The Franklin Hotel first opened in the early 1990s, within four combined Victorian townhouses on Egerton Gardens in Knightsbridge.
The property had been closed for several years before being acquired by Italian hotel group Starhotels and reopened in August. Renovation works have seen the room count lowered from around 50 to 35 rooms, and the interiors have been created by Anouska Hempel, responsible for London’s Blakes Hotel and The Hempel (the latter of which closed in 2013).
Starhotels also counts London’s The Gore and The Pelham within its portfolio, as well as The Castille in Paris, The Michaelangelo in New York, and around a dozen hotels in Italy.
WHAT’S IT LIKE?
The entrance to the hotel is very discreet, so much so that we nearly walked past it – there is no formal reception area, but we were immediately greeted by a member of staff and invited to check-in at a large round marble table.
Decor throughout the hotel is predominantly monochrome, with varying shades of grey from the marble and limestone floors, Italian velvet upholstery, grey and cream wall hangings, and mirror framed prints.
The property backs onto peaceful communal residential gardens (which the hotel does not have access to), which gives the restaurant and garden-view rooms an almost country estate feel, although it was slightly odd to open our curtains to see children playing with their trikes and scooters on the grass.
It’s early days, and the hotel is experiencing a few teething issues – the lifts were working only intermittently during our stay, and my partner discovered a leak in the ladies’ cloakroom which meant it had to be closed to guests.
But staff were excellent – polite, apologetic for these issues, and on hand to help – whether it be lugging enormous looking suitcases up the narrow staircases, or escorting guests to alternative cloakroom facilities. The hotel was also fully booked on the night we stayed, which is a good sign.
WHERE IS IT?
Just off Egerton Crescent, reportedly one of the most expensive streets in the world, around five minutes walk from South Kensington Underground station, and just off the main Cromwell Road link from Heathrow airport. The hotel is also a couple of minutes walk from the Natural History, Victoria and Albert and Science museums.
Due to the nature of the building no two rooms are identical, with superior rooms ranging from around 18 to 24 sqm, and deluxe rooms measuring around 25 sqm.
Hempel has created two room design types – the mirror room with a distressed mirror-framed bed, mirrored drawers, and mirror-framed artworks of dried flowers (if this sounds gaudy, don’t worry, it isn’t), and the wire bed room, with a wrought iron four poster bed, and large art nouveau style mirrors.
Features include hardwood floors, Frette Italian linen, free wifi, safe, air conditioning, blackout blinds, and large flatscreen TVs with built-in Apple TV (I didn’t have an Apple device with which to try this out via the app). Most superior rooms have combined bathroom and shower, although a couple have walk-in showers only, and toiletries are by Penhaligon. Some suites feature a large wet room with bathtub, double rain showers and TVs built into the mirror.
Our room featured a print of the hotel’s emblem, with the name “Joseph Herrmann” inside it. This was repeated around 20 times around the room (a little over the top to be honest). It’s not a name I was familiar with, so asked a member of staff, and they said that Herrmann was “a friend” of Lord Egerton, after which the street is named.
RESTAURANTS AND BARS
The Franklin Restaurant by Alfredo Russo features dishes created by the Italian Michelin-starred chef and owner of Dolce Stil Novo restaurant within The Palace of Venaria near Turin.
Antipasti choices include the delicious polenta taragna with taleggio cheese and wild mushrooms (£15), while Secondi options include a rack of lamb casserole with roasted carrots and licorice (£28), and the wonderfully light sea bass with tomatoes, red onion and basil.
Decor continues the monochrome feel of the rest of the hotel – apparently Anouska Hempel had dined in the restaurant earlier that week, and complained that the lighting was too harsh to fully show off her design, so the main lights had been switched off and replaced with table candles. This certainly gave the restaurant a more intimate feel, but for me the lighting was so subdued that it was hard to read the menu at times.
Note that at present the restaurant is only open to hotel guests, although it is hoped this will be extended to non-residents later this year.
Breakfast is also served here, and in daylight the gardens provide a pleasant backdrop. Continental breakfast is served on a tiered stand in the style of afternoon tea, and a la carte options include baked eggs, tenderstem broccoli and Italian sausage cooked in a skillet.
Adjacent to the restaurant there is a champagne and cocktail bar, offering seven different champagnes and 22 types of gin.
The Library is due to open at the end of September, and will be available for receptions for up to 40 guests, or as a private dining space for 14 to 18 people.
On the basement level there is a gym with natural light, which is now open to guests, as well as a hammam and spa treatment rooms which were still being finished when I visited.
When it is not in use for events, the Library will be available for guests to relax in, and will feature an open fire.
A peaceful setting, impeccable service and beautiful design both in the rooms and public spaces. If you are keen to use the leisure facilities check ahead with the hotel that they have opened.
An introductory rate of £400 per night including breakfast is currently available for midweek stays in October.
Starhotels operates the “I Am Star” loyalty programme, which offers up to 20 per cent off rates, as well points which can be redeemed against reward nights. For more information click here.