The Athenaeum, London

Reviews / May 13, 2015

Contributor/ Alexander Larman


Best Known For

Back in the Athenaeum’s heyday, the Hollywood Reporter noted (not without a touch of envy) that there were more film stars to be found there than at the Polo Lounge at the Beverly Hills Hotel. Times might have changed somewhat, but, thanks to Martin Hulbert’s quirky and often amusing interior design, this is a five star central London hotel with all the charm and character of the most intimate of boutique establishments. And of course, in the famous ‘Living Wall’, it has one of Mayfair’s outstanding sights.

The Good Stuff

If you have a room overlooking Green Park, then be prepared to soak up sumptuous views; you’d be wise to have breakfast in your room so you can experience what it’s like to be royalty, albeit temporarily. The staff are friendly and keen to make your stay that bit more comfortable – the whisky bar, especially, is a place to get properly involved with a bespoke tasting of some fine Scotch. And the beds are sumptuously comfortable, offering a good night’s sleep for all.

The Vibe

You might not see the A-listers congregating around the lobby, but that doesn’t mean that they’re not here. Discretion and privacy, rather than glitz and bling, are the order of the day, and so there’s an intimacy lacking in many other top London addresses. The fully serviced apartments are especially popular for longer stays; the screenwriter of Goldeneye and The World Is Not Enough gained inspiration here for two of 007’s more glamorous adventures.

Inside the hotel – 8/10

The first thing that you notice is a series of quirky design choices; bedrooms might have displays of miniature tin soldiers, for instance, and the main restaurant has booths so ornately comfortable that it’s possible to sink into them and forget that you’re about to sample the (2 AA rosette-winning) cuisine. There are a spa and gym for the health-conscious, but there’s something sybaritic enough about indulging in the other attractions here.

Outside the hotel – 10/10

Ideally suited for most of central London’s sights, it’s nevertheless nice to be slightly tucked away from the main drag of Park Lane. Shepherd’s Market, with the much-acclaimed new restaurant Kitty Fisher’s, is about five minutes’ walk away, and there are numerous museums and galleries in spitting distance. The Patrick Blanc-designed Living Wall is the main attraction immediately outside the hotel, housing a huge array of plants and flowers; rumours that wild animals are occasionally seen attempting to climb up it, however, remain just that.


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Alexander Larman
Alexander has written for most of the major papers and many lifestyle magazines at one time or another, but is normally to be found writing about literature for the Guardian and Observer, interviewing celebrities for The Resident or reviewing restaurants for The Arbuturian. Follow Alexander @alexlarman Or read more about him Contributor page

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