The pandemic has, of course, siphoned away much of London’s human traffic for the time being: but even taking that into account, perusing the streets around new luxury boutique hotel The Guardsman on Buckingham Gate, you wouldn’t guess you were just a stone’s throw away from the traffic (human and automotive) surrounding Victoria Station, half a mile from the Palace of Westminster and seven minutes’ walk from London’s most visited tourism hotspot, Buckingham Palace.
The serenity continues on the other side of the hotel’s imposing (in a good way) grey brick façade: the main drawing room area (see main photo) to the right of reception – an area in which abstract-ish art (make sure you check out The Royal Guard by Maurice Sapiro and The Storm by Marat Melnyk) mingles with regally modern chairs and sofas, modernist light fixtures and marble wall panelling, the overall effect being one that proves “understated opulence” can be anything but an oxymoron.
A major strand of the décor’s character, though, can be attributed to the work of CDC Engineering, which fabricated the building’s metalwork fittings, including the quirky gold latticework seen that frames the reception corner then sweeps across the ground floor from the outside, as well as weeded glass and brass doors throughout and the brass black staircase and balustrade that leads to the subterranean dining room and bar.
Here, the member’s club atmosphere and discrete-but-congenial personal service (with child-friendly vim built in) goes into overdrive, as does the hotel’s emphasis on every guest’s experience at the hotel being uniquely curated – and for every visit. And so, not only will this all-day establishment cater for any requirement – from lazy brunches to pre-theatre bites via late-night romantic dinners – but they’ll be no objections to diners seeing the menu as much a list of ingredients as it is a fixed set of available dishes.
That said, it’s hard to resist sticking to the programme. Dishes, all created using locally sourced and seasonal ingredients, include chargrilled Scottish rib eye steak with hand-cut chips, portabella mushrooms and horseradish crisp, while non-carnivores are especially well looked after with the roast halloumi, avocado, heritage tomato, spinach, mint and bell pepper quinoa salad or the buckwheat and beetroot risotto with feta cheese. Sautéed spinach with chili and garlic as a side, by the way, is a must.
Any of the 53 rooms – again, think member’s club feel with a healthy dose of postmodern chic – will suit the business traveller: if visiting the British capital for leisure purposes, with family or friends in tow, though, opt for one of the six exclusive residences, our favourite of which is the Astor Suite. Taking up the entire top floor of the building, it has a vast living and dining area with a kitchen (perfectly well equipped for professional caterers) going off at a tangent, two tastefully decorated bedrooms and a study which can be converted into a third bedroom. And a private wraparound terrace overlooking St James’s park.
Other major attractions include Chromecast TVs, thoughtful partnerships with the likes of UK based fragrance supplier Noble Isle and the knowledge that the hotel uses only renewable energy for its operations as part of a broader sustainability drive: but the main draws to this fantastic addition to London’s hospitality repertoire are the pinch-me location, the contemporary home-away-from-home atmosphere and an emphasis on tailoring every individual’s stay to their personal quirks and whims (guests can even request in advance their preferred brand of drinks for the room fridge).
When it comes to London’s most attractive hotels of the moment, the changing of the guard is a fairly regular occurrence: expect this one to be on sentry duty for a good while though.
1 Vandon St, London SW1H 0AH (+44 20 7309 9200/ guardsmanhotel.com). The Astor Residence costs £2500 per night.
Check out more photos below