Well, this sure is a handy way of storing one’s teapots, but of course they thus become decorative rather than useful. Such luxury hotels as Jumeirah Frankfurt and W Hong Kong have, and highly successfully, stored stacks and rows of white china in their restaurants, but this, at Fleming’s Mayfair, London, is the first time the gal has seen a suite used to ‘store’ china. Congratulations to the designers, Helen Fewster and Rebecca Tucker of Suna, for coming up with something original, especially in a hotel that dates back to 1851.
In fact the 129-room privately-owned hotel, a join-together of six terrace houses, is a gem. It is in Half Moon Street, two minutes’ walk to the north from a Scientology church (not useful) and two minutes’ walk, to the south, to Piccadilly (HIGHLY useful – cross the street and straight into Green Park and you are outside the official home of Her Majesty, Buckingham Palace, in another five minutes). No wonder Americans just love this heritage hotel. It shows English style from more than 160 years back. Corridors, for instance, are rather twee but some are hung with stunning glamour photos of past celebrities.
The Grill, below ground, has fabulous healthy brown bread, Ferme des Peupliers yoghurts and English Netherend Farm wrapped butters, at breakfast. At lunch and dinner, some dishes are chosen by culinary teacher Rosemary Shrager, star of Ladette to Lady television – and, guess what, they offer a choice of chips. Go for thick hand-cut English chips or thin-thin French fries, served in a silver cup. Put’em with battered fish for fish and chips, or a perfectly-cooked rib-eye, with your choice of sauce and sides. There is a sexy intimate bar at one end of The Grill, and at the other is the Looking-Glass Room, which also looks out, into greenery.
Oliver Brown, GM of the hotel, says that the Looking-Glass Room is ideal for hen parties. Last week they brought in a male stripper. He arrived fully clad, made his exit, nude, through the kitchen. That must have stirred up the chefs somewhat. But they are used to surprises. Some days 50 or more, obviously not expecting a male stripper, come into the hotel, and down the stairs to the windowless Grill, for afternoon tea. Since breakfast toast is served in silver racks, undoubtedly afternoon tea comes on elegant china, with single-bite sandwiches and cakes and whatever else Ladies Who Lunch then go on to Absorb At Tea.
Interestingly this is one of seven Small Luxury Hotels in London and it does sum up those words. It feels intimate, because of the complexity of the floor lay-out, and the delightful bijou quality of, say, the library leading off the main lobby. Luxury comes up again and again. You might be met, and escorted to your room, by the head of the three-woman guest services team, Branca Sabbagh, who signs the keycard booklet: on your way to your room she will tell you the history of the hotel, and share pride in the new apartments (suites, with Siemens kitchens – 707, in shades of dark teal and champagne, has those teapots, a display of working wall-hung clocks, and paintings).
It seems to me that this is an ideal hotel for kids. Bring your little ones, or grandparents bring two other generations. Kids are welcomed with one of two books on Fleming Frog, the last one written by a team-member, Yolanda Garcia-Morris, after an internal competition. Fleming appears everywhere, even on the kids’ menu – try Fleming’s fish fingers with fries, and drink The Frog Prince kiss, elderflower cordial, ginger ale and kiwi kisses. Some proud parents and grandparents might then wheel their little darling along to Buckingham Palace, in the vain hope of seeing Prince George.