In a peaceful, tree lined square in a predominantly residential area of Knightsbridge rests No.11 Cadogan Gardens: a rare and valuable jewel amongst a plethora of luxury London hotels. Although a homage to exotic, European elegance, this boutique beauty remains a temple to British history, charm and character, with architectural features and styling that pine for a bygone, romantic era. In turn, No.11 Cadogan Gardens may just possess the most unique charm and character of any London residence.
The townhouse hotel was built in the late 1800s, and its Victorian heritage infuses everything, despite its contemporary English conception. If one was ever to search for the most quintessentially and classically British of hotels, one may be pleasantly surprised to discover the hidden entrance to this time portal. Newly recognised as an illustrious ‘Small Luxury Hotel of the World’, an unsurpassed collection of over 520 luxury hotels in more than 70 countries, this Knightsbridge hotel bypasses the glitzy façade that other five-stars cling to, preferring instead to pride itself on its discrete nature. The building, although impeccably presented, in no way alludes to the grandeur inside. Clearly, the clientele of No.11 Cadogan Gardens is sufficiently in the know to be aware of its presence.
My partner and I arrived on the most beautiful of Saturday afternoons. The hotel is dark, made only darker by the blistering sun outside, but in the most attractive of ways. It feels like something out of a Dickensian novel, all wallpaper and wood, deep in colour as if once forgotten but now handsomely restored. The ticking of an antique, grandfather clock provides the only soundtrack, or perhaps that was in my imagination. It feels personal and intimate. Of course, the staff are more than welcoming. As we walk through to an exquisite, small library, I am struck by what a sweet and welcoming spot this would be for afternoon tea or a perusal of the papers. The walls are adorned to the ceiling with antiquarian books and deep, cushioned chairs are scattered about. Across the corridor is the bar, reeking of illicit pleasures and Parisian chic with quirky, theatrical décor. The whole place oozes vintage glamour; from the opulent headboards and four-poster beds in the suites, to the baroque chaise longues and lavish Murano chandeliers that gild every room. No.11 Cadogan Gardens may not be known as a spa hotel, but trust me when I tell you that the serenity it does offer is truly unrivalled. For the more active amongst us, there is small, well-equipped gym downstairs, which is open 24/7.
We continue to explore the hotel’s hallowed corridors. Most noticeably, every room is slightly different from the other. Ownership of the hotel has changed a few times over the last few years, and every previous owner has left his or her own mark on the hotel’s design. We are told that many guests request the same room upon their return, and it’s wonderful to learn that No.11 Cadogan Gardens has such a unique and loyal following. Fully acclimatised to the luxury that characterises No.11 Cadogan Gardens, we expect our suite to be just as exquisite, and are not disappointed. Gold is the daring colour of choice for the décor. Decadent, velvet curtains tumble from the ceiling and surround acres of a well appointed, stately, four-poster bed. The floor is antique wood, warm and deep in colour. The ensuite is stunningly clad in marble and mahogany, bejeweled with Molton Brown products and the fluffiest white robes. I can’t decide who would feel more at home in this regal room; Henry VIII or Miss Havisham, the suite is suitably befitting for both. A large, circular table stands beside the window accompanied by four velvet chairs, and a plasma television graces the wall escorted on both sides by gold-framed portraits of aristocratic subjects. The ceiling is high, and the room is perfect. The strangest thing about this antique jewel, though, with its relaxing atmosphere and decadent interiors, is that it lies merely minutes away from the bustling shop floors of Harrods, Harvey Nichols and Sloane Square. My partner and I opted for an early supper on the King’s Road (although on observing the restaurant in the morning we would have done just as well dining in house) before hastening back to our residences to tentatively explore the dark, Dickensian corridors of No.11, trying hard not to get lost which, trust me, is no mean feat.
Despite being situated on the ground floor only yards away from the terrace (which serves the most ornamental afternoon tea presented on an antique, several-tiered cake stand, which I can only pray tastes as good as it looks), I had one of the most peaceful nights sleep I have had in a long while. We were greeted in the morning by velvet, artisan chairs and a fresh, well-presented breakfast, brimming with continental and British delights. I had the most divine Eggs Royale with commendable buttery smoked salmon and the creamiest of hollandaise sauce. In contrast to the rest of the hotel, the atmosphere in the restaurant is light and airy. Stylish, black and white pictures of past stars garnish the walls, accompanying a shimmering, mirrored ceiling and the obligatory wooden floor.
With a number of prestigious accolades already neatly tucked under its belt, it isn’t difficult to see why No.11 Cadogan Gardens is such a renowned destination for both discerning tourists and Londoners alike. A discrete, Knightsbridge location only adds to the charm and character the hotel radiates, firmly establishing it as one of London’s most unique boutique hotels.
11 Cadogan Gardens, Knightsbridge, London, SW3 2RJ
Tel: +44 (0) 20 7730 7000 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Written by Rebecca Atherton – 14/9/12