Hotel Of The Week: Covent Garden Hotel, London
Lights, camera, action! The film world loves to stay at the Covent Garden Hotel. It's quiet, well located - and terribly theatrical
Sunday 13 August 2006
Do you want to know where the film stars stay when they're in London? You do? Then perhaps I shouldn't tell you. You might be one of those types who can't help nudging their friend with a sharp elbow at the sight of a celeb. And that would never do at the Covent Garden Hotel.
The stars come to this bijou bolthole, tucked away from the bustle of the surrounding streets, just because it is a discreet address. In fact, it's become a firm favourite of the big studios' PAs - low-profile yet sumptuous lodgings for A-list casts on the premiere circuit.
But surely the paparazzis know they could snap a dressed-down De Vito here, so what's the real attraction? I suspect it's the very Englishness of the place. Americans make up the majority of guests, which should tell you something. They must love the heady mixture of florals and checks, stripes and motifs. It sounds a little hard on the eye, yet it works. And the effect is enhanced by open fires, wood panelling, antiques and art, extravagant fabrics and elaborate paint effects. Plus the addition of a drawing room and library adds a touch of class.
The drama doesn't stop with the decor; this hotel's theatrical appeal would gladden any luvvie's heart. Step through the door and behold reception: framed by rose-strewn damask drapes and pelmet, a proscenium arch through which to step on to the stage for this latest scene from your life.
The hotel is just off Seven Dials, in the heart of the city. But it's the setting that is of real interest. London is full of unexpected curiosities and this hotel is one of them - a former French hospital. At ground level it looks like a Parisian pavement café, its French windows opening on to the street, shaded by a stripy awning.
The comfort factor
Built in the 19th century, this solid structure affords spacious rooms and high ceilings. But if you were hoping for the theatricality of the common areas to echo through the bedrooms, you may be disappointed to find that their interiors are a little more restrained. Still, in each of the 58 rooms the bedhead provides a dramatic centrepiece and a signature tailor's dummy is picked out in the dominant fabric of the given design. Luxury, however, isn't skimped on, though the very comfortable beds are spoilt by being so short.
Rather like the bedrooms, you might expect a little more drama. Perhaps a clawfoot bath, or a gilded sink, to make every guest feel like a film star. Yet the bathrooms are plain and solid, fashioned from familiar mottled marble and white porcelain. Botanic bathing is supplied by perfumers Miller Harris - now that's a bit of a treat.
The food and drink
You might recognise Brasserie Max from Woody Allen's Match Point. When it's not doubling as a film set it still has a buzz about it, especially the cocktail bar, which has a rather decadent appeal. The menu promises superior brasserie fare - oysters, roast quail, crab cakes, sirloin steak, Dover sole... But I've eaten here twice and on both occasions the food was below par.
Apart from stellar guests, theatre-goers and shopaholics making a weekend of it, gay guys out on the town, and some families too.
Park your posterior on Poltrona Frau leather in the 53-seater screening room, where guests (and savvy Londoners who belong to the Weekend Film Club) pay £35 for a three-course dinner and a classic film. The small gym has a good selection of equipment and a personal trainer. Two beauticians will pamper you, but book ahead. Covent Garden and Soho are close enough for the spendthrift to pop back occasionally to drop off purchases. Theatreland is just around the corner.
Disabled access. Children welcome. No pets.
Doubles from £235 per night, with breakfast until 10 September.
The Covent Garden Hotel, 10 Monmouth Street, London WC2H 9HB (020-7806 1000; firmdalehotels.com).
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