Before I begin, I have a confession to make. Mr Smith and I are not coming to the Knightsbridge Hotel in London as wide-eyed tourists, easily impressed by all the style flourishes on display. We live in the city, not far from this boutique beauty; and this townhouse hotel, built in the early 1800s, is going to have to work hard to impress us.
The hotel has retained a classic feel, despite its contemporary English conception, and when we walk into the small main lobby, the first thing I notice is the immaculate level of tidiness and freshness. The place feels as though it has been completely redecorated the previous day. I find myself wanting to run off with the clever ‘Scottish dogs’ artwork that hangs among the custom-designed furnishings – all selected with designer Kit Kemp’s usual gifted eye for detail. I adore her African-style chairs, made from authentic Malian fabrics (in fact, I love them so much, I buy one).
As you’ve probably guessed from Ms Kemp’s involvement, the Knightsbridge Hotel is part of the illustrious Firmdale Group – synonymous with a refreshingly bold design aesthetic. As we walk through to the drawing room, where light jazz tinkles in the background, I am immediately drawn to the roaring fire. Warming my hands above its cosy glow, I’m struck by what a cute and welcoming spot this would be for an afternoon tea or a rummage through the papers. I make a mental note to drag Mr Smith back here later for scones and Sunday supplements.
Compared to some of the other hotels in the Firmdale portfolio, the Knightsbridge Hotel, with its 44 rooms, is on the large side. This doesn’t mean that the group’s policy of redesigning rooms on a rollover basis is ignored here, though. If the carpet gets snagged or the drapes start to stick, then they immediately get replaced. In fact, why not do as I do when staying at Firmdale property, and always request a newly refurbished room?
This time, Mr Smith and I are in Room 202 – and it proves to be something of a favourite. Initially, I was a little worried about how noisy it would be (the hotel sits just off the busy Old Brompton Road), but the soundproofing was clearly well done and we sleep like rocks in our fine-sheeted, perfectly firm bed.
The next morning, we order up room service, which arrives within 15 minutes of me replacing the receiver on the bedside phone. Mr Smith and I (both exiles from the US) are delighted to find some seriously great American-style pancakes served as part of the fresh and well-presented breakfast. Also incorporating made-to-order smoothies, fresh juices and several different types of yoghurt, the menu is clearly aimed at a health-conscious crowd.
The Knightsbridge is not a spa hotel, but it may as well be for all the serenity it offers. The strangest thing, though, is that its relaxing ambience and laid-back interiors lie just minutes from the bustling shop floors of Harrods, Harvey Nichols and all those other crowded, credit card-melting emporia. Much as we love to shop, Mr Smith and I eschew our usual retail pursuits in favour of a morning browsing the antiquities at the V&A, and looking at dinosaurs and giant whales at the Natural History Museum – both equally close by.
There may be no restaurant at the hotel, but this hardly matters when so many shining lights of London’s culinary scene are within a mile of your front door. We indulge in some high-end but refreshingly low-fat contemporary Japanese cuisine – miso-marinated foie gras for Mr Smith, crispy fried lemon sole with spicy ponzu sauce and green onions for me – at the wonderful Zuma on Raphael Street, before escaping the din of passing cars on Kensington High Street in the peaceful environs of Hyde Park. It’s a beautiful day, and we find ourselves wishing we’d bought some provisions so we could have a picnic on the grass.
All in all, we loved our stay at the Knightsbridge Hotel. Are there any areas for improvement? Well, as there’s no gym or spa, and I’d love it if they gave guests passes to the nearby Peak Health Club (which has both). But it’s a pretty minor complaint really. I’d happily come back here to hole up if I wanted to escape from the many duties of ‘home’ in South Kensington. And I’ll also tell friends visiting from abroad to stay here – especially if, like me, they love picking up interesting things on their travels. Where else could you check into in London and leave with an authentic Malian chair? It’s beyond our Ken.
Anonymously reviewed by Suzanne Aaronson (Lifestyle curator)
Reviews of Knightsbridge Hotel from Smith members
Whenever you book a stay through us, we’ll invite you to comment when you get back. Read the Guestbook entries below to see what real-life Mr & Mrs Smiths have said about this hotel…
This is a wonderful hotel tucked away in a quiet side street near Harrods and the other joys of Knightsbridge. Staff members were very friendly and professional. Nothing was too much trouble. Beautiful quiet room, comfortable bed. Great room service breakfast. Memorable. The Mr & Mrs Smith extra glass of champagne was very appropriate.
Jon, SilverSmith stayed on 27 Jun 2013
The Knightsbridge Hotel is in a great location, on a small mews off Brompton Road. Lovely and caring staff, but some rooms are terribly small. Be sure to grab some breakfast at Paul bakery (www.paul-uk.com) on Brompton Road, just a three-minute walk away.
Friedrich, BlackSmith stayed on 17 May 2012
It was the first time that I stayed in this hotel and I really appreciated the professional attitude and kindness of staff, from the moment they opened the door for me to get in. The hotel is very British classic in the structure, modern in the details. Rooms are big enough and there is everything you need for your stay: nice color combination used in rooms for wallpaper, armchairs and bedlinen give to the classic ambience of the room a very updated touch with taste and class. Being a GoldSmith member with Mr & Mrs Smith I've been treated with the adequate courtesy. They immediately provide me for all explanation and complimentary gifts that you would expect. A little improvement? Yes there is. The welcome champagne bottle you receive as a member must be improved – better to offer a good bottle of wine than a mediocre champagne. But if you don't bother about the champagne make the hotel is absolutely fab – highly recommended.
Alex, GoldSmith stayed on 1 May 2012
Ask for a newly refurbished suite wonderful soft furnishings. If you want a quiet location close to the vibe of Knightsbridge this is the hotel for you, it was so quiet at night. Take a walk down Sloane Street to Sloane Square for wonderful architecture and designer shops along the way.
Linda, SilverSmith stayed on 21 Mar 2012