Covent Garden Hotel – The perfect winter city retreat

Bedroom at Covent Garden Hotel

The relentless rain propels me along the effusive and charming, cobbled stoned Monmouth Street in London’s Covent Garden, challenging me to escape it. Despite the weather, eager shoppers move insouciantly from shop to shop, a far cry from the stress inducing, disgruntled traffic of Oxford Street. A door opens and I’m greeted with a beaming smile as I stride into the plush reception of the Covent Garden Hotel.

The dark wood interior and antique furniture teemed with bright and floral textiles exude a quenching warmth. Check-in is quick and painless and a swift tour of the hotel before I am shown to my room impresses upon me the hotel’s endevour to make its guests feel as much at ease as they would be in their own home.

Bathroom at Covent Garden Hotel

My bedroom is especially spacious for a west-end hotel and furnished in quintessentially Kit Kemp form, with rustic antique furniture and colourful soft furnishings combined to stylish and decadent effect. A fully equipped writing desk stands proudly against one wall, while another is furnished with a comfy sofa and stately armchair. A five star hotel, my room boasts a Bose docking station, Tivoli radio, DVD/CD player an LCD flat screen television and less techy, though just as luxurious Frette bed linen. The granite bathroom is also generous in space and facilities, with an ample walk-in shower, double basin, bath with TV and luxurious amenities by Miller Harris. I could happy spend the rest of the day in my room, but I have an afternoon tea date with my friend and vintage expert Margaret Davidson of Penny Dreadful Vintage.

I meet Margaret at reception and as we walk up the winding stairs to Tiffany’s Library, I really do feel like I’m guiding my guest through my very own London mansion. The library is an intimate room, with an open fireplace and antique furnishings, introduced via the vast and beautiful drawing room. These two rooms are for the use of guests only, giving the hotel a rather ‘exclusive club’ vibe.

Pressing the bell above the fireplace brings an expert waiter up to the library, who patiently answers our questions about the menu (we want to try everything, of course). As well as a traditional afternoon tea, the hotel also does a more substantial ‘Gentleman’s Tea’ (I shall reserve judgement on the title) and currently, a Winter Afternoon Tea. We choose one of each, complete with autumn cocktails and the finest fragrant loose leaf teas.

Besides having our teapots replenished, we are left undisturbed to enjoy our afternoon tea. With the rain beating against the broad box sash windows and the lights of Monmouth street dancing against the glass, Tiffany’s Library at the Covent Garden Hotel is the perfect place to be.

The deluxe bed induces a peaceful sleep and I profess this is one of the finest mattresses I have ever lain upon. I would gladly take it home, if I could. It is only the knowledge that I have a breakfast date at Brasserie Max with my talented photographer friend and lead vocalist of Temper Temper, Wendy Bevan that persuades me out of the palatial bed and the feast that follows makes me glad that I do.

So many 5 star hotels profess to offer 5 star food and service, but many do not deliver. Covent Garden Hotel however, delivers on both counts. Breakfast is an offering of freshly baked breads, delicious buttery Danish pastries, nutritious muffins, a variety of refreshing yoghurt and luxury cereals with the option of a made to order hot breakfast. My eggs royale are perfect; soft poached eggs with a lavish offering of delicious salmon and piquant hollandaise. And what’s more, the brasserie does an excellent flat-white. The staff are friendly and engaging and as I leave, I feel like I’m saying goodbye to old friends.

Tiffany's Library at Covent Garden Hotel, London

Brasserie Max at Covent Garden Hotel, London

Covent Garden Hotel is conveniently located for enjoying the theatres of the West-End, exploring the plentiful bars and restaurants of Soho and indulging in London history and culture. It’s also the perfect retreat from the hustle and bustle of the vibrant neighbourhood and a delicious antidote to the harsh façade of winter weather.

Book your stay at Covent Garden Hotel at www.firmdalehotels.com/london/covent-garden-hotel

One Night at The Capital Hotel, Knightsbridge

The Capital Hotel entrance - Photo courtesy of GHOTW

Situated on a quiet street in prestigious Knightsbridge, a mere skip and pirouette away from the likes of Harrods and a swift pas de bourree from Sloane Street, The Capital is the perfect home away from home for the glamorous and wealthy shopper. But for my colleagues and I, The Capital was all about convenience, comfort and efficacy, with a stylish edge.

With The Dreamy Awards approaching and the realization that time would not be taking siesta in a cryogenic freezer bed, it was imperative that on the day and night of the event, seaming the final pieces together and ironing out the ultimate creases should be done with relative ease and as little stress as possible – and thus we claimed The Capital Hotel, a twenty minute walk away from the Serpentine Gallery venue as our residence for productivity and requiescense for an effortless delivery of the event.

Lobby at The Capital Hotel - Photo courtesy of GHOTW

Check-in was a breeze. I arrived early but the friendly staff at reception quickly registered my arrival, announcing that they’d upgraded (a fine word, non?) me to a Double Deluxe and were happy to see if they could ready my room for me sooner while I waited in the cosy lobby, with its grand fire place and antique winged armchairs, on which, I imagined a pair of distinguished women of the arts, lounging casually and plotting a revolution whilst smoking cigarettes from elegant cigarette holders. With errands to run though, I was happy to come back later and left my luggage with the trusty concierge. On my return, my room was ready, my luggage settled and my substantial deliveries brought up to me with a smile.

Accommodation (Deluxe Double) at The Capital Hotel - Photo courtesy of GHOTW

For a central London hotel, I was pleasantly surprised by the size of the room; it felt more like a suite with its own dressing area and semi-living room. The décor with its beautiful fabrics and vintage and antique furniture spoke of old English charm and heritage whilst the facilities and amenities boasted contemporary comfort and luxury. It was refreshing to have a desk to work on, as well as a dressing table to hold my vanity materials and accoutrements, so my laptop was in no danger of being accosted by my mascara or smeared by my lipstick.

I was surprised however, with the lack of tea and coffee making facilities in the room – it’s usually a basic facility at the 5 star hotels I’ve previously stayed at, and no tea in a London hotel room was a curious thing, surely? But even this was soon rectified; a call to the concierge prompted the express arrival of a china laden tray, tea bags, coffee and sugar cubes (huzzah! I don’t take sugar, but I must say I nodded my approval at the cubes of sugar, which could easily have been in packet form.) a pint of fresh milk, a kettle and a box of melt-in-your-mouth shortbread. Refreshments, free Wi-Fi and an agreeable chair and I was all set for a couple of hours of work before preparing to set out for the event.

The shower, I am pleased to say was excellent! And I am very particular about showers. Plus teamed with an array of luxurious toiletries by Bulgari and Kiehls and lush robes and slippers, I was bound to enjoy the fine yet compact bathroom.

An intriguing event later and a short walk from the event’s venue at The Serpentine Gallery, I welcomed the confinement of my bed at The Capital. And oh my, what a bed! Hand stitched mattress with the finest Egyptian cotton sheets and the most amazing pillows. Yes, I slept wonderfully.

Breakfast was served in the opulently decorated dining room, which exuded a feeling of warmth and intimacy, but felt strangely private too. Breakfast, with the exception of my cappuccino (which was rather good) was mediocre and somewhat disappointing for a five star hotel, with the typical buffet offering that differed little from breakfasts at lesser hotels. The service though, was exemplary throughout.

Outlaw's Seafood & Grill - The Capital's new seafood restaurant - Photo Courtesy of GHOTW

The opportunity to eat at the hotel’s restaurant didn’t arise during my visit, but I do hope to enjoy the food at the hotel’s latest offering sometime in the near future. The Capital opens the doors to its newest restaurant Outlaw’s Seafood and Grill on 2nd October, welcoming to its kitchens celebrated chef Nathan Outlaw.

Apart from the slight hiccup that was breakfast, my stay at The Capital was superb, with its quintessential English atmosphere and its exceptional staff playing a key role in the experience. I would gladly stay there again.

The Capital Hotel (22-24 Basil St, Knightsbridge, London SW3 1AT) is a 5* Boutique hotel and a member of Small Luxury Hotels of the World and Great Hotels of the World, The Capital in Knightsbridge holds 5 AA Townhouse Red Stars. http://www.capitalhotel.co.uk