An impromptu master class in mixology courtesy of award-winning Salvatore Maggio proved to be one of the highlights of a stay at the glamorous and quintessentially Italian Baglioni Hotel opposite London’s Kensington Palace and Gardens.
Located near the Royal Albert Hall, this 5-star property celebrates La Dolce Vita with black and white photographs honoring the stars of art, cinema and fashion such as Sophia Loren, adorning a panel in the lobby, as well as on bedroom walls.
Creative elegance throughout is reflected in stylish, Murano glass candelabras and a magnificent fireplace in the ground-floor Brunello Restaurant and Lounge; a flowing ‘water-on-glass’ fixture inside the main entrance representing the iconic fountains of Italy’s piazza; walls lined with gold leaf symbolising the southern European nation’s glorious sunshine; and tall ornate brass vases throughout the property.
Corridors are adorned with deep crimson carpet and fabric wallpaper, with abstract artwork comprised of shapes formed by lights shining on white empty canvasses.
Our junior suite, with a leather padded door and narrow interior hallway, was best described as ‘cool chic’ reminiscent of the golden age of Italian cinema, with a vivid colour scheme of black, cappuccino and gold, polished floors, a brass bathroom sink from Morocco and two standing white porcelain vases either side of a striped sofa. An eclectic collection of framed photographs decorated the walls including one of a fashion model amid a herd of elephants.
Double wooden doors led from the sitting room to a cozy bedroom, with a theatrical-style vanity mirror in one corner, two floor-to-ceiling cupboards and a padded gold divan against one wall, piled with cushions.
Two oversized trumpets stood on what resembled black wooden hatboxes either side of the bed.
Such is the room’s panache, bedroom slippers were black, not the usual white, with the hotel’s name brandished on them in flourishing gold letters. As in other parts of the hotel, bronze statuettes enliven shelf space.
Set in an original Victorian building, some of the hotel’s 67 rooms and suites also have fireplaces and private terraces.
The most prestigious option is the ‘Royal Suite’ on the first floor, covering 240 square meters with three bedrooms, four bathrooms, two reception rooms and a large terrace overlooking Kensington Gardens, with a butler service.
A highlight of a stay at the Bagnioli is its traditional afternoon tea, served in the ground-floor restaurant on soft armchairs with fine views across the street to the park. In warm weather, a checker-tiled outdoor terrace with wrought iron chairs and tables is used. Nine types of teas are offered including superior Oolong semi- fermented tea, grown in Formosa, rich and elegant with aromas of nuts and fruits; and caffeine-free, Tarry Lapsang Souchong, consisting of Granny’s garden fresh rhubarb, with the sweetness of Bourbon vanilla.
In addition to standard English sandwiches, the hotel also offers its own Mediterranean version, tasty focaccia with fillings such as courgettes, aubergine and fennel and tomatoes, mozzarella and oregano; Italian Parma ham wrapped around grissini, and bruschetta with bresaola, rucola and cheese. Desserts include Opera cake, beignets, tiramisu and raspberry mousse cake, all served on tableware by Schonwald of Germany.
Hotel services include a chauffeur-driven car, a spa using Elemis and Jessica brands, and a small gym.
The Baglioni London is one of nine hotels in the group, which celebrated its 40th anniversary in 2014. These include five properties in Italy and three in France, with others planned for the Middle East (Morocco) and the US (New York).
With its elegant furnishings and colourful ambiance, the Baglioni Hotel is a warm and attractive destination, with friendly service to match and convenient to the nearby Knightsbridge and Kensington shopping areas.