A cold December day, but the welcome sign in the lobby of the Milestone Hotel warms our hearts, “please help yourself to our complimentary hot chocolate, marshmallows and chocolates.” Now that’s what I call the perfect hello.
The Milestone Hotel is the flagship property of family-owned luxury hotel group Red Carnation and more than justifies its coveted status. Just a stone’s throw from London’s Royal Albert Hall and practically opposite Kensington Palace, she is a perfect example of Kensington boutique 5 star luxury; very English, very understated, but always the perfect lady. There is more than a feeling of familiarity here, not surprising really when you consider the guest list has a generous amount of regulars who consider her a home from home.
That said, it is the kind of place you could fall in love with very easily. Like an old comfortable cashmere, she is way past pensionable age (there has been a mansion here since the 17th century) yet she retains the charm and elegance of days gone by. From the top hatted doorman to the little nooks and crannies fitted with plush settees and sofas, this all about unassuming yet exquisite service. Even the odd creaking floorboard just adds to her charm.
Just off the lobby the Park Lounge is doing brisk business with classic afternoon teas. It’s a quintessential English drawing room, with a fireplace, rows of antique books, plenty of glossies and newspapers and lots of comfy seating. There is original art everywhere, courtesy of South African owner of the group, Bea Tollman whose love affair with everything equine is evident. That said, her personal touch and hands on attention to detail can be seen in all the Red Carnation hotels, even down to many of the restaurant dishes where her signature recipes are clearly marked.
Talking of the restaurant, Cheneston’s may be candle-lit intimate and cosy with just 9 tables, but the food and wines are epic. This is classic British fine dining beautifully created and served within an atmosphere of relaxed informality.
Upstairs, each one of the 63 guestrooms, suites and apartments are tailored differently, a consequence of the building’s listed status perhaps or simply because of Bea’s passion for individualism, either way they are all elegant luxury retreats packed with everything you might wish for and perhaps not even think of. Penhaligon toiletries, fresh flowers, soft fluffy robes, iPod docking stations, DVD players, large flat screen TV’s and all kinds of little knicks and knacks. Our room directly overlooks Kensington Palace and Gardens, a simply stunning view to wake up to.
Back downstairs tucked away around a corner lies the charming Stables bar and conservatory, the perfect venue for a discreet night cap or two or a daytime snack. And just when I think they couldn’t possibly fit anything else in, I discover a small gym and pool area in the basement with spa therapies and massage by the legendary Fiona Keane.
Back in the Park Lounge for a coffee after dinner and even the pianist is a surprise. Not content with just playing vanilla wallpaper music, his repertoire extends to 70s Cream covers and even the odd current chart hit. All done terribly tastefully of course, but nevertheless quirkily unexpected but very welcome.
The Milestone Hotel is a little corner of England that redefines what luxury hospitality is all about. You don’t need to shout about it, your reputation will speak for itself. For now though, I’ll just check out those marshmallows one more time.
How much is it to stay at The Milestone Hotel?
Guestrooms are from £400 per night including breakfast.