Winner: One of Resource’s top 12 London Hotels
Colour Me Good // Haymarket Hotel
Lisa Richards escapes the tourist hell of Piccadilly and finds a kaleidoscopic retreat in the heart of London’s Theatreland
As soon as you step into the lobby of the Haymarket Hotel, a John Nash designed building on the busy thoroughfare of Haymarket, you know you’re in a Firmdale property. And not because the group’s style is prescriptive and copycat. Quite the opposite. Bespoke pieces of furniture are artfully scattered around the public space, with striking pieces of fine art adorning the walls. The odd sculpture here, the odd covetable piece of furniture there.
As we waited to check-in, we had a good nose at our fellow guests: a stylish older British couple; a Middle Eastern family with beautifully behaved children with pristinely combed hair; a couple of sharp-suited American businessmen; and Richard E Grant sat lounging on a beautifully upholstered chair reading a book. Such was the surreal setting, with its impeccably turned out extras, that you felt you may have stumbled onto a film set. Albeit a film set designed by someone with innate style. That person being co-owner of the hotel group and its designer-in-chief, Kit Kemp.
We were shown to our room by the incredibly helpful concierge – who, over the course of our stay, went out of his way to help us and bagged us a coveted table at the new Mark Hix restaurant in Soho. Each time he saw us, we were greeted by our names and asked how we were and what had we been up to. Not too much, nor too little. Just the right levels of attentiveness to feel that our every move wasn’t being watched.
Our room was absolutely enormous as we’d been generously upgraded for our stay. Even the term ‘suite’ would under-sell the scale of its proportions. The one-bedroom apartment boasted two bathrooms, a dressing room and a living room. But it wasn’t even its scale that created the biggest ‘wow’: that was due to the design and its furnishings. As you can imagine, we stay in an awful lot of hotels: from quirky boutique B&Bs to vast seven-star palatial affairs, so it takes a lot for us to emit a ‘wow’; even a vaguely positive whimper on some occasions.
It’s not just the enormous suites that have been lavished with quirky design touches: we had a peek around some of the other rooms while we were there, and even though their proportions weren’t quite as grand as our room’s, each was exquisitely designed with no two rooms of the Haymarket’s 50 the same. And of the 50 rooms, even the smaller ones are ample when it comes to a London hotel.
Back to our apartment. Throughout, modern furniture, rugs and art collide beautifully and whimsically with traditional striped wallpaper and antique pieces. Candy blues, strong geometric patterns on rugs, hot pinks, swathes of floral, and a smattering of high-end modern technology shouldn’t have worked together, but they did. Seamlessly. God is, indeed, in the details, and at every turn the room had been thoroughly thought through. So often, one finds a lamp missing; a TV in the wrong place; not enough pieces of furniture in a room; a hairdryer attached to a plug miles from the nearest mirror; a light by the bed whose switch is located on the other side of the room. Not so here.
As soon as the concierge had shown us how to use the TVs in our bedroom, living room and bathroom (there aren’t many things more fabulous than soaking in a tub with a glass of bubbly whilst watching trashy TV as your remote control floats by), he left us to omit squeals of delight as we rampaged through the apartment, deciding on who had which marble bathroom, checking out the goodies in the well-stocked mini bar (sadly, no spirits and mixers, so my usual, naughty mini bar G&T had to be swapped with a Champagne downstairs in the beautiful residents’ bar with its squishy sofas instead), and to test out all the furniture and bathroom goodies by Miller Harris. Despite the high-end design and flourishes, rather than being soulless, the hotel is still cosy, warm and welcoming. We were already beginning to feel very much at home. This is, as well as an exercise in design, an exercise in comfort for the weary traveller.
The bed was made to fit the scale of the room, and was suitably enormous both in height and width – and one of the most comfortable I have slept in. Noise from the quiet street outside, home to the Philippine Embassy, was barely audible, despite our central location, and as we drew the curtains and snuggled in for the night, with room service having been consumed in our living room whilst we watched DVDs, we slept like babies and right through our alarm.
Panicking that we’d missed breakfast, we called down to the restaurant to discover that it was being served all day. How very civilised. It meant we had time for a swim downstairs in the neon-drenched basement – home to the hotel’s pool, and as seen in the Simon Pegg flick How To Lose Friends And Alienate People, festooned with gold Chesterfield sofas and chaise-longues – before heading up to the restaurant for a breakfast of pancakes and maple syrup, and smoked salmon and cream cheese bagels. The only way to start the day. We read the papers at our leisure, eavesdropped the power breakfast to our left and admired yet another beautifully turned out family to our right. Outside, looking jealously into the Brumus restaurant on a rainy October morning were Londoners running for buses and dodging their fellow commuters’ umbrellas as they tried to keep dry, wondering why we seemed in no rush as we picked over breakfast. With no plans for the rest of the day, apart from a trip to the nearby National Portrait Gallery, we took our time, ordered another coffee, and another, and felt rather pleased with ourselves that we’d arranged for a late check-out.
As we checked out late morning we swished past Mr E Grant again, and went out into the rain with our Haymarket Hotel umbrella protecting us from the elements. And as we dashed past the windows of the Brumus restaurant, we too looked jealously inside to see lucky residents of the hotel sipping wine and chatting in the warm.
1 Suffolk Place London SW1Y 4BP
Tel: +44 20 7470 4000