by John O'Ceallaigh and Luxury Travel Editor, The Telegraph, December 7. 2018
I regularly moan about the uniformity of luxury-hotel aesthetics - irrespective of whether they’re creating bedrooms in Seattle or Seoul, it can at times feel like the more prolific designers are sourcing all their inspiration from the same few Instagram profiles - and yet there’s a sense of sorts in producing spaces that are familiar and generic.
A majority of travellers will be accustomed and reasonably content with the offering; you needn’t worry about scaring away the masses with something experimental or non-conformist.
I was reminded of that when I was shown three drastically different suites at The Milestone Hotel & Residences in Kensington in London and seemed to take on the role of Goldilocks.
Divided into five small rooms, the Venetian Suite felt too cramped to me; in the Meghan Suite, named after the Duchess of Sussex who for now lives just over the road in Kensington Palace, I admired the stylish black and white marble bathroom but wasn’t keen on the leopard-print carpet.
In comparison, the Hermès Suite, finished in a lush emerald green and named for the many Hermès scarves set in frames along its walls, seemed to me to be just right for a night.
The latter two suites have been recently unveiled to mark the conclusion of the second stage of a comprehensive three-year refurbishment programme to the long-standing hotel.
The Venetian Suite
The property is part of the Red Carnation Hotels group, probably best known for The Twelve Apostles Hotel in Cape Town and spectacular Ashford Castle in the west of Ireland (one of my favourite resorts).
The ongoing revamp is intended to elevate The Milestone to a similar level of renown and the new suites will, it is hoped, at the very least give big-spending suite-seeking guests another reason to consider visiting this sometimes-overlooked London address.
The Hermès Suite occupies what was originally the master bedroom of the 1869 townhouse, its historic importance suggested today by the four-metre-high coffered ceilings and the series of floor-to-ceiling windows that open onto the suite’s private balcony.
Its centrepiece, though, is the momentous bronze-framed, four-poster bed. Rather than cramming the space with 19th-century antiques, the furniture comprises tasteful examples of mid-20th-century design: a gleaming freestanding wardrobe with art-deco-style embellishments, bedside cabinets decorated with brass and mother of pearl, a French burr walnut desk atop which stand personalised business cards.
The agreeably odd wooden tortoise stationed in one corner of the room is another distinctive touch, and the bathroom is generously stocked with full-sized Penhaligons toiletries.
Beyond the confines of the suites, guests here have use of a basement spa area, basic in comparison to many of the city's luxury hotels but complete with a small gym, sauna, little resistance swimming pool and a dinky treatment room (it was previously a storage space) from which operates considerate therapist Fiona Keane.
The Meghan Suite
On the ground level, Cheneston’s restaurant was completely empty for much of my dinner, but I could appreciate the handsomeness of the space even if atmosphere was lacking.
I imagine on busier evenings that North American guests in particular (a demographic that especially appreciates being in such proximity to Kensington Palace, I was told), would be charmed by what is a traditionally styled English dining room. The classically British menu might include prawn and crayfish cocktail to start, and if you order the roast of the day it is brought to the table by silver trolley for carving.
But I think what perhaps most works in the hotel’s favour is its staff. As was notably the case with Ashford Castle, many have been here for years and speak about the property with palpable pride and affection.
It felt almost familial, in fact, and it was nice to see that the staff I encountered seemed so sincerely committed to ensuring guests enjoyed their stay at the property. That’s another notable point of distinction between The Milestone and some of the capital’s better-known luxury hotels.
B&B rates at The Milestone Hotel & Residences starts at £500 per night, the Hermès Suite costs from £2,000 per night.
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This article was written by John O'Ceallaigh and Luxury Travel Editor from The Telegraph and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to [email protected]