Sit back afer the sales and enjoy luxury
January 09, 2006
AS the frenzy of the festive season ebbs away, the thought of shopping bargains creeps into view.
The shops, boutiques, designer outlets and department stores that London has to offer are ideal for spending all your gift money and plundering top retailers for hot deals.
But serious bargain-hunters need to stay somewhere cosy and comfortable during their shopping trips to soothe their return when overwhelmed with bulging bags. And two boutique hotels ideally set in the West End are the perfect haven.
The Beaufort is an exquisite four-star hotel just around the corner from Harrods and all the tempting shops and restaurants Knightsbridge has to offer.
It has 29 rooms so it’s small enough for personal attention and has that exclusive feel, which is amplified by the friendly and accommodating staff. You really feel spoilt in the calm, muted, earthy tones in which this charming chic townhouse was refurbished last year.
It is also home to the world’s largest collection of English watercolours, carefully displayed in every bedroom and throughout the hotel.
I was open-mouthed with glee as we entered our stunningly decorated room which felt like the most luxurious private apartment; and I was delighted to be greeted by the free Champagne, chocolates, the most scrumptious biscuits, water, fruit and flowers – and, if we wanted, a complimentary cream tea with homemade scones and lashings of clotted cream available to all guests.
Each room also has a CD player and interactive television offering free internet, email and movies, and guests could also help themselves to drinks from the sitting room bar.
Visitors can order tempting treats from the room service menu, from Thai to Lebanese fare, but we decided to stroll to the nearby Sloane Square – a superb spot for shopping – for dinner.
The Beaufort’s excellent location – near shops, designer boutiques, eateries, theatres and cultural hotspots including the Museums of Science, Natural History and Victoria and Albert – makes it an ideal spot to stay in for a shopping spree.
The next day, heading west, we stayed at The Shaftesbury Kensington, also a four-star boutique hotel with 85 rooms on five floors.
It too has been refurbished in plans that began last August but is very different is style to The Beaufort. Unlike the consistency of the former’s décor and feel, this hotel has a somewhat disparate design, although beautifully so within each theme.
For example, the dining area is decked out very well in a cosy Moroccan/Middle Eastern kasbah style while our bedroom was sumptuously decorated in luxurious fabrics and had the air of an exclusive five-star 1920s cabin on the sort of upper class cruise ship where Agatha Christie’s Death on the Nile could have been set.
Mood lighting, stylish bathroom fittings, interactive television, broadband internet access from every room and welcoming staff are all details that made it a pleasure to stay here.
And conveniently located at just a couple of minutes walk from Earls Court tube, this venue is a true rose among the thorns as you leave behind the all-night grocery stores and takeaways on the high street and pass the variously maintained terraced homes curving along the Hogarth Road until you come upon this Kensington gem, like an oasis in the desert.
If you’re looking for a bit of luxury to come back to after you’ve trundled through the crowds in the sales rush, both these hotels are ideal places to stay, nay, havens to retreat to, and the temptation to return at other times of the year will be strong.