Tried & Tested

Hotel review: Holmes Hotel London

28 Jul 2019 by Mark Caswell
Entrance to Holmes Hotel London

Background

Business Traveller last reviewed this property way back in 2006, when it was known as the Sherlock Holmes Hotel – at the time we described it as “A real find, centrally located and a good price”. Following a recent refurbishment project the property has been renamed simply as Holmes Hotel London, retaining its link to the fictional private detective created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

The hotel falls under the Park Plaza Hotels and Resorts portfolio, which in turn is owned by the Radisson Hotel Group. It is one of eight Park Plaza properties in London, including the Park Plaza County Hall London, the Park Plaza London Waterloo, and the Park Plaza Victoria London.

Holmes Hotel London

What’s it like?

Themed hotels are not usually at the top of my list of must-stay properties, and I was slightly concerned that Holmes might be a somewhat tacky pastiche of late nineteenth century London.

But any fears were assuaged the moment I step into the hotel’s stylish reception area, with staff sat behind low desks and an immediate offer of a refreshingly cool cucumber and mint tea while we checked in.

Yes, the hotel is full of Holmes-inspired collectors items, artwork, sculptures, antiques and curiosities, but it’s all been done so tastefully that nothing feels cluttered, and the pieces complement rather than jar against the modern furniture and furnishings by designers including Tom Dixon, Muuto and Mourne Textiles.

The property is an amalgamation of four Georgian buildings, resulting in lots of pockets of rooms throughout the ground floor, where guests can relax, admire the scenery and look for “clues” which have been dotted around the property (although I have to admit I wasn’t entirely sure what exactly I was trying to solve).

Holmes Hotel London

Where is it?

A couple of minutes’ walk from Baker Street Underground Station, which is served by five lines – Bakerloo, Circle, Hammersmith and City, Jubilee, and Metropolitan.

The main entrance to the property is on Chiltern Street, while Kitchen at Holmes can be accessed either through the hotel, or via its own entrance on Baker Street.

Holmes Hotel London

Rooms

As you would expect with a converted property of this nature, no two rooms are exactly the same, but the inventory is divided into eight categories, from Cosy Rooms measuring 15-18 sqm, through Superior (18-21 sqm), Deluxe and Heritage Deluxe (21-25 sqm), Studio, Townhouse and Chiltern Townhouse Suites (all 29-35 sqm), and finally the Townhouse Loft Suites.

This last category is set to be unveiled in the coming weeks, and will offer 50 sqm of living space across two floors, with features including roll top baths, a separate walk-in shower, and a record player with LPs.

I was staying in a Heritage Deluxe room, a category characterised by Georgian period features including high ceilings and large windows looking out onto Baker Street.

Facilities included free wifi, a Revo SuperSignal digital radio, 49-inch TV, safe, minibar, Nespresso coffee machine, kettle, luggage rack and workdesk with normal plus and USB ports.

Our room also had a black leather sofabed, complete with leather cushions (a little too much leather for a hot summer’s day).

A room at Holmes Hotel London

The smart, white marble bathroom had a walk-in shower with monsoon and standard attachments (some rooms have bathtubs), Guild and Pepper amenities by Gilchrist and Soames, and a large mist-free mirror with the words “I can see you crystal clear” embossed along the bottom.

I was particularly impressed with the plush grey bathrobe and thickly padded slippers, the latter of which were of a much higher quality than the standard disposable slippers found in most hotel rooms.

Decor was bright and minimal, with light wood flooring, sleek curved black lines from the minibar, full length mirror and TV surround, and splashes of yellow from the bed cushions.

Like the rest of the hotel, rooms are stylish and furnishings feel high-end – my only grumble was that the blown up prints on the bed headboards (of bowler hats, magnifying glasses, pipes, umbrellas, etc) felt a little generic and at odds with the individual pieces dotted around the rest of the property.

A room at Holmes Hotel London

Restaurants and bars

The hotel’s revamp has seen a new restaurant and bar open under the name Kitchen at Holmes, run by head chef Stefano Motta.

Guests accessing the space via the hotel enter at a sort of midway point between the restaurant and bar, while those coming in via the Baker Street entrance will see the bar first.

The all-day dining restaurant has a vague “Food for Londoners” focus, although with the capital being such a diverse city I felt this could mean almost anything. In practice the menu has been split into various sections including:

  • “Raw” (examples being yellow fin tuna tartare, and Scottish scallop and yuzu)
  • “Aged and smoked” (wild boar salami, smoked eel)
  • “Fritti” (jamon Iberico croquettes, aubergine tempura)
  • “Stir fry” (purple sprouting broccoli with bok choy, Adriatic cuttlefish)
  • “Pan or roasted” (Norwegian organic roasted salmon, Welsh Herdwick breaded lamb escalopes)
  • “Salads” (king crab and avaocado, sweet potato and kale, and
  • “Grill” (Wagu rump steak, Dover sole, and sea bream to share).

The full menu can be seen on the restaurant’s website here.

Kitchen at Holmes

I visited the restaurant with my wife on a Saturday mid-afternoon, and there were a handful of tables occupied. We both wanted to have a light meal – I chose the Scottish scallop to start, which was refreshing, with a interesting mix of sweet and savoury flavours, followed by the king crab salad which was packed with juicy chunks of crab, crunchy sweetcorn and just a hint of tabasco.

My wife is vegan, and was impressed that there were several choices – she opted for the purple sprouting broccoli and bok choy stir fry, which came with a delicious quinoa and saffron curry, and the sweet potato and kale salad with bitter chicory leaves and creamy cashews.

At the far end of the restaurant is an island counter which doubles up as as a display for breakfast items, and as an open kitchen prep area for the chefs. The overall feel of the restaurant is of a homely space, with warm lighting, poppy print curtains and framed botanical prints on the walls.

The bar has also created five signature cocktails, including Case Closed, and Sherlock’s Pipe, the latter of which is served in a pipe-shaped glass and contains Talisker, Johnnie Walker Black, smoked Martini Rubino (to give it that pipe-like feel), Campari, and Pimento Dram liqueur.

The Holmes Hotel London website also lists the 106 Baker Street Cafe as “a casual Marylebone café, famous for its freshly prepared salads, pastries, sandwiches, quiches, and hot and cold entrees that rotate daily”. The cafe is located next to Kitchen at Holmes, but is run as a standalone venue from the hotel.

The bar at Kitchen at Holmes

Meetings

The hotel has three meeting spaces accommodating up to 70 people – I wasn’t able to see these during my stay as they were in use. I was also told that they are due to get a refresh as part of the wider revamp of the hotel, but no information is available on this at present.

Leisure

For those looking for something more energetic than wandering the hotel looking for clues, Piggy Doyle’s Gym can be found on the basement level.

Again this space has been stylishly fitted out, with a punching bag and atlas stones clad in leather to give it the feel of an old school boxing gym.

Piggy Doyles Gym at Holmes Hotel London

The facility has been kitted out by NOHrD, a firm specialising in wooden fitness equipment, with items including a self-powered curved wooden treadmill, and a water rowing machine. I didn’t get a chance to try out any of the equipment, but was impressed with the look  – hotel gyms can often be sterile spaces, and this certainly isn’t.

Even the name has had some thought put into it – Piggy Doyle was Arthur Conan Doyle’s boxing nickname.

Holmes Hotel London

Verdict

If you’re a fan of Sherlock Holmes and / or Arthur Conan Doyle, this hotel is a treasure trove of artwork, memorabilia and clues that will keep you busy throughout your stay.

But even if you’re not, Holmes Hotel London is a stylish, well thought out property with an excellent restaurant and bar, and a great choice if you’re looking to be based in the Marylebone district of the capital.

FACT FILE

  • Best for Immersing yourself in the world of Sherlock Holmes
  • Don’t miss The stylish Piggy Doyle’s Gym
  • Price Internet rates for a flexible midweek stay in mid-September started from £339 for a Cosy double room
  • Contact Holmes Hotel London, 83 Chiltern Street, London,W1U 6NF; tel: +44 (0)333 400 6136; holmeshotel.com
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