There is nothing like a boutique hotel. It harmonizes with its location just as music does with lyrics. Large modern hotels fit in all over the world
without distorting the landscape. The same uniform high-rise is often as suitable
for Singapore as it is for Chicago. But boutique hotels work only when they
bear the imprint of their setting. An intimately sized luxurious hostelry, be
it in New Delhi or Dubai, must look like it has been sculpted to its surroundings.
For first time guests,
no matter that they have perused a brochure, fantasies about a boutique hotel
often precede check in. What should one expect in London? A lavish lodging whose
imprimatur says, "English countryhouse in the city!" A stay at The Milestone,
a service oriented and sumptuously decorated 45-room, 12-suite establishment,
may just be the definition of the best of London accommodations. The warm atmosphere
and opulent touches duplicate a well- appointed home.
|The Milestone, London
A house always existed
on the site. The stately Victorian building, dating from the late 19th century,
was fashioned from two townhouses and underwent an extensive renovation. Yet,
its historical beginnings have not been discarded; some of the original architecture
and period details remain.
Open less than two
years, The Milestone, located directly opposite Kensington Palace and Gardens,
already feels like a classic and is as majestic and serene as if it were a metaphor
for the monarchy.
The regal treatment
begins at the entrance where a doorman outfitted in a red morning coat and top
hat greets visitors and whisks away baggage. Those staying in suites are given
over to the care of a butler who unpacks. To early morning arrivals from the
States, as an antidote to jetlag, he offers, "Its best not to nap. Youll
sleep better tonight."
Soon a young woman
bearing a large basket of more than a dozen varieties of scented soaps knocks
on the door. Its as hard to decide which one to choose as it is to make
a selection from a box filled with tempting chocolates. Next, a young man arrives
and presents a padded basket holding a pot of green tea or champagne or sherry
depending on the time of day.
To make guests comfortable
the hotel provides desks stocked with office supplies; votive candles; afternoon
tea; pre-printed business cards; toiletries from the quality perfumery, Penhaligons;
direct personal phone and fax numbers; and hot water bottles and book lights
The health club has
a sauna, Jacuzzi and the latest in fitness equipment. Management thinks of everything
that guests might have forgotten. Left your swimsuit or exercise clothes at
home, you can purchase them at the hotel.
Fresh flowers are
an essential part of the decor. The arrangements are so abundant that
it appears as though The Milestone has its own greenhouse.
Each guestroom and
suite is different. The hotelier and her assistant shopped the world for fabrics,
accessories, furniture, woodwork and lighting.
Ask Caroline King,
the amiable general manager, to show you some of the interiors. The balcony
off the Royal Studio has a hedge like an English garden. In the Saville Row
Room illustrations of mens fashions hang on the walls. The Club Suite
features a snooker table. The Venetian Room is stocked with Baci chocolates
and the Garden Room features many botanical patterns. In the tented Safari Room,
which is reminiscent of a luxury camp in Africa, the soaps are shaped like lions.
Wonderful food is
served in Chenestons restaurant, but before you settle in for dinner,
have a drink at the very clubby bar, Stables. Can you guess how its
Hotel, 1 Kensington Court, London W8 5DL. Tel. +44 (0) 20 7917 1000, 1-877-955-1515.
Rates start at $400 plus VAT. www.milestonehotel.com
For techy travelers,
the future is here. In the Carnation Collections recently opened hotel,
"41", one screen in each room fits all. Entertainment and communicationTV,
computer, radio, Internet, DVD and CDare all rolled into a simple interactive
system hooked up to a printer/scanner/fax. Remote keyboards move with guests
from easy chairs to bed. And if you prefer not to get up from that incredibly
comfortable bed, your butler will bring your breakfast to you. You can stay
put on a fine handmade mattress cuddled in a feather duvet and send e-mail,
download spread sheets or check stock prices.
Located across from
Buckingham Palace and the Royal Mews, the entrance to "41" is a discreet front
door and corridor. There is no lobby at ground level. The hotel, constructed
from a warehouse, is located on the fourth floor. In keeping with the high-tech
theme, the design is contemporary and the black and white color scheme throughout
Central to the architecture
is a double-height executive lounge where the skylight offers a preview of Londons
weather. You can find out whether youll need a "brelly" by looking up
at the conservatory ceiling. The oversized lounge features mahogany bookcases,
comfortable seating areas, tables that are set for dining and a massive fireplace.
There are 20 suites
and rooms in all with a ratio of two staff members for each accommodation. Bathrooms
were specially built in Scandinavia with showerheads so big that just like that
bed, you will want to linger in the shower stall.
Breakfast, traditional afternoon tea and a selection of complimentary
snacks in the early evening are offered in the executive lounge and are included
in the daily rate.
The hotel was meant
to emulate a private club for a discerning few. Both tradition and the 21st
century are in force at "41". Despite its newness, the clubroom looks as though
English gentlemen and ladies, too, have been using the premises for years.
"41", 41 Buckingham
Palace Road, London SW 1W OPS. Tel. 020-7300-0041, 800-552-6844. Rates begin
at $277 plus VAT. www.londonby.com/41buckingham