London’s Covent Garden may conjure up images of street performers and crowds of tourists. While this isn’t completely inaccurate, the area has been undergoing a high-end glow-up in recent years – now home to an impressive array of well-to-do shops as well as top restaurants and trendy venues, writes Emma Newlands.
Enter Henrietta Hotel, whose founders say they have watched this part of the city blossom, “with some of London’s best restaurants, award-winning bars, theatres and museums”.
The hotel is a bijou presence on the relatively quiet Henrietta Street, hence the name, with a blue plaque nearby revealing that author Jane Austen stayed there.
It is a truth universally acknowledged that a great location is a big plus for a hotel – but the Henrietta doesn’t just rely on its central spot, also providing impressive elegant tranquility and a high-calibre food and drink offering.
It’s part of the empire of the French-founded Experimental Group, and near the latter’s first venture in the Big Smoke, the Experimental Cocktail Club in Chinatown.
The hotel offers an Italian Date Night staycation package, “for those who have a flair for Italian style, living, and of course… food”, which includes a four-course dinner from a menu created by Italian Supper Club, “taking guests on an experimental journey along the Italian West Coast”, with matching wines, in addition to an overnight stay.
Easy to find and pleasingly old school, the hotel has proper keys instead of plastic cards for room access – making me feel like a character in an Agatha Christie novel or Wes Anderson film The Grand Budapest Hotel as I check in.
I had mulled going for a run before dinner, but instead take the “apples and pears” to my room on an upper floors, which proves a pretty strenuous workout.
It’s worth the effort, and I am immediately taken with my room’s blue and grey decor, which is simple and elegant with touches of art deco design. It’s the work of French interior designer Dorothée Meilichzon and has that “relaxed but ultra-chic” vibe she and her fellow countrymen (and women) do so well. It makes for a space that is refined and relaxing rather than over-decorated and attention-grabbing, letting you save your energy for when you’re out and about.
I’m also extremely pleasantly surprised by the size of the white, light peach and navy bathroom, with traditional fittings including a comfy bath, in which I enjoy a relaxing soak, and two sinks.
Budget or boutique
Most certainly boutique, at only 18 rooms currently - and created by a leisure group whose portfolio is international jetset and includes Paris, NYC, Verbier, Ibiza, and Venice. I would love to tour them all, dressed head to toe in designer gear, including headscarf and sunglasses, with my own monogrammed luggage in tow.
Wining and dining
The hotel’s restaurant, Da Henrietta by Italian Supper Club, offers a menu inspired by the rich cuisine of Liguria, Toscana, Lazio, Basilicata, Campania and Calabria. It includes “grilled bread”, a very low-key billing for what turns out to be one of the most delicious things I’ve eaten in a long time. It strikes me as a fluffy cousin of the ciabatta, and the heavenly version I have is topped with crabmeat and a glossy, bright egg yolk, and dotted with fresh herbs.
Worth getting out of bed for
So many attractions, from the obvious – the theatres of The Strand nearby – to the excellent shopping, including the highly photogenic Neal’s Yard, and/or the culinary, such as the Covent Garden branch of Petersham Nurseries, steakhouse Flat Iron, and macaron palace Ladurée. If my entire visit to London was limited to staying within five minutes’ walk of this hotel, stopping at the occasional cafe, I’d be more than happy.
The mini bar is better-stocked than most – Chartreuse, anyone? However I stick to delicious mocktails while I dine.
A central but not noisy London location, elegant French decor and delicious Italian fare proves a successful combination. Austen’s quote that “nobody minds having what is too good for them” seems an apt summary of my stay.
here it is:
Rates start at £250 per night including breakfast. Henrietta Hotel, 14–15 Henrietta Street, WC2E 8QH, London, (0203 794 5313, https://www.henriettahotel.com/)