There are hotels. And then there are hotels. Places so imaginative, so extraordinary and so unusual that they stand out as experiences in their own right. The Egerton Hotel in Knightsbridge, London, is one of those hotels.
First things first: the reception staff are knowledgeable, friendly and seem pleased to see you. This may seem a strange place to start. After all, I could have mentioned the original art from Picasso and Toulouse-Lautrec, the Egyptian cotton sheets, the personal bartender service, the close proximity to Harrods or any one of the many features of this five star luxury hotel that make staying here a pleasure.
No, I mention the service because:
a) it baffles me why so many in the hospitality industry don’t seem to think that it’s important and
b) the Egerton excelled at it.
By the end of a brief chat with the staff at the desk, I had personal recommendations for my next destination (Istanbul, no less) plus an airport-security-approved bottle of water to take with me onto the flight.
In my room, in addition to the usual luxurious touches, I found a pillow for the bath and multivitamins for the frazzled traveller. And by the time I reached the Egerton, after delayed flights, reroutes and sprinting around London with a suitcase, I was a frazzled traveller.
Twenty-eight rooms and top floor suites manage to fit into this charming townhouse, with each room wearing a different version of fine fabrics and Italian antiques. Rooms are cosy rather than spacious but come with all the mod-cons: wifi, widescreen TV and air conditioning (should you ever need it in the UK.)
Breakfast is also an intimate affair, served in the basement and combining a freshly-prepared à la carte menu with a cold platter buffet.
The bar at the Egerton Hotel is one of its star attractions because it houses its star attractions: its bartenders. Antonio is the name on everyone’s lips but he was away on the day I was in town. Instead, I had the great pleasure of meeting Esley Gunaratne, character and bartender extraordinaire. It is no mean feat to eke both a conversation and a smile out of me after a day spent schlepping around London and failing to win an industry award ;)
So, to you, Esley – and to all the staff I met at the Egerton – thank you for a wonderful stay and I wish you all the best for the New Year ahead.
Who it’s for: able-bodied adults in search of luxury in the centre of London.
Who it’s not for: large families with young children or anyone searching for a faceless international chain.
Disclosure: I received a night’s accommodation at the Egerton Hotel on a complimentary basis but was free to write whatever I truly thought about the place. Otherwise reviews are rather pointless. And for any cynics out there who may think I always write glowing reviews, check out the review section and disabuse yourself of that notion!
Abigail King is a writer and photographer who swapped a career as a doctor for a life on the road. Now published by Lonely Planet, the BBC, CNN, National Geographic Traveler & more, she feels most at home experimenting here: covering unusual journeys, thoughtful travel and luxury on www.insidethetravellab.com