Background US hotel group Thompson operates around a dozen properties in the US and Canada, including the Smyth Tribeca and 6 Columbus in New York, the Thompson Toronto, and the recently refurbished Hollywood Roosevelt (for a review click here). The Belgraves is Thompson’s first hotel in London, indeed its first outside North America, and is housed within the former Sheraton Belgravia on Chesham Place.
What’s it like? The exterior of the property has been smartened up, but it’s inside where the real work has been done. Public areas including the lobby and Mark’s Bar have been transformed with exposed brick and padded leather walls, designer furniture, colourful rugs, and various pieces of artwork and sculptures by British artists including Miranda Donovan and Rachel Howard.
The lobby features three pieces by Natasha Law hanging above a blue velvet sofa (see below), picturing line drawings of semi-clad women for which she is well known, while in the hotel’s restaurant, Hix Belgravia, small stuffed animals hang suspended by helium balloons within glass surrounds, created by taxidermist Polly Morgan – perhaps not to everyone’s taste. Duo Tim Noble and Sue Webster meanwhile have created the neon logo for Mark’s Bar.
The effect of all this artwork is to make the public areas feel like a very high-end apartment, with the concierge sat behind a large, expensive looking writing desk. Reception staff and the duty manager I met were all young, well dressed, and friendly, although there did seem to be a certain amount of confusion about why I would need to hand over a piece of photo ID to be scanned at check-in, for “security purposes”.
Where is it? On the corner of Chesham Place and Pont Street in London’s Belgravia district, around ten minutes’ walk from Knightsbridge and Sloane Square underground stations, and Victoria railway / underground station. The hotel joins other prestigious properties in the area including the Cadogan, Jumeirah Carlton Towers, and its sister hotel the Jumeirah Lowndes.
Room facilities In contrast to the plethora of artwork throughout the public areas of the hotel, rooms have none at all. Décor is muted, with beiges and creams being the main colours scheme, with brushed wood flooring and a patterned rug surrounding the bed, and a large mirror hung behind the bed to help create a feeling of space.
My King Premium room made clever use of the window alcoves, with a purple corner sofa and armchair in each, blackout blinds, and floor-to-ceiling curtains which can be pulled across in front of the seating areas, to create a bedroom feeling at night. There was also a coffee table with magazines including Wallpaper and Time Out, and an ottoman at the end of the bed.
The stylish workdesks are fairly small, but include international sockets, and wired internet access (wired and wifi is charged at £15 per day). Other room features include an LCD flatscreen TV, iHome docking station and alarm, minibar, safe, iron and ironing board, hairdryer and bathrobes.
King Superior rooms start from 23sqm, with the Kind Deluxe category at 28sqm, King Premium at 30sqm, Studio suites at 44sqm and the penthouse at 70sqm.
Bathrooms have white and grey marble floors and walls, and the majority of rooms have walk-in showers only (with a choice of rain or normal shower heads), although selected King Deluxe, King Premium and suite categories have bathtubs. Bathroom amenities are by Penhaligon’s of London – when I arrived there was no shower gel in my room, so I noted this with the front desk when I went out, and when I got back a few hours later two bottles were sitting by the bathroom basin.
Restaurants and bars Hix Belgravia is British chef Mark Hix’s third London outlet, joining Hix in Soho, and Hix Oyster and Chop House close to Smithfield Market. Created by British designer Tara Bernerd, décor here is black and white mosaic flooring, with curved booths in the ground-floor windows, bronze-effect lampshades, and more artwork by Natasha Law, Matt Colllishaw and Henry Hudson.
I wasn’t able to eat at the restaurant for dinner, but the menu includes choices such as a starter of crispy baby squid with chilli, garlic & almonds (£10.50), and mains of fillet of Hereford beef on the bone (£36.50), and honey-roasted Swainson House Farm duck with apples, celery and cider brandy (£22.50). Breakfast is also served here, and is an a la carte offering. Service was swift, with three different waiters taking our order, serving juices and coffees, and bringing our dishes,
Mark’s Bar is located on the mezzanine floor, and is laid out with several seating areas featuring large sofas, fireplaces, book shelves, wooden floors and rugs, and a bar area serving cocktails and “bar snax” including chips and curry sauce, caviar choices, and a few of the dishes on the Hix Belgravia menu such as ground rib steak burger (£16.75).
There is also a covered “smoking garden” with lounge seating and a cigar menu.
Business and meeting facilities There is a first-floor boardroom style meeting room next to Mark’s Bar, with natural daylight looking out onto Pont Street, and accommodating up to 24 delegates.
Leisure facilities The first-floor gym is a decent size for a hotel of this size, and is accessible 24 hours per day by key card.
Verdict Cosy public areas and comfortable rooms, the Belgraves is a good addition to the Knightsbridge / Belgravia hotel scene. The eclectic artwork may not be to everyone’s taste, but the hotel’s public areas certainly cannot be accused of being bland.
How many rooms? 85, of which 12 are King Superior rooms, 23 are King Deluxe, 29 are King Premium, seven are Double Premium, and the rest are suites of varying categories.
Room highlights International power sockets for business travellers, large walk-in showers, and the corner sofas in the King Premium room categories.
Price Internet rates for a flexible midweek stay in mid-May started from £263 for a King Superior room.
Contact Belgraves, 20 Chesham Place, London SW1X 8HQ; tel +44 (0) 20 7858 0100; thompsonhotels.com