Anastasia Bernhardt uncovers a gem hidden in Pimlico.
Pimlico teems with budget hotels (including the marvellously garish orange façade of the EasyJet hotel) but it’s really lacking in charming properties for design-led travellers. The location is an ideal base for exploring town, it’s just a short walk to Victoria so you could be in Mayfair in 15 minutes by foot, plus there’s the added bonus that the area’s completely silent at night. It’s remarkable really that it’s taken this long for something to pop up.
With two popular hotels already in Brighton and Penzance, what’s most heart-warming behind the boutique Artist Residence group of hotels is the story behind it. Run by a couple, Justin Salisbury and Charlie Newey, who, it is worth mentioning, are in their twenties. Following an accident in the family, Justin had to drop out of Leeds University to prop up the family’s ailing seaside guest house on a shoe-string budget. So, he invited local artists to decorate rooms in return for accommodation. As they’ve grown up, so too has their style, with the addition of a cocktail bar in Brighton. Now they’ve broken into London, and they’ve nailed it.
You’d assume the interiors were professionally designed rather than cobbled together by the couple from their favourite antiques markets. There’s just ten rooms, each with its own personality: the smallest is neat and unfussy, without feeling spartan or cheap, others feature boards with peeling paint, exposed brick and neat tiling. The Club Suite smacks of Art Deco, in pistachio green, with a fabulous padded, fanned headboard and deep club chairs. Best of all is the Club Suite, with scrubbed-up parquet floors, vintage film posters and a ruddy great big Catchpole & Rye stand-alone bathtub complete with scrummy, full-sized Bramley products (sadly too big to swipe into your handbag). It’s quirky and charming without being twee or conceited – a fine line to balance.
Logic prescribes to avoid the mini bar at all costs; here it’s impossible, crammed with posh popcorn, healthy treats and decadent snacks. If you’ve managed to display self-restraint, the restaurant downstairs is well worth its salt. Diners can eat on tall bar stools surveying the open kitchen or take a step back at a table. Based on small plate sharing, dishes are unusual – salted ox tongue, pea and jowl; gigha, cinnamon and tomato – but hearty, with the menu split helpfully into meat, fish and veg to make choosing easier. The bar downstairs is experimental with lots of dark corners to hide in.
What’s most impressive about this hotel is not that the proprietors are young or the design, snazzy – it’s the attention to detail for a not unreasonable price tag (prices start at £200), from the delicate scent in the hallways and friendly but discreet service to the well thought through artwork and glossy magazines by your bed. Proof that luxury doesn’t have to come with a lengthy bill at the end.
52 Cambridge Street, London, www.artistresidencelondon.co.uk