The Ampersand Hotel is centrally located in London’s South Kensington. So close to the tube station that when you put your ear on your pillow you can hear them rumbling deep in the bowels of the city. (Also convenient if you need to bounce your luggage down the escalators to the Piccadilly Line for Heathrow.)
It’s part of the Small Luxury Hotels group and is brand spanking new. So new, in fact, that only about half the rooms are ready. It opened in August 2012, and is a purpose-built hotel – rare for London – that has had a few incarnations over the years. The hallways are wide and lots of natural light pours into the 111 rooms through large sash windows.
The double rooms are on the small side (we slithered around the wall of our twin room with two suitcases and two pieces of hand luggage slotted around) but the public spaces are what makes this hotel quite breathtaking.
Enter the main lobby and head straight for the tea room. The wall paper is big and bold and artist Georgia Fiennes, who specialises in animals, has created quirky, colourful paintings of delicate tea cups and cocktail glasses with safari animals sitting in them. I particularly loved this one with the ostrich.
In fact the art is what I loved most about the Ampersand. Its so very different: a chandelier stretching 5 floors high is a pole of lightbulbs adorned with angel wings; partridge feathers arranged in a circle inside a box frame; a map of London cut into delicate lace…
The basement restaurant, Apero, is the place to come for dinner – I was told. But not until we were about to leave! I’d had breakfast there both mornings and loved the apricots in orange syrup so much, the chef came out to tell me how he makes it. He also brought me a little sample of afternoon tea as I was not going to be around to experience it from 2.30pm. But afternoon tea is one of the best reasons to come. Huge fluffy meringues with berries, cakes and slices all taken in these girly surrounds on chairs you’ll want to freight home.
The Ampersand is only about 20 metres from South Kensington tube station surrounded by cafes (try Muriel’s Kitchen for great homemade food in a 1960s kitchen feel).
Within walking distance is the Victoria & Albert museum, the Science Museum, Harrods, the Natural History Museum – and plenty of Boris bikes to take off through Hyde Park for some fresh London air! (Read my blog about riding a Boris Bike here>>>)