Quintessentially English: what kind of décor does that phrase conjur up for you? Chesterfield sofas, gilt-framed hunting scenes in oils, a table set for tea with Royal Doulton crockery? For Kit Kemp – who with her husband, Tim, is building a solid empire of hotels across the capital under the Firmdale brand – it means something quite different. She prefers to embrace the eccentric character for which the English are renowned. Her style is a whirl of old and new, abstract and regimented, brights and pastels. Some might baulk at the suggestion of such a grand clash, but it is a breath of fresh air in a hotel scene that veers from fusty formality to too cool minimalism. The Kemps' seventh endeavour, the Haymarket Hotel, opened in May on the central London avenue of the same name. Set in three Regency houses designed by John Nash, formally the London headquarters of American Express, these spacious premises have been transformed into a hotel offering well-proportioned bedrooms and sizeable communal spaces – a cosy guest drawing room with honesty bar, an events room in the former shooting gallery and a funky pool bar with an 18-metre swimming pool. As for location, you couldn't be more central: it's a cockstride to Trafalgar Square, Covent Garden, Soho and Regent and Oxford Streets.
Comfort is king, with oversized beds dressed in soft white linen and festooned with pillows, deep sofas and mood lighting. There are 50 rooms, in five grades, from luxury doubles to two-bedroom suites, plus a nearby townhouse for guests prepared to pay £3,000 a night for the privacy. The gleaming bathrooms are fashioned out of granite, oak, glass and white porcelain and most have freestanding showers. Heady botanical scents by Miller Harris are provided. Facilities include: air-conditioning, high-speed Wi-Fi, phone with voice mail, widescreen satellite TV, DVD and CD (a library of films and music is available at reception), iPod connection, mini-bar, safe, 24-hour room service, access to gym and spa.
The food and drink
Eat satisfying portions of good quality brasserie fare in the startling pink surroundings of Brumus restaurant. Expect to pay around £35 per head for three courses without wine. The adjacent sceney bar is a good spot for a drink.
Two rooms are modified for guests with disabilities. Children welcome.
From £288 per room per night. From 14 December to 27 January, special rates start from £270 per room per night including breakfast.
Haymarket Hotel, 1 Suffolk Place, London SW1Y 4BP (020-7470 4000; haymarkethotel.com).Reuse content