If you’re a Londoner – or at least visit the capital regularly – then you’ll no doubt think of Victoria as little more than a transport hub. True, the calibre of restaurants and bars in the area has come on leaps and bounds in recent years, but Victoria is still primarily London’s thoroughfare; a place to connect to different parts of the city and where tourists congregate to visit Buckingham Palace and queue for Hamilton.
So, what if I told you that one of London’s most spectacular and unashamedly romantic hotels is right in the heart of Victoria? Hotel 41 is a clandestine bolthole located in a very conspicuous address across from the Royal Mews at Buckingham Palace and next to sister hotel, The Rubens at the Palace.
From the moment you step onto the Alice in Wonderland-style checkerboard floor and into the mirrored elevator to the fifth floor Executive Lounge, you know that this is pretty different to your standard hotel.
The Executive Lounge is the heart of Hotel 41 and connects to all the bedrooms. It feels more akin to a private members’ club, with a mezzanine area, plush booths and sofas and whimsical decor. Guests are immediately greeted with a smile and a glass of champagne, and the petite dining area features a veritable bounty of snacks to graze on day and night, and even a cheeky ice cream freezer tucked under the stairs. Looking through the glass conservatory style roof, the stresses of the day – and realisation you’re in central London – filter away.
In true boutique hotel style, there are just 30 rooms and suites to choose from at Hotel 41. Each sticks to the quirky monochrome palette, with personal touches such as fresh fruit and flowers. I stayed in the Monarchy Suite, which has two bathrooms and a living room set-up in the adjoining room. All the bedrooms feature mattresses by Savoir Beds – Britain’s foremost bespoke bedmaker – which is considered the Rolls-Royce of beds to guarantee exceptional comfort and an even better night’s sleep.
As mentioned, Victoria has come on leaps and bounds in recent years when it comes to restaurants. Just around the corner from Hotel 41 is the shiny Nova Victoria strip; home to a mix of popular high-end chains and eclectic restaurants, including Sticks‘n’Sushi, Rail House Café, Franco Manca, Timmy Green (part of Aussie café empire Daisy Green) and Aster, from acclaimed Finnish chef Helena Puolakka. And just across from the station is the new(ish) Victoria Market Halls, which features nine restaurants, two bars and even a rooftop venue. But, even closer to home is Bbar, Hotel 41’s adjoining South African-inspired bar and restaurant. Here you can tuck into hearty bunny chow (bread bowls filled with curry), steaks and fish of the day fresh from Billingsgate Market. It’s also home to a pleasingly extensive wine and cocktail list, and more leopard print than Pat Butcher’s wardrobe. It’s fun and on the right side of kitsch, and the food is delicious and satisfying.
The next morning, I enjoyed an eggs Florentine in the comfort of the Executive Lounge at Hotel 41 over the morning paper. The menu features a continental option and hearty full English alongside a choice of omelettes, brioche baps and even a vegan scrambled tofu dish. It’s not cheap, but that’s par for the course for this part of town (and my eggs were cooked to perfection).
I stayed at Hotel 41 on a Wednesday night, meaning I had to polish off my eggs Florentine and tea and head to the office in a respectable time. I mention this because I so thoroughly enjoyed my midweek spot of indulgence that it made me wonder why I don’t do it more often. Even if you’ve called London home for decades, why not play tourist one night and discover the charm and excellent service of this true hidden gem. And if you are new to the city, I can’t think of anywhere better to base yourself.