HOTEL OF THE WEEK: BLAKES
Sunday 07 November 1999
Behind a faintly intimidating, dark green, paparazzi-deflecting facade in the heart of London's South Kensington. Dominating residential Roland Gardens, it makes a convenient base for the cafes and chichi shops of Fulham Road, though such temptations pale into insignificance beside the joys of this hotel. Address: 33 Roland Gardens, London SW7 (tel: 0171- 370 6701); doubles from pounds 220, suites from pounds 495 excl VAT and breakfast.
What's it like?
An exotic oasis. The spacious golden-hued reception is a re-creation from A Passage to India - wicker chairs, Louis Vuitton trunks, a gilded cage of lovebirds ... but enough, you're probably dying to see your room.
A wicked combination of heady indulgence and hushed discretion - though the naked drugged-up gambolling on the roof of toff Josh Astor last year did make it into the papers.
Round-the-clock room service is quick and smiling - they even asked a party over the road to turn down their music at 3am for us.
A little on the small side, but opulent. Style-doyenne and owner Anouska Hempel (Lady Weinberg) has decked out rooms with the most fabulous textiles, which made the black and charcoal decor of our suite luxurious and sensual. A bottle of champagne, supped on the private balcony as the sun set, contributed to the sublime mood, but we had no need of the mini oxygen canisters (pounds 20).
Exhausted by the rigours of our wedding day, we never made it down to the elegant, intimate dining-room, but a comprehensive, eclectic room- service menu - including many restaurant dishes - is available all night. We feasted on sandwiches in bed at 2am: exquisitely presented chicken and pickled ginger for him; melting roast beef with chilli and horseradish for her. Breakfast is available all day, and served at huge scrubbed wooden tables in a beautiful courtyard. Reclining on cushions, we tucked into a spread that included scrambled quail's eggs from the owner's estate, and a (truly) exotic fruit salad.
A hip Euro crowd: Liam and Patsy honeymooned in the Corfu suite; Diana Ross is wedded to room 007; while Jean Paul Gaultier declares Blakes to be "my London house. I love the decoration and the atmosphere; they are my cup of tea, n'est-ce pas?"
Things to do?
If you can bear to leave Blakes, the discerning shopper's paradise of Brompton Cross - Jo Malone, Joseph, the Conran Shop - and the Natural History Museum are both a short walk (sorry, limo ride) away.
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