There are bursts of color and design at every turn inside The Ampersand Hotel. Coming in from a dark winter night in London, my husband and I are greeted by swirls, stripes, hues of every shade, working together seamlessly to create an aesthetically pleasing kaleidoscope world. And that's even before we've got to our bedroom. Standing proudly in South Kensington, The Ampersand Hotel, which has 111 uniquely designed “destination” bedrooms, was built in 1888, making it one of London's original Victorian boutique hotels.
And it takes its inspiration of botany, music, geometry, ornithology and astronomy from the nearby famous museums of Natural History, Science and Victoria & Albert, as well as the Royal Albert Hall. As we walk in, we step on to the wide marble floors in the lobby, boasting an impressive, 20ft winding staircase and perfect-white columns. The black-and-white them, which is apparent throughout, is on display in the cozy seating area by the check-in desk where friendly staff take our luggage.
We're staying on the third floor and our room is just as breathtaking as the rest of the hotel. It's a deluxe room with ornithological-inspired decor. As well as a king-size bed with a grand, oversized velvet headboard, and teal and plum too-comfy cushions, there's a huge plasma on the wall and a box of delicious chocolates. The bathroom is something else. Double sinks and a rainfall shower offer the epitome of luxury, in a room with black-and-white-striped wallpaper, and shiny, glass-like black wall tiles, while the Miller Harris toiletries are almost too good to use.
There are three restaurants on site. Apero is tucked beneath the cellar arches, offering a fresh Mediterranean style; the Drawing Rooms bring French finesse together with British style, serving light bites and afternoon tea; while The Wine Room is an intimate private dining room dedicated entirely to the gourmet experience and cellar of fine wines. We leave the hotel the following morning after a five-star buffet style breakfast (think everything from organic cereal to pain au chocolate) incredibly fresh.
Although our room is gorgeous, and the bed provided me with one of the best night's sleep in ages, the fourth and fifth floors are where it's at. Up here, in the breathtaking luxury suites, the balcony offers “Mary Poppins' ” views of the eaves across London. The rooms boast a separate sitting room, a freestanding bath, walk-in show and built-in TVs. Bliss! Although this is a boutique hotel, don’t confuse that with meaning it is small. There's everything on offer at The Ampersand, including a fully equipped gym and yoga instructors.
Put simply, this is one of London's best luxury boutique hotels. Its style, elegance and incredible service mean it demands a return visit. Superior rooms start from Ł200 +VAT per night.