Recently, I enjoyed something pretty rare for London: a perfect afternoon. Peak perfection, the scent of fresh flowers filling the air, occurred at 3pm. A friend joined me for for afternoon tea in the quaint, picture-perfect lounge bar of The Egerton House Hotel, part of The Red Carnation Hotel Collection, in London’s Knightsbridge.
What did it for me was seeing my newly-vegan companion’s elated reaction upon finding a plant-based, dairy-free option on the menu.
I tried most of her perfectly-presented cakes, bursting with a luxurious coconut cream, and preferred them to my own – although, to be fair, I could hardly taste a difference.
‘She’s an asset to the Egerton’
The agreeability actually started an hour before, immediately on arrival. I was welcomed by a warm, enthusiastic Operations Manager named Andy, who gave me a brief tour of this immaculate, 28-room five star.
I’ve been lucky enough to stay at many amazing hotels around the world, and meet many of the great people working in them. But Andy is, by some distance, the most charming and friendly person I’ve ever met in the industry. The pleasant tone she set endured throughout my stay.
She’s an asset to the Egerton and put simply, her great attitude rubbed off on me, and, I noticed, other guests too. Especially when she personally bid farewell to each one in the bar early that evening.
The Egerton’s barman Elsey, who was giving informative Martini Master Classes to guests at the time, made a similarly strong impression. I was never keen on Martinis before, but Elsey’s expert knowledge and enthusiasm means I’ve been enjoying them ever since.
The list of positives goes on. All guests of the hotel’s faultless Victoria and Albert suite (above), where I stayed, receive a temporary VIP pass to the nearby V&A, one of London’s biggest and best museums. It grants access to all of its temporary exhibitions. With a regrettably full stomach, I dragged myself round all of them in – somewhat criminally – the space two tours.
At present at the V&A you can catch Frida Kahlo: Making Her Self Up, a look at the life and times of bisexual artist icon of the same name. The Science Museum, The Natural History Museum and Harrods are all also nearby, given the hotel’s enviable location, tucked away as it is along the quiet Egerton Terrace.
‘It feels like Beauty and the Beast’s castle – before it fell into disrepair’
Back in my suite that evening, I found myself constantly running my hands across beautifully rich textures. The deep, decadent reds give an added air of luxury. I reclined and posed on the 200 thread-count Belgian linens of the king size bed, and on my favorite piece of furniture, the deep-seated sofa-bed in the separate lounge. I felt impeccably well-lit and composed. But as I was alone by this point, there was nobody to confirm it.
Instead, an abundance of Tudor artwork and quirky, antique pieces kept me company. For example, I adored the elegant drinks trolley and the tiny exquisite chandeliers. I felt like I was in Beauty and the Beast’s castle, before it fell into disrepair. I half expected the lampshade to start talking. It didn’t. Meanwhile, I also enjoyed the company of many gorgeous Penhaligon toiletries. They’re just about the best you can get.
The Egerton has no restaurant, but I ordered a decent smoked salmon bagel and green juice as an early lunch, and it arrived promptly.
The next morning I opted for an English breakfast. In all honesty, it didn’t sound that inspiring on the menu. (Cumberland sausage, free range eggs, and so on). I also balked at the price. It clocks in at £29 ($38, €32). However, this does includes a selection from the continental breakfast buffet, andI hit the berry smoothie hard.
But when the breakfast arrived, and I had to five credit where it was due – it was just sublime. Impeccable quality, not too heavy, and no surplus grease.
I left The Egerton feeling relaxed and refreshed. I even felt ready to take on the typically intolerable crowds at High Street Kensington tube station.
Given it’s five star reputation, I did come with a scrutinizing eye, but I couldn’t fault the experience. It also helped me fall back in love with London a little bit once once again. After almost 10 years of living here, that really is priceless.
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