Room Service: Dorset Square, London

Regency revival in the capital

When Tim and Kit Kemp unveiled their first hotel project in 1985 – Dorset Square Hotel, in London's Marylebone – they shook up the capital's hospitality scene. This fine Regency town house, on a quintessential London square, provided the perfect showcase for their fun and stylish new approach to hotel design.

The Kemps blew a fresh breath of life through this beautiful building, filling it with bold colours and patterns and contrasting textures, as well as eclectic furnishings and ornaments handpicked from around the world. And so, Dorset Square set the tone for their portfolio, Firmdale Hotels, which, 28 years on, numbers seven properties in London and one in New York City.

Kit designs all the Kemps' hotel interiors, describing her style as "modern English". Her radical assembly of bright tones and striking patterns, natural materials and glorious flourishes, such as the oversized textile bedheads and presence of a dressmaker's dummy in each room (the company's motif), might seem riotous on first sight, but this magpie's nest is so elegantly put together it could never be described as cluttered. The effect is intriguing and begs closer inspection, which reveals that every tuft of carpet and weave of drape has been carefully chosen and layered to create a joyful space in which to reside.

The Kemps sold Dorset Square in 2002 but reacquired the property in 2011, reopening it to guests last June following a thorough refurbishment. It now offers a choice of 38 bedrooms, a drawing room with an honesty bar where afternoon tea is served (from £25), and the Potting Shed Bar & Restaurant in the basement, which has a mainly British menu, such as ham hock terrine with piccalilli and sourdough toast (£7.50), fish pie (£15) and rhubarb crumble with custard (£4.50).

For the revamp, Kit has found much to amuse and admire in her craft box: the wallpaper on the stairs is modelled on a French botanical poster dating from the Fifties; the trio of side tables in the drawing room, made from rough slate and a polished slice of tree stump, are irresistible to touch; while the Fuzzy Felt-style cushions in the bedrooms, with appliquéd tigers and elephants, can't help but raise a smile.

She has also incorporated a cricket theme, inspired by the fact that the square's private garden was the site of Thomas Lord's first cricket ground. Look out for witty nods to the sport, from the cricket balls that double as wardrobe handles in the bedrooms to the scoreboard numbers in the restaurant and the Silly Wicket cocktail served at the glamorous pewter bar.

Location

Dorset Square Hotel is a couple of minutes' walk from Marylebone station and five minutes from Baker Street Tube. Regent's Park (0300 061 2300; royalparks.org.uk) is on your doorstep, as is Madame Tussauds (0871 894 3000; madametussauds.com; £22.50), both five minutes on foot to the east.

Experience village life, London-style, on nearby Marylebone High Street (www.marylebone village.com), a 10-minute walk south-east, where you'll find upscale shopping and independent boutiques (agnès b, Fresh, Designers Guild), and top-quality dining (Orrery, Cotidie, The Providores). If you're visiting at the weekend, there's a food and artisan market on Saturdays (11am-5pm) and a farmers' market on Sundays (10am-2pm). Further south, you'll hit Oxford Street at the Marble Arch end (for Selfridges); from there you can head east to the heart of the West End.

Comfort

There are nine categories of room, from a single through a variety of doubles (their pricing reflecting the size of the room and whether you're overlooking the square), to the two main suites. The rooms are small; the largest suite, the Marylebone Room, is only 35sq m. But they are all luxuriously finished, with soft carpets and comfortable beds, chairs and sofas.

The bathrooms sparkle: they're encased in granite tiles, with a double vanity area, white porcelain and a free-standing glass-panelled shower. (Only three rooms have baths.) Toiletries are by Miller Harris and bathrobes come as standard. All rooms have free Wi-Fi, a satellite television, iPod docking station, Tivoli radio and a mini bar of snacks, wines and spirits.

Children get their own menu and toiletries; extra beds and high chairs can be organised too. Everything is dedicated to ensuring guests have what they require at their fingertips.

Dorset Square Hotel, 39-40 Dorset Square, London NW1 6QN (020-7723 7874; dorset squarehotel.co.uk)

Travel Essentials

Rooms ****

Value ****

Service ***

Doubles start at £235, room only

 

Suggested Topics
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Guru Careers: Membership Administrator

    £23K: Guru Careers: We're seeking an experienced Membership Administrator, to ...

    Guru Careers: Dining Room Head Chef

    £32K: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Dining Room Head Chef to work for one of ...

    Guru Careers: Pastry Sous Chef / Experienced Pastry Chef

    £27K: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Pastry Sous Chef / Experienced Pastry Che...

    Guru Careers: Events Coordinator / Junior Events Planner

    £24K + Excellent Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking an Events Coordinator ...

    Day In a Page

    Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

    Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

    For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
    Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

    Fifa corruption arrests

    All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert
    Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

    The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

    In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
    How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

    How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

    Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US
    Stephen Mangan interview: From posh buffoon to pregnant dad, the actor has quite a range

    How Stephen Mangan got his range

    Posh buffoon, hapless writer, pregnant dad - Mangan is certainly a versatile actor
    The ZX Spectrum has been crowd-funded back into play - with some 21st-century tweaks

    The ZX Spectrum is back

    The ZX Spectrum was the original - and for some players, still the best. David Crookes meets the fans who've kept the games' flames lit
    Grace of Monaco film panned: even the screenwriter pours scorn on biopic starring Nicole Kidman

    Even the screenwriter pours scorn on Grace of Monaco biopic

    The critics had a field day after last year's premiere, but the savaging goes on
    Menstrual Hygiene Day: The strange ideas people used to believe about periods

    Menstrual Hygiene Day: The strange ideas people once had about periods

    If one was missed, vomiting blood was seen as a viable alternative
    The best work perks: From free travel cards to making dreams come true (really)

    The quirks of work perks

    From free travel cards to making dreams come true (really)
    Is bridge the latest twee pastime to get hip?

    Is bridge becoming hip?

    The number of young players has trebled in the past year. Gillian Orr discovers if this old game has new tricks
    Long author-lists on research papers are threatening the academic work system

    The rise of 'hyperauthorship'

    Now that academic papers are written by thousands (yes, thousands) of contributors, it's getting hard to tell workers from shirkers
    The rise of Lego Clubs: How toys are helping children struggling with social interaction to build better relationships

    The rise of Lego Clubs

    How toys are helping children struggling with social interaction to build better relationships
    5 best running glasses

    On your marks: 5 best running glasses

    Whether you’re pounding pavements, parks or hill passes, keep your eyes protected in all weathers
    Joe Root: 'Ben Stokes gives everything – he’s rubbing off on us all'

    'Ben Stokes gives everything – he’s rubbing off on us all'

    Joe Root says the England dressing room is a happy place again – and Stokes is the catalyst
    Raif Badawi: Wife pleads for fresh EU help as Saudi blogger's health worsens

    Please save my husband

    As the health of blogger Raif Badawi worsens in prison, his wife urges EU governments to put pressure on the Saudi Arabian royal family to allow her husband to join his family in Canada