Let’s be frank: naming your hotel ‘The Londoner’ is quite the statement of intent. Claiming an entire capital city as your own, stating plain and simple that yours mightn’t be the only place in town but there’s little point looking for anywhere else. There are other London hotels, sure. But there’s only one Londoner.
Yes, it’s an impressive gambit. Even more impressive is the fact The Londoner somehow manages to live up to its moniker.
The Londoner brands itself as the world’s first super boutique hotel. Boutique but bigger. All the smooth sailing of a catamaran on a vessel that happens to be the size of the Titanic. (Don’t panic – you’re a good way away from the Thamas.)
Class abounds. Take the Residence, three spaces exclusive to guests. The Y Bar is the perfect office, calm, elegant, refined. The Whisky Room is accessed via a secret door and contains a range of exclusive luxury whiskies – pay a visit following a long afternoon working at the Y Bar. Or before, if you really want to stimulate the creative juices.
First among equals is the Drawing Room, aka the front room of your dreams. When I grow old, I want to retire to the Drawing Room. Hell, I’d retire there tomorrow if allowed. There are magazines and newspapers and a trolley of delicious snacks such as garlic mushrooms and olives and truffle breadsticks. Best of all? Best of all are the luxury board games atop each table: chess, backgammon, Scrabble, Connect Four! I have no hesitation in stating that the Drawing Room alone makes the visit worthwhile.
OK, the Retreat is also pretty good. (The Rs, basically. The Rs make the L.) The Retreat is the wellness floor that contains a gym, spa, swimming pool, hairdressers and all sorts of holistic goodness to bring out the best version of yourself. (And if the best version isn’t up to scratch, the Retreat will make you a better one.)
Float upside down along the swimming pool. Lounge on these massive cabanas the same size and softness of a giant’s marshmallow. Forget you have this thing called a job. Moving from pool to poolside to sauna back to pool, I passed a blissful couple of hours in the Retreat. Roughly. Time doesn’t really exist there. Massage?
For dinner, choose between Whitcomb’s on the ground floor or 8 on the eighth. (You assume Whitcomb’s is the more imaginatively monikered until you head outside and notice the sign for Whitcomb Street.) Well, what’s in a name? I can’t speak for 8 but Whitcomb’s offers a cracking dinner of French Mediterranean cuisine.
Be brave and order the baked snails with white wine, garlic and n'duja lemon butter. Get some bread for that sauce. Follow that up with a rice and pasta course – yes, Whitcomb’s suggests you feast upon four courses rather than the typical three. What’s not to like? So there’s Agnolotti with cheese béchamel and crispy sage butter, or seared lobster with rigatoni if you’re feeling swank.
For the main – well Whitcomb’s meat selection is unavailable elsewhere in the UK so the grilled rib-eye steak or seared beef filet mignon might be the wise choice. However, don't be afraid to go fishing: we shared the pan-fried Dover sole with citrus garlic butter which was just as simple and delicious as you would imagine.
Fancy a post-dinner pint? Or a pre-dinner pint? Or a pint? The Londoner comes with its own pub – Joshua’s Tavern that opens onto the street. Named after Joshua Reynolds, a celebrated 18th century painter who lived in Leicester Square when it was merely Leicester Fields. Reynolds was knighted and later went blind in one eye – emulate either of those at the Tavern and you’ll have had an interesting evening.
Rooms and suites are naturally top of the range, equipped with smart TVs, vanity mirrors and those Japanese toilets with the heated seats. (You’ll be counting down the minutes until your next visit.) But leaving aside the fact you’re situated in the middle of Leicester Square, the hotel itself has more than enough activities to keep you busy.
When you're tired of The Londoner, you're tired of – well, maybe not life, but most of the good things in it. Go forth and indulge.
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38 Leicester Square, London WC2H 7DX; The Londoner