Background Although one of the oldest hotels in London, Flemings is a bit of a secret, centrally located off Piccadilly with 129 rooms. The hotel is made up of six town houses knocked into one five-star hotel, and after a huge renovation it’s a quirky, quite fashionable place. In May 2012 the hotel renovated a final town house into an exclusive seven-bedroom property divided into two apartments and two suites, for either single use by a corporate or perhaps a very large or extended family.
What’s it like? Although you can rent the whole Townhouse (for prices starting at £3,500), you can also individually rent the suites. We were offered the two-bedroom, ground and basement flat – 601 – also known as the Diamond Suite, to try out.
A code for the front door lets you in to a hallway with traditional black and white tiled floor, and a standard hotel key card then lets you into the first floor room, which is split into two with a sitting room or lounge at the front of the building looking out on to the street, and a dining room with a small kitchen with dishwasher, washing machine and fridge at the back. The front room and dining room had pale wooden floors, modern art, textured and patterned wallpaper, a deep turquoise velvet sofa and a large flatscreen TV.
The furnishings are very luxurious and tasteful but in a slightly anonymous way. We loved the furniture and wallpaper, but then were puzzled by two bookcases with books obviously bought by the yard for their embossed leather spines. The renovation has meant there are lots of plugs for the electrical devices we all carry with us these days, and I simply plugged in my laptop and worked in front of the TV, after making a coffee from the Nespresso machine in the kitchen. The fridge came lightly stocked, and there was a small welcome pack of cereals, bread and milk, as you’d get with a serviced apartment.
Throughout our stay, the staff were superb – personable, friendly and ready to go the extra mile when things went wrong, which they did. The lounge has a giant Samsung 3D-capable TV, and a Blu-ray player, and when we were shown around on arrival we were told that a member of staff would bring us some Blu-ray discs and glasses to show how this worked. Unfortunately, when the time came early that evening, there were no discs available so they offered to go out and buy some more, and then there was a prolonged struggle to make the very complicated system work (there are four remote controls for the various entertainment gadgets in the room). They did succeed, however, so full marks there.
Where is it? On Half Moon Street, close to Shepherd’s Market but on a reasonably quiet street considering you are a short walk both from Green Park Tube and Hyde Park Corner. On the other side of the street is the Hilton Green Park.
Room facilities The two bedrooms had lots of plugs, an easy-to-use lighting system, large flatscreen televisions and an integrated iPod charger with a stereo and radio. Each room had plenty of wardrobe space for a short stay, hairdryers and an en suite bathroom – one with a freestanding roll-top tub, the other with a double walk-in shower. My two children were impressed by the thought behind the small bathrobes with hoods and mini slippers, and a book was delivered in the evening detailing the adventures of the Flemings Frog (I’m not sure of the provenance of this because I didn’t read it).
So far so good. Nevertheless, either because the fixtures and fittings are relatively new (three months at the time of our stay), or because of the heavy use they get, there were several issues. People tend to stay in an apartment because they want to be able to fix their own simple meals rather than eat out or in the hotel every night. We were there only one night, and I’m sure if we had stayed longer would have requested, for instance, a teapot to go along with the Nespresso maker and perhaps some mugs to go along with the tea cups. Other items that would have been useful would have included a tea towel, a metal tray for the oven so we could warm up some food and a larger Brabantia bin than the bathroom-sized provided (we bagged up our rubbish in a plastic bag and left it next to this).
More seriously, the bedside light in one of the rooms was broken, the plastic surround to the shower doors was also coming away, meaning water sprayed out on to the floor, and the extractor fan for that room was extremely noisy and came on whenever the light for the bathroom was turned on, and then remained on for at least 45 minutes meaning even with the door shut, it was a disturbance.
The double shower had two large rain heads so you can share it with a friend, though there was nowhere to put the White Company amenities or soap when in there, and no dish against the wall, so you have to place them on the floor. There was also only one basin. Finally, upstairs, the tall, looping mixer tap in the kitchen was completely loose, so if you turned it on, it flew off and water gushed all over you, the kitchen basin and the walls of the kitchen.
Being on the ground floor we were also at the mercy of the family above, who had some very energetic children who ran around and jumped so violently the elegant chandelier in the dining room actually shook while we were sitting there, for the whole time they were active, which, thankfully, was only for an hour or so.
All the doors in the apartment were fire doors with vigorous closing mechanisms so there was never any doubt where anyone was in the apartment. The front door to the property also closed with an astonishingly loud slam (as indeed did the door to our own apartment). The last time someone entered or exited the Townhouse was a little after 3am. And I’m quite a heavy sleeper.
The windows weren’t double glazed, so if you are not used to the noises of Central London, that can be a problem, especially since the dustbin lorry is outside at 0645, but that’s true of many properties, particularly in historic buildings such as this one, and the same goes for the noise – more a rumble, of the underground trains passing along the Piccadilly line from Green Park to Hyde Park Corner and back again – more noticeable in these basement bedrooms.
This apartment also had a courtyard sitting area with a barbecue, which we did not use, but it would have been useful, if a little soulless, for a cigarette or cigar, or if you had the whole Townhouse, to hold a party – there was also an area that could be set up as a bar.
Restaurants and bars The main hotel next door has both a restaurant and bar, accessed from the street. We only had breakfast, in the Grill, which was delicious.
Business and meeting facilities There isn’t a dedicated office in the Townhouse, but there is free wifi throughout and lots of areas to work.
Leisure facilities If you stay, you can use the gym in the hotel.
Verdict There’s a lot to like about the Townhouse, and if we had stayed several days I’m sure the staff would have been able to fix some of the problems, but for the price, the problems should not have been there in the first place. It’s possible to have fire doors that don’t slam, and the apartment needed someone to have a good look at it and fix the broken items. That said the service was excellent.
Room highlights The free wifi and flatscreen TVs.
Price From £1,300 per night for a two-bedroom apartment.
Contact Flemings Hotel, Half Moon Street, Mayfair, London; +44 (0) 20 7499 0000; flemings-mayfair.co.uk