Stepping into London’s Milestone Hotel is like stepping back in time to a bygone era in England, with molded ceilings, lattice windows and polished walnut wainscoting reminders that this property dates back more than three hundred years.
The five-floor, brown-block luxury hotel first opened in the 1920s is named after the old cast-iron milestone standing outside and consists of three elegant Victorian townhouses, with attractive original artifacts, including carved window frames and a black-and-white checkered floor.
Overlooking Kensington Gardens and a short walk from the Royal Albert Hall, the property features delightful nooks and narrow hallways all emblazoned with vases of bright carnations, including the elevator and bathrooms. The flower displays indicate the hotel is a member of the family-owned ‘Red Carnation Collection’ (RCH) established by Stanley and Bea Tollman who first opened properties in South Africa in the mid-1950s. The RCH has since evolved into 17 luxurious hotels in places such as Guernsey, Dorset, Ireland, Geneva, Florida, as well as London and South Africa.
Located on Kensington Road where it turns into Kensington High Street, the Milestone comprises 44 deluxe guest rooms, 12 luxury suites and six long-stay apartments. Overall decoration is elaborate, with flowing fabrics, cushions, thick, patterned carpets and framed pictures on patterned walls. For example, a narrow corridor leading to the ground-floor breakfast room and restaurant, Cheneston’s (derived from an early spelling of ‘Kensington’), is adorned with a series of framed horse-racing images as well as an amusing collection of French caricatures. An ornate polished wood balustrade leads to rooms above.
Our room, 301, was a deluxe studio with twin verandah doors leading out on to a small terrace bordered by a hedge. Surrounding houses blocked out traffic noise from the busy Kensington High Street, offering a relaxing sense of serenity. Its walls were bountifully decorated with twenty or more framed prints – both simple pencil sketches and color-crayon etchings – of flowers and plants. Padded wallpaper, comfy upholstery that included a cozy armchair and matching footstool, large-screen television, a corner palm plant, a magazine rack, a work desk and a coffee table combined to create a stylish, old-world ambience. Interestingly, a small box filled with office supplies including tape, scissors, stapler, elastic bands, colored markers, a rubber, pencil sharpener and a ruler were left for our convenience.
Among the other accommodation offers are themed suites such as ‘Safari,’ where a canvas canopy adorns the ceiling with a large bed draped in curtains of natural earthy tones below and artwork including ‘An African Elephant and Her Calf’ by wildlife artist Jonathan Truss, as well as ‘Venetian,’ with an array of Venetian artwork depicting traditional cityscapes such as the famous Grand Canal, decorative handheld fans and seating upholstered in velvet.
Aside from fine-dining in the Cheneston’s restaurant, incorporating dishes from the owner’s cookbook, ‘Bea Tollman – A Life in Food’ such as chicken pot pie, and the chef’s Scandinavian dishes, a light menu can also be enjoyed in the split-level ‘Stables Bar.’ Try the traditional afternoon tea in the charming, book-lined, parlor-like atmosphere of the ‘Conservatory’ with an open fireplace above which is a large portrait of famous English actor Noël Coward judiciously observing all before him.
The Milestone also offers sauna and heated resistance pool facilities, 24-hour butler service and complimentary WiFi. Indicating its keenness to satisfy guests’ every whim, an exhaustive ‘Guest Preference Form’ is sent in advance with questions ranging from choice of pillow to that of fruit juice as welcome drinks.
A charming hotel custom is the assortment of bedtime gifts bestowed on guests such as a miniature reading lamp and a pillow spray. In our case, additional kudos are warranted for the creative welcome cupcakes engraved with our names on the plate ready for us upon room arrival. Another attraction is the sincere friendliness of staff, who are warmly welcoming, enthusiastic and informative.
The Milestone ticks the boxes for those seeking a sense of old England with luxurious furnishings and a location that’s convenient to shopping districts, green areas and the lively West End.