Q: What is it? A: If you want to stay in a not so cheap but very well-functioning hotel in a great Soho-location, this may very well be it. You may also keep in mind that hotels are rare in Soho!
If you want to stay very, very central…
…then maybe you should consider staying at here, smack in the middle of Soho; less than a malfunctioning iPhone’s throw from the many bars, clubs, theatres, galleries and fancy restaurants that coexist in the area. And fo’sho, Soho is a quite busy place, although most of the adult entertainment is since long gone. In three historical, Georgian houses on Frith Street, (numbers 5,6 and 7), there are 23 rooms available and they are called the Hazlitt’s. The central location is an obvious selling point. Also, if you want something that’s the exact opposite of, say the Sanderson, then you will probably find yourself very much like at home.
Says Wikipedia: “He is now considered one of the great critics and essayists of the English language, placed in the company of Samuel Johnson and George Orwell…” William Hazlitt (1778 – 1830) died in what was then a boarding house, at 6 Frith Street. Legend tells that his landlady shoved his body under the bed so she could show the room to prospective tenants while she waited for the undertaker. The Hazlitt’s opened as the current hotel in 1986 and was refurbished in 2000.
Is it any good then?
It’s officially rated as a four-star hotel and it’s certainly not a cheap hotel but it’s certainly a very nice one. Nice is the proper word for it. It’s a rambling arrangement of staircases, levels, rooms with dipping floors and an obvious lack of straight walls. Bathrooms are up-to-date (although they are designed to look old with claw-footed bathtubs), but apart from the telephone and a tiny flat-screen TV, there were very few modern items in the Lady Frances Hewitt room where I stayed. All the bedrooms are named for people with a connection to either William Hazlitt or to the building. And staying in the Lady Frances room has become popular – according to the Hazlitt’s PR consultants, this room is the preferred choice of J.K. Rowling. Yes, you are now encouraged to think ‘Harry Potter’.
It doesn’t exactly feel like a hotel.
Sure, there is a front desk but very little else will tell you that you’re staying in a hotel, although the places has all the amenities of a hotel. There’s no restaurant or even a breakfast area, instead you order what you want and it will arrive on a tray to your room. In one of the library looking spaces on the ground floor there’s an honesty bar, so please help yourself to a drink. Most importantly, the staff members are very friendly and work this maze of rooms and suites with a lot of flair. I caught myself thinking that staying here is a very British experience, which makes it sufficient to quote the travel author Bill Bryson, (who was born in Des Moines, Iowa but has been appointed a Commissioner for English Heritage): ”It’s called Hazlitt’s because it was the home of the essayist. All the bedrooms are named after his chums or women he shagged here.”
6 Frith Street
London W1D 3JA