury’. Translated into English, that seems to mean shelves stacked with colour-coded books, gas flames rising from carefully positioned furniture panels, carefully exposed brickwork and warm autumnal colours on the numerous sofas, rugs and huge, comfortable beds. In a few years, I suppose, it will probably look dated, but for now it’s warm and welcoming. A nice place to step into from that exclusive square.
The location is good for more than people watching. It’s slap bang in the middle of Belgravia, an easy walk from all those posh shops, and if you’re prepared to step out a little, endless galleries and more cerebral attractions such as the Natural History Museum are within reach. I went along to the latter, moved to take a longish walk after discovering the delights of eating apple pie and quality cheese for breakfast, thanks to the hotel’s lavish continental spread.
On my return, I got down to more people watching. The hotel website suggests that it’s becoming a base for the ‘gliterratti’ and it wouldn’t surprise me at all if it’s right. It offers just the right blend of comfort, location, busy atmosphere and discreet retreat from the streets outside. In truth, the only really famous person I spotted was the notorious Alastair Campbell, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair’s spin doctor-in-chief. He was conducting an interview under the art prints in the lobby and I did briefly wonder if I should hit the headlines by trying to stage a citizen’s arrest and hector him about all that awful business in Iraq. Fortunately, discretion overcame my valour. It seemed rude to my hosts, who were clearly trying very hard to make everything as pleasant as possible for everyone. Instead, I sloped off back to my room and read a novel in the bath, which was–as I’ve already noted–great.
Belgraves Hotel is at 20 Chesham Place, London, UK, SW1X 8HQ. To book a room contact +44 (0) 20 7858 0100 or visit the website www.thompsonhotels.com for details.