Unforgettable. Indelible. Comforting. How does one go about describing a feeling that makes you so loved and cared by people outside your closed circle of family and friends? I pondered a lot on this and settled for these words that come close but don’t take shape of my experience at this hotel in London. For an aficionado of all things Italian, there isn’t a better treat than to find a slice of Italy in a foreign land. In the heart of London opposite the Kensington Palace Gardens, I discovered a warm welcoming Milanese home – Baglioni Hotel London. Yes I’d rather call it a home than hotel because the people working here do nothing different from a family looking after you. You think that’s going a bit too far in appreciation? Wait until you experience the stay yourself. While I am quite objective in reviewing my experience, intermittently you may find me poetic in the description.
Location: Everybody talks about Mayfair and Park Lane as the iconic stretch of London’s real estate but I found Kensington High Street opposite the Palace Garden to be a suitable respite from the bustling end of Hyde Park. For someone who loves boutique and intimate hotels, I considered Baglioni to be aptly located in the nerve center of London. The Royal Albert Hall and V&A are a couple of blocks away and needless to say so is the residence of Duke and Duchess of Cambridge – Kensington Palace. The palace, a memorable residence of many royal members from Queen Victoria and Princess Diana has its garden gates open parallel to that of the hotel.
Arrival Experience: I was out and about in the city as early as 7 am before arriving to the hotel in the evening. Understandably I was worn out, even though I did enjoy hopping around every direction in London. As I walked towards the doorway every set of eyes welcomed me with a genuine smile and they were not aware of this review, I know this because I had to spill it out later. The welcome was not only warm and genuine but it did not make me aware of how tired I was at the time. When I stay at a hotel I always have my antennae out to notice if other guests are having a good time and how are the service standards maintained from one guest to another. It is very vital that majority of the guests receive the same level of friendliness from the team. As always my eyes and ears were out to capture this and I found the rest were being welcomed in no different manner.
I didn’t know the entire team was Italian at this point, something I was about to discover while dining. A butler approached me during my check-in and introduced herself. Soon after she ushered me to my room and slowly but surely oriented me with my temporary abode. I was curious and couldn’t help but ask if this was the usual service offered to every guest or just a select few. She was prompt to respond “but of course everyone and no distinction was made between guests”. She was surprised when I mentioned not all luxury hotels offer 24/7 butler service to all rooms.
Rooms: The hotel is designed to reflect the signature design of Milan while staying true to the contemporary side of urbane London. Probably ‘chic’ is how I would sum up the design of the rooms. With only 67 rooms, the hotel’s exterior gives a grand townhouse-like appearance. Muted tones of brown gave depth to my room while the black tones added to the luxurious feel. As I sunk into the embrace of my bed, I was happy to know the luxury of sleep wasn’t disregarded while designing the rooms. The bathroom amenities are by the Sicilian brand – Ortigia, a brand I was waiting to experience among bath products. I am very keen to know the bath amenities probably more than the beverages in-room and Ortigia Sicilia does come close to being stocked in my closet very soon. Needless to say the Nespresso and tea selection was impeccable but I was happy to sip one of my favourite coffee – Illy Cafe after a gap of a few months.
Dining and Bar: Brunello is a restaurant divided by the hours of the day. It’s tall windows facing the Kensington Gardens bring in a good view of the city passing you by while enjoying a lovely lunch or tea. I have to emphasize on the breakfast experience with a special mention to the most exquisite Eggs Benedict I have ever had. I usually only order Eggs Benedict with a rare exception of the sunny side up on occasions, and I have a mental gradation of every Benedict preparation thus far. The one at Brunello sits right up and would remain unchallenged for a fairly long time until someone pleasantly surprises me like they did. The experience of a silken Eggs Benedict was something I had been deprived of until that day.
As the sun bids adieu Brunello transforms into an exclusive dining venue with a great atmosphere to let your hair down. The bar end of the restaurant is quiet buzzing and with the varied cocktail concoctions, wine labels on the menu I wasn’t surprised. Late in the evening I chose to unwind over cocktails and some of the concoctions I had the pleasure of enjoying were Bellini with freshly pureed peach and Baglioni Caffe. Discerning travellers can always spot the buzz of a restaurant by the vibe among its patrons but for the hotelier in me, I was more keen to talk to the bartender and manager to understand their product, labels and their thoughts behind offering a particular wine or liquor. I found myself at home again when Donato, the Food and Beverage Manager elaborated on how the team carefully crafts the menu to add value to the patrons’ taste and time. It is a process in itself and having seen so many F&B managers operate I found the team at Baglioni being very precise and thoughtful about their product. The service at the restaurant is no different from the rest of the hotel, in fact there isn’t a line drawn between the departments in terms of service standards. The consistency was very obvious.
Guest Relations: I would sound like a broken record if I enumerated on the efficiency and effort taken by the guest relations team to reach out and tend to guest requests. In my case I had a lot to be thankful to the team especially the lady butler for taking absolute care of my stay and the door man who happened to help immensely with directions and ensuring my car arrived at the destination on time. I have no doubt the other guests have anything different to say about this merry team and if you do stay here do leave your comment on this post and share your experience.
Please visit Baglioni Hotel London for more details.