AS YOU would expect from a Roman boutique hotel group, its London branch is all about the Italian sense of style.
The Baglioni works its charm from the moment you enter the foyer, which opens into the restaurant/bar area with huge Murano glass chandeliers hanging from the golden ceilings and black and white prints of Italian sex symbols such as Gina Lollobrigida and Sophia Loren living La Dolce Vita. Scattered around are grey armchairs and low tables, all occupied by men in sleek suits with manbags and women with dinnerplate-sized sunglasses. Eavesdrop on their chat and it’s all “Chloe Green says this…” and “Working in Formula One is that…”
Beyond, the restaurant is a-dazzle with glinting cutlery on crisp white tablecloths. Sexy, good-looking and immaculately turned out, if this five star hotel was a man it would be a young Al Pacino.
WORTH GETTING OUT OF BED FOR
Across the road from Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens, the Baglioni is in a great location and the hotel’s chauffeur-driven car will drop you anywhere within a mile’s radius. Arriving late on a Friday night, we plumped for a pit stop of bowls brimful of noodles at Wagamama, in Kensington High Street, and that set us Soho-bound to queue with the night owls at Ronnie Scott’s.
Next day we made for the British Museum, and wandered among the priceless plunderings of empire – including the legendary Rosetta Stone. If the setting up of the current Life and Death in Pompeii and Herculaneum exhibition had been completed, we’d still be there. Night time saw us in Soho again, where we discovered Abeno (www.abeno.co.uk), an unassuming Japanese restaurant in Museum Street where food is cooked on a hotplate sunk into your table. This made for a lively dining experience, given we had an inquisitive toddler with us, and dishes such as okonomiyaki – somewhere between an omelette and a pancake – were washed down a treat with Japanese beer and sake.
WINING AND DINING
Dining in the Moreno at Baglioni means experiencing acclaimed Italian chef Moreno Cedroni’s handiwork. A blend of avant-garde and traditional, it results in modern Italian food with a strong emphasis on fish. Head chef Antonio Bufi’s kitchen turned out plates of sushi starter, sea bass, tortelloni and desserts, that delighted the eyeballs as much as the tastebuds.
As if the amazing view of Kensington Gardens and Palace and Hyde Park, the four-poster bed, marble bathroom, black parquet floors, silk walls, chrome Italian coffee maker, remote-controlled fire and flatscreen TV of our junior suite weren‘t enough, it was also equipped with a piano. I thought we’d never play it but, as it turned out, we set about attempting to recreate the Aristocats scene where the piano crashes down through several floors due to over-enthusiastic playing. Fortunately, the silk-lined walls and grey, gold and scarlet textiles on the bed seemed to muffle the sound.
BUDGET OR BOUTIQUE
Definitely boutique. You might think you’d need a yacht moored off Sardinia to be in the market for this hotel, but it’s worth checking the website for deals.
No less than four charming members of staff turned up to replace our faulty Illy espresso machine, and chatty Italian waiters – each an ambassador for the food and wine of his home region – made dinner a relaxed and informative experience. There’s a spa with treatment rooms and gym, and free Wifi and iPod docking station in the rooms. Not that we needed it with that piano.
More Italian stallion than some of London’s more maiden aunt hotel offerings. Baglioni Hotel London, (60 Hyde Park Gate, Kensington) is available from £145 per person per night. Price is based on two adults sharing a double room on a B&B basis and includes VAT. For booking and further information please visit www.baglionihotels.com or call 020 7368 5700