If the name of this charming hotel on London’s Piccadilly brings to mind the pursuit of excellence in the arts and sciences and a sense of exclusivity, you would be forgiven, for it shares its title with the Athenaeum Private Members Club, founded in 1824. The two properties, while both enjoying equally important addresses are now entirely separate, but do certainly share the qualities of fine hospitality and luxury – qualities I enjoyed on a recent overnight stay.
The Athenaeum’s location on Piccadilly, with elegant Mayfair it’s neighbour to the North and the verdant expanse of Green Park to the South could hardly be bettered. It is rare to find a hotel in the capital that has picturesque and peaceful park views while being truly in the heart of the action and these park views are taken full advantage of in many of the rooms and suites.
Our suite (the Green Park Suite) enjoyed views across the park through its floor to ceiling windows and more than 500 square feet of living space designed in a style that was both cosy and comfortable, but also chic. A well-stocked mini-bar, Nespresso machine and large flat screen TV were present, as one would expect in a hotel of this calibre but some added touches such as an extensive pillow menu, bespoke London-focused art works and plentiful bathroom amenities from the bergamot range by ESPA completed that sense of luxury.
Gazing out over the calming views of Green Park and the city beyond while enjoying a glass of delicious Spanish red wine left as a welcome gift it was hard to believe that just a few floors below us London was gearing up for a typically frenetic Friday night. Any worries about the proximity to the revellers below were allayed by the amazing soundproofing and enormous king-sized bed that promised a blissful night’s sleep ahead. As tempting as the bed was though, a glamorous five-star Friday night in the Capital would never be complete without an indulgent dinner and The Athenaeum’s offering would certainly not disappoint.
In a smart move, the owners of the hotel looked to the legendary Galvin brothers, responsible for London stalwarts such as Galvin at Windows and Galvin La Chapelle to oversee all the food offerings, including the main restaurant, bar and even room-service. Known for their modern British cooking and use of traditional and luxurious ingredients the Galvin’s menu at this restaurant, unsurprisingly called Galvin at The Athenaeum, was a great mix of classics and some more complex dishes.
Feeling a little grand and celebrating our upgrade to the suite we decided on dressed crab and smoked salmon to start, followed a whole lobster and rib-eye steak. Accompanied by a fine Sauvignon Blanc both courses were excellent examples of how simple recipes using perfectly cooked, well-chosen ingredients can be elevated to an elegant and thrilling meal. Service during dinner was as friendly as we experienced throughout the hotel, a charming mix of informality and respectful efficiency that we felt was the right mix for a boutique, contemporary hotel.
With our bedroom for the night only a short staggering distance away we indulged further with a lemon tart and passion fruit pavlova, both hitting the right notes of sweet and sour and the perfect end to what had been a truly delicious and elegant experience. Unlike many of the other guests around us who looked to be ready to hit the town we decided against another glass of wine or any of the creative looking cocktails on offer and gleefully retreated to our enticing haven upstairs for some much-needed rest.
Watched over by the adorable Athenaeum teddy bear and replete from our meal we fell into the kind of long and restful sleep only a silent room and near-perfect black out blinds can provide, reason enough to check into a hotel indeed!
A blissfully late start and long delicious English Breakfast in the restaurant meant there was little left of the morning to be able to enjoy the hotel’s spa before check-out but poking our head in we spotted an elegant space with hot tubs, sauna and steam room as well as a small gym space.
We were glad however that we made time to visit ‘The View’ a lounge on the hotel’s top floor that the receptionist urged us to make use of before leaving. This large and beautifully designed space truly is the crowning glory of the hotel with an honesty bar, complimentary snacks and books, magazines and board games aplenty if one was able to tear oneself away from the spectacular vista across the city (see photo below). With a small terrace, this lounge is only open to suite guests and is surely a reason to splurge.
Truly invigorated by our short stay I would heartily recommend the hotel, both for its obvious charms such as its location, restaurant and the much-mentioned views but also for its friendly and informal approach, something often lacking in luxury hotels.
To book and find our more, visit: www.athenaeumhotel.com
By Eliot Sandiford