Q: What is it? A: One of those rare places from where you never want to check out. I’d like to live here. Permanently. In the penthouse. Yes, please. With the room service and the great restaurant and the smiles from front desk.
Happiness is a Victorian house in Bloomsbury. Its style followed Georgian and was succeeded by Edwardian. Get it? Although a historic style, the new stuff known as ‘steel’ was used as a building component. Sanitation and health care had yet to be invented but everybody had their own butler. Aaah, those were the days…
This is what you get upgraded to if you’re lucky: Room # 501. The Penthouse. It’s 70 square meters (750 sq ft.) and the view isn’t your ordinary of the London skyline (window is facing north) but it’s still a glimpse of that Thames Television screen.
Let’s say that you don’t want to sleep? Then this area is where you’re up all night to get some, you’re up all night for good fun, you’re up all night to get lucky… (the unique Nile Rodgers energetic guitar setting the rhythm in the background while you’re uncorking some French bubbly stuff) And hey, no Eames chairs!
A big penthouse should have a bathroom that is… big. Double basins. Walls and floor are of polished granite. Wooden details of oak. The walk-in shower doubles as a steam sauna. It’s even a trip back in time with the time machine as this rooms comes with a bidet. I repeat: A bidet.
I don’t watch a lot of TV, but I have a deep and very serious lifelong love affair with British TV. Their news is on point. Their wit is wittier. Their commentators on snowboard during the Olympics: ”It’s like an alligator giving birth: very rare.” Absolutely brilliant. Even their sleaze is classier than ours.
Room #501 means that you’ve reached the top. Literally. I’m likely to have shared the experience with Daniel Craig, Ricky Gervais, Jennifer Lopez, Scarlet Johansson and John Travolta among others. And David Hasselhoff stayed here. Probably in this room. So bloody awesome.
A 10-ft bronze sculpture by sculptor Fernando Botero, who apparently has a thing for animals and cats in particular. He also has a thing for voluptuous, curvy, naked women. Therefore, may we all share the feeling of relief that there is a cat in the lobby of Charlotte Street Hotel? It could have been something else…
I have a feeling that I belong here.
It’s not the Botero cat in the reception. It’s not the Roger Fry-paintings. It’s the smiles and the attitude from the staff in the reception. I feel welcome like in few other places. A little later, afternoon tea in Oscar, the hotel’s bistro. Same here. Staff who recognize you, welcome you and care about your well-being. It should be the first priority in every hotel but I realize that I make it sound like a novelty. Weird. But honestly, few hotels I’ve stayed in lately can match this. And then she said the magic words: ”You’ve been upgraded to our penthouse. Lovely room.”
And a lovely room it is.
It’s 70 square meters and then some. It’s British without being stuffy and pompous. It’s not heavy. There’s a light feeling that hovers in the middle of the room. Wool, cotton and other fabrics decorate the walls. No expense have been spared. It’s the highest quality throughout and it actually has a rather feminine look. I keep an eye open for the design classics. But there are no standards here. No Eames, no Jacobsen, no Starck… The owner, Kit Kemp, who did the interiors, certainly avoided any shortcuts to make it look fashionable. The hotel opened in 2000 and it hasn’t changed a lot since, simply because it doesn’t have to.
Hotel come with a private cinema. Bathroom comes with a TV.
On the wall over the bathtub in room #501, there’s small screen. Too bad I rarely ever watch TV. I may arrange a screening of my first movie here though. The hotel comes with a private cinema, with 67 lipstick red leather cushions. If you spot a dozen celebrities at the same time, you will have an idea why they’re in the building. I will stop soon, before you get a hotel luxury overdose, but it’s safe to say that this is one of the best hotels in London, although not decorated with mahogany, brass, marble and doormen in bowler hats.
Speaking of celebrities, this made it to the news a while ago: David Hasselhoff stayed at the Charlotte Street Hotel, spotted staff members with glossy photos of himself, stopped them and insisted (unpolitely) they hand ’em over. Not pretty, Hoff. Loosen up, will you?
Charlotte Street Hotel
15 Charlotte Street
London, W1T 1RJ,
+44 20 7806 2000
Nearest tube: Approx. a 5-minute walk from the Tottenham Court Road station.
I’m not one of those guys who are almost religiously devoted to afternoon tea. But when finding yourself in the Oscar restaurant of the Charlotte Street Hotel, I’m prepared to plead allegiance to tea, calorie-infused sandwiches and potent pastries. This, dear reader, is mos’def one of the best afternoon teas out there!
The Bloomsbury set would probably have loved this room with its honesty bar. During the first half of the 20th century Virginia Woolf, John Maynard Keynes, Lytton Strachey, T.S. Eliot, Roger Fry formed a group of bohemian intellectuals who shared ideas, projects, evenings and body fluids with each other, all the time denying being a group in any formal sense.
The drawing-room on the image below comes with paintings from group members Roger Fry and Duncan Grant.
EPILOGUE: Maybe there’s something wrong with me. I google hoteliers. I do. I’d like to know what the person behind a hotel is like. This hotel is part of the Firmdale Hotel Group, so therefore I’m googling the owners, Kit and Tim Kemp. Kit does all the hotel interiors and in one rather brown-nosed article the writer swoons over the couple’s London townhouse. Soon I learn that they ”love to entertain but tend to do it at their hotels”. Perhaps that’s the reason why the homey feeling is definitely there. How many conceptualizers and designers actually stay in the properties they create?