Brummell Recommends: Kimpton Fitzroy

Looming over Russell Square, the grand terracotta hotel is a satisfying mix of luxury, seafood, cocktails and coffee

Travel 7 Mar 2019

The grand terracotta exterior of the hotel, originally designed by Charles Fitzroy Doll in 1898
Fitz's bar – named after Fitzroy Doll – is the perfect spot for a glamorous nightcap
Broken Window cocktail: scotch, ancho reyes verde, Mantanilla sherry, sweet cicely cordial ad celery bitters
Palm Court: bringing the great outdoors in

The Background
Formerly The Principal London, Kimpton Fitzroy relaunched in October 2018 following an extensive restoration. Overlooking Bloomsbury’s Russell Square, the grand thé-au-lait terracotta hotel – designed by Charles Fitzroy Doll in 1898 – comprises 334 beautifully designed bedrooms and suites and a range of distinctive places to eat and drink. These include Palm Court – a stunning central space replete with greenery, perfect for a decadent afternoon tea, the opulent Fitz’s bar and Neptune – a kitsch restaurant from chef Brett Redman specialising in fish and seafood (formerly of Elliot’s in Borough Market and Jidori in Hackney).

The Room
Choosing to take the stairs instead of the lift is more than just a healthy lifestyle choice; at Kimpton Fitzroy it’s an experience in itself. Grand and marble clad, it provides all the momentum we needed to make an entrance into our second floor suite via a brass dragon guarding the hallway outside our room. There are more than 300 rooms here, ranging from City singles to suites, each designed by Tara Bernerd & Partners whose signature mix of contemporary layers and original heritage features is prevalent throughout.

Our suite was like a home from home (dream home, that is), where a neutral colour palette and luxury fabrics meet grand windows, an iron fireplace and smoky mirrors. Of course, the focal point of any suite should be the bed and this one doesn’t disappoint: grand, custom-made and surrounded by floor-to-ceiling curtains at every corner, it would be easy to abandon dinner plans, and tuck in for the duration of you stay. After a night’s sleep here, I made a mental note to myself to order a new mattress for my bed at home. The bathroom is glorious: marble and ceramic twin sinks, large windows, a giant walk-in marble shower stocked with The Perfumer’s Story toiletries (they smell divine) and the softest towels and robes. And the mini-bar, cleverly disguised as an Art-Deco-style cabinet, is full of complimentary treats, from popcorn and Green & Black’s chocolate to soft drinks and ale. The separate comfortable living space is ideal for sitting back with a coffee from the in-room Nespresso machine and a clothbound Penguin classic (part of the many amenities on offer to guests).

One of the many suites at Kimpton Fitzroy

The restaurant
We booked in to Kimpton Fitzroy’s seafood-focused restaurant Neptune for dinner. Designed by Margaret Crow and Russell Sage Studio, the Grade-II listed dining room space is warm, eclectic and kitsch with peach ceilings, Art-Deco lighting and buttery pink leather booths complemented by walnut tables and offset with the original cherub-flanked pillars circled with green palms and devil’s ivy. As well as detailing the mouthwatering selection of seafood and wood-fired dishes on offer, the menu is splashed with fun planet illustrations by transatlantic duo Craig & Karl (craigandkarl.com), which can also be found on the edges of the plates, continuing the theme.

The delectable seafood platter at Neptune

The central pewter-top oyster bar serves up oysters, caviar and towering seafood platters that are hard to ignore. We ordered half a dozen oysters – that day’s delicious selection came from Ireland and Jersey, 20g of caviar served with mini cubed hash browns and crème fraîche. The table next to us had a seafood platter layered with oysters, langoustines, scallop and mussels, and – despite enjoying the dishes we had opted for – we could feel a touch of food envy creeping in. We made up for it with our mains: the day-boat fish of brill (sweet, creamy and meaty) and the spaghetti with clams, squid and parsley with a side of moreish mashed potatoes. If the oyster bar dishes were the star of the show, the puddings came in a very close second, especially the seasonal Yorkshire rhubarb and custard tart, which prompted us to make all sorts of satisfied noises from the first mouthful. Our energetic sommelier managed to pair each dish perfectly, ending with an oft forgotten orange wine, which was too punchy to drink on its own but the perfect way to wash down our seafood-based meal.

Neptune

The bar
From the bright candy glamour of Neptune, we headed to the dark opulence of Fitz’s Bar (named after Charles Fitzroy Doll) for a nightcap. A jazz trio played a selection of sultry tunes while we pondered over the considered cocktail list by Sean Fennelly (former general manager at Milk & Honey). We perched on a velvet sofa in the shape of a scallop shell, which sat under a large glitter ball casting a flurry of lights across the room. Our knowledgeable waiter selected our drinks for us based on a quick chat about what we like to drink and the results were spot on. With a perfect balance of punchy and smooth the Orlando daiquiri (Plantation pineapple rum, lime, bay leaf, cucumber, Bloomsbury pastis, IPA) was surprisingly refreshing and unlike anything else we had tasted before. The Hive Mind (sweetdram escubac, tequila, sherry, white balsamic, propolis, soda) meanwhile was the perfect choice for anyone with a slightly stronger taste in drinks.

Fitz’s bar

The breakfast
After a most comfortable night’s sleep, we peeled ourselves out of THAT bed for breakfast. Guests have a choice of à la carte at Neptune and a buffet breakfast at the hotel’s coffeehouse and bar, Burr & Co. Keen to sample as much of the Kimpton Fitzroy as possible, we opted for the buffet: a generous selection of pastries, meats and cheeses alongside a cooked breakfast of eggs, beans, tomatoes and mushrooms. The light and bright breakfast room is the ideal place to start the day with comfortable seating and large windows connecting us to the stark London morning outside.

Burr & Co

The bill
Rooms at Kimpton Fitzroy start at £225 (including VAT) per room, per night. A meal for two at Neptune costs around £170 with wine. Cocktails at Fitz’s start from £12.

The verdict
Grand inside and out, the Kimpton Fitzroy perfectly balances the modern with the traditional while keeping the essence of London at its very heart. It is sophisticated yet unstuffy, elegant yet cool and whether or not you are planning to stay in one of its beautifully designed rooms, a meal or a drink in one of its delicious offerings is sure to please.

Kimpton Fitzroy London, 1-8 Russell Square, London WC1B 5BE; kimptonfitzroylondon.com; neptune.london; fitzs.co.uk