At first it’s not completely clear if the little white cockapoo curled up on the mosaic floor by the step-through push-bike, complete with front-mounted shopping basket, is part of the deal.
A sign on the bicycle’s handlebars simply says, “Take Me, I’m Yours”, the vintage pillar-box-red post box perched on the window sill behind adds to the quirky first impression the five-star Kimpton Fitzroy London gives.
Located on Russell Square and known for much of its life as the Hotel Russell, it was built in 1898 and opened in 1900. It now carries the name of its architect Charles Fitzroy Doll, a man with expensive tastes if the imposing marble pillared halls of the hotel are anything to go by.
But despite the grandeur of the surroundings, the aforementioned quirks – there are many throughout the hotel – give a fresh, light and modern feel to the historic building, while never detracting from its sense of luxury. Rooms to the front look out over the Grade II-listed Russell Square Gardens and views of the BT Tower. Welcome to the hotel known as the Grande Dame of Bloomsbury.
I stayed in a Junior 1 King Bed Suite, comprising Living Room, WC, bedroom and bathroom, complete with a deep, luxurious “vintage” bath as well as modern shower room.
It’s just one of 334 guest rooms ranging from 172-square-foot City Singles to a 915-square-foot suite. Bright and airy, the relaxed décor reflects the literary history of the Bloomsbury area, while a cup of tea and complimentary strawberry and cream tart proves the perfect welcome – and so it should: the Kimpton Fitzroy’s pastry chefs Thibault and Erica were deserving winners of Bake Off: The Professionals. Free wifi and large screen television, as well as a selection of books, make the suite a home from home.
Budget or boutique?
You don’t pay bottom dollar for a stay in such palatial settings, but a recent £85m refurbishment makes it worth splashing out, especially for a special occasion.
Wining and dining
The hotel’s Neptune restaurant is said to be almost identical to the RMS Titanic’s dining room, also designed by Fitzroy Doll, but when it comes to the menu choices there’s certainly no sinking feeling.
Chic and modern, highlights on offer include selections of thoughtfully sourced oysters and British charcuterie, fish direct from the boats in Cornwall and high-quality meats cooked over a wood-fire grill. The deconstructed hot dog on the brunch menu is also worth trying, inventive and delicious. Don’t forget to sample Thibault and Erica’s divine pastry creations.
Fancy a cocktail? Check out Fitz’s of an evening, while those with a taste for Afternoon Tea can chill in the Palm Court or Rose Garden. If coffee is your thing, pop into Burr & Co, a Victorian era coffeehouse with a twist.
Worth getting out of bed for
Make sure to see Lucky George, a bronze dragon on the second floor stairs, a twin of one on the Titanic.
Heading out? The London Silver Vaults, home to the largest retail collection of fine antique silver in the world, is an unusual and exciting place to explore and is located in nearby Chancery Lane.
One tube stop away, Coal Drops Yard boasts a wonderful and unexpected mix of individual, independent shops with signature retail brands from home and abroad – the focus is on fashion, craft and culture. Close by, Granary Square is home to some fantastic places to eat and drink, each with a terrace where you can kick back and watch the world go by.
A daily weather forecast delivered to your room is a nice touch, and a “Don’t Forget” aide memoir archly includes “kids” on the check list. Good news for pet lovers too, Kimpton Fitzroy proudly declares it is “super pet friendly”.
Guest book comments
Genial staff look after you from the moment you arrive. Attentive but never over-powering, they ensure you always leave with a smile.
Rates start at £225 (including VAT) per night. The Junior Suite 1 King Bed, which I stayed in is priced from £623. Check-in time: 3pm, check-out time: 12pm
Kimpton Fitzroy London, 1-8 Russell Square, Bloomsbury, London WC1B 5BE, (020 7123 5000, www.ihg.com/kimptonhotels)