Words By Lindsey Tramuta, © 2018 New York Times News Service
14-15 Henrietta St., London; henriettahotel.com
From around 250 pounds, or about $333.
Following the success of its first hotel in Paris, the Experimental Group, credited with putting the French capital on the world’s craft cocktail map with its bars, made its foray into London’s dense hotel market last June with the Henrietta. Dorothée Meilizchon, the group’s longtime partner who designed its Grand Pigalle Hôtel in Paris, was given carte blanche to dream up the interior for the property’s 18 rooms and suites and two-story restaurant, set in two converted 19th-century townhouses in Covent Garden.
In a refreshing departure from the floral-heavy English country style common to many of the classic properties nearby, Meilizchon went with an art deco design that incorporates nods to the neighbourhood’s former produce market, like a rich green colour palette and terra-cotta tiles, but hews to her signature penchant for graphic fabrics, vintage pieces and custom furnishings. And like its Parisian sibling, the Henrietta is designated a Bed & Beverage by the group, which means creative cocktails take pride of place in the hotel lounge and in minibars.
In the heart of Covent Garden, steps from the piazza’s high-end boutiques and restaurants and only a five-to-10-minute walk to West End theatres and museums like the Royal Opera House, the Lyceum Theatre and the National Portrait Gallery.
While each room is slightly different in layout and design, they all have retro-chic touches: velvet armchairs, brass bedside lamps, hexagonal upholstered headboards inspired by Milanese door frames, terrazzo-patterned carpets and Carrara marble skirting. The Grand Henrietta room, where I stayed, sits on the top floor and was elegantly furnished with a blush pink love seat, a desk doubling as a dressing table, a spacious armoire for storage and thick grey blackout curtains, which enhanced my restful night’s sleep. But the standout feature was the unobstructed view across the city to the London Eye Ferris wheel, best experienced from the room’s private balcony.
The en-suite double bathroom, equipped with a rainfall shower and a sizable claw foot bathtub, was done up in pastel pink, black and white tiles and retro globe lights that could easily be dimmed. The unique touch here was the mixed selection of bath products that rotate daily from brands like Ren, Sachajuan, John Master Organic and Malin & Goetz.
Beyond the expected features, like free Wi-Fi, there were a handful of others that caught my attention: a Revo digital radio, and a well-stocked minibar with cold-pressed juices, kombucha, coconut water and local snacks as well as ready-to-drink house cocktails (not included in the room rate). In the absence of an on-site fitness centre, guests can take advantage of the hotel’s partnership with Fitness First for complimentary gym access. Also free is the shoe polish offered at Joseph Cheaney and Sons, across the street from the hotel.
Room service is offered 24 hours every day (my dish arrived in under 20 minutes, warm and artfully plated) but the culinary draw is the 80-seat ground floor restaurant, Henrietta Bistro.
At the time of my visit, it was overseen by Ollie Dabbous, one of London’s most acclaimed chefs, which turned the Henrietta into a dining destination among locals and pre-theatre crowds. The restaurant has a southwestern French- and Corsican-inspired menu and a new chef at the helm: Sylvain Roucayrol, formerly of Bar Boulud and Experimental’s wine bar La Compagnie des Vins Surnaturels. Tables are also reserved for hotel guests at the group’s sister bars like Experimental Cocktail Club Chinatown.
The Bottom Line
This is a stylish addition to London’s mushrooming selection of boutique hotels, with a distinctly Parisian sensibility and a well-executed food and beverage program.
Featured Image: Karel Balas, The New York Times