‘Please take care when running the bath,’ read the note above the loo. ‘Directly beneath this bathroom is a 17th century Rococo ballroom’.
The Chesterfield hotel, the soul of old school refinement tucked away in the heart of Mayfair, is full of elegant surprises.
From Willy Wonka in the conservatory – child-themed afternoon teas complete with Mr Wonka and his chocolate bars are highly popular family affairs – to the most exhaustive range of gin in London, the unexpected treats and modern twists concealed within this Regency town house belie its imposing exterior.
Plush: Fiona stayed in the ‘divine’ Philippe Suite, a set of rooms in navy and cream with three crystal chandeliers and a four- poster bed
Plentiful: Fiona said that her suite ‘had more furniture than she knew what to do with’
The staff at the Chesterfield are far and away the friendliest people in Mayfair, Fiona stated
The clues come as soon as the doorman ushers you through the crimson canopied entrance.
For while the highly polished lobby, with its gleaming marble floor and magnificent chandelier, has all the hallmarks of hushed opulence, few establishments in the capital’s most exclusive postcode exude such an air of genuine warmth. The staff are far and away the friendliest people in Mayfair.
Warm welcomes are also extended to those staying with pets. Will sir require a medium or large dog basket (with turndown treat) for the night? Followed by a full bath and nail clipping? Certainly.
Unusually, my husband and I were travelling without any dependents (four legged or otherwise), having chosen to celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary with a weekend away in London.
And so it was that when we were shown to our room – or rather rooms – it was with the heady realisation that, on this occasion, the elegant suite before us would not be instantly disfigured into a children’s campsite.
The Philippe Suite, a divine set of rooms in navy and cream with three crystal chandeliers and a four poster bed, comprised more furniture than we knew what to do with. Although it is funny how quickly one becomes accustomed to it.
The Chesterfield hotel ‘is the soul of old school refinement tucked away in the heart of Mayfair’
Fiona found a note in her bathroom that read: ‘Please take care when running the bath. Directly beneath this bathroom is a 17th century Rococo ballroom’
‘You could do with one of these,’ I found myself saying, as I took my husband’s tired Blue Harbour jacket and hung it on the solid silver valet stand.
‘And the kids would love this!’ I exclaimed, flicking open an early 19th century writing bureau and imagining how our children would much prefer its tantalising secret compartments to the wipe-down surface of their shared Ikea desk.
My husband, a patient man who has heard this sort of thing before, said nothing, content to recline on the chaise longue, whilst decanting himself a glass of mid-afternoon sherry.
But then, the best hotels transport you to a different era. And the Chesterfield does this in spades.
With the heart of London so easily accessible by foot – Tiffany’s in Bond Street is a mere, yet ruinously expensive, five minutes’ walk away, whilst the restaurants and theatres of Covent Garden are not much further – we spent the evening enjoying the capital’s attractions before returning to what we told ourselves would be a night cap.
The Chesterfield features an elegant conservatory where delightful afternoon teas are served
That was before we were introduced to James the barman and the Chesterfield’s Gin Experience.
What James cannot tell you about gin is not worth knowing. And what the Chesterfield does not stock – it boasts an impressive 22 varieties – is not worth drinking.
It offers four tasting menus each comprising three types of gin and its complementary tonic – no Schwepps here – all served from their unique gin tray, an ingenious Perspex platform showcasing the crucial ingredients needed to make the perfect G&T.
While the afternoon teas at the Chesterfield are no doubt quite magnificent, it was a gin tasting that Fiona was particularly impressed by
James the barman leads the Chesterfield’s Gin Experience – ‘and what he cannot tell you about gin isn’t worth knowing’
We opted for the Premium Tasting (£30) and were not disappointed. First of the trio was the dry No 3 London Gin, mixed with Fentiman’s tonic, and served with edible flowers, blueberries and grapefruit. Delicious. Next up was the floral heaven of Martin Miller’s Icelandic gin combined with Fever Tree Mediterranean tonic, served with strawberry and crushed pepper. The finale was the spiced sensation of little known brand Monkey 47 served with 1724 tonic and a scattering of juniper berries.
Such was our enjoyment that we have been striving to recreate the exact combinations at home ever since.
By now the clock had struck one. But while the cosy bar showed no signs of slowing down – it is open 24 hours a day – we were showing our age.
As we climbed the stairs to bed, my husband stopped in his tracks, finally remembering the anniversary gift traditionally associated with ten years of marriage.
‘Tin!’ He cried. ‘It’s meant to be tin!’
I looked at him, puzzled.
Fiona Hardcastle stayed at the Chesterfield Mayfair, where a classic double room starts at £275 per room per night, inclusive of full English breakfast and taxes. For more information and to book, please visit www.chesterfieldmayfair.com.
The Gin and Tonic experience starts at £25 a head, rising to £30 a head for the Premium Gin and Tonic Experience. Each includes a journey through three different gin and tonics, guided by the expert bar team who will talk through the flavours and provenance of each gin, tonic and various accompanying botanicals.