Like most Americans, when we think of the British, England, and London, we think of gray skies, double-decker buses, the Queen, afternoon tea, and all the stuffy furniture, artwork, wallpaper, and decoration that formed the backdrop of the nearly century-long Victorian era that has captured and stayed with our imaginations ever since. So, it might come as a shock to many of us when researching London Hotels to book for a forthcoming vacation that most hotels in the city are as dull as a Drury Inn with no British charm or English character. In fact, you’d find more British character in an English pub in the Midwest than you do in the majority of properties in London. So what does one do when they want a truly British experience when visiting London and can afford to shell out a few extra bones for that benefit?
They book a room at 11 Cadogan Gardens, a Victorian masterpiece of a hotel that we believe is the Most British in all of London.
You’d be forgiven for missing 11 Cadogan Gardens if you walked by it on the street without a second glance. And that’s a good thing. This boutique hotel located in the Chelsea neighborhood of London sprawls throughout four adjoining, red-brick Victorian row houses and seems right at home among the other residential buildings in the area. Out front, black, wrought-iron railings stand guard next to the sidewalk as marble steps beckon guests inward to the intricate and exceptional entrance area. Just beyond lies a wood-paneled reception area with smiling staff and around the corner is the concierge desk where any question can be answered and almost any need met.
Finishing off the ground floor are a couple of grand staircases that spiral upward, a courtyard seating area, and a spectacular spot dubbed “The Mirror Room.” A black and white checkerboard floor forms the base of this room, which features walls and ceiling made of mirrors segmented by gold-painted mullions and is truly an Instagram paradise.
On the lower level is the hotel’s state-of-the-art gym, and the property’s restaurant, Hans’ Bar & Grill, which also provides access to a revitalized back-alley shopping area that plays host to wine bars, shops, and art galleries.
Guests also enjoy access to the exclusive private garden just across the street. This relaxed and calming park offers a place to unwind after a long day of sightseeing or a quick bit of nature in the morning before you set out for the day. The views of the surrounding townhouses are excellent and truly make you feel like you’re in the thick of old-school London city life.
Rooms at 11 Cadogan Gardens are all individually decorated, so no two are the same — another point in the hotel’s favor when it comes to being the Most British. Larger suites feature four-poster beds, opulently large bathrooms with marble walls and floors, massive showers, soaking tubs, and smart details. Smaller rooms offer less space but equal amounts of luxury. Broken down into three types; petite, superior, and deluxe, all feature period furniture, super soft beds with uber-touchable linens, immaculate bathrooms, large televisions, and Wi-Fi.
Four different types of suites make up the remainder of the hotel’s room options and this is where the real spectacle begins. Along with the aforementioned bathrooms and fixtures, the suites (Cadogan, Sloane, Signature, and Junior) are filled with ornate furnishings, baroque yet modern decor, sumptuous fabrics, and classic British styling. The suites feeling more like private rooms in an English country estate than hotel rooms, with four of the Cadogan Suites even enjoying their own private entrances. We recommend staying in Room 007 (which we had the pleasure of staying in and which we immediately loved for its Bondian room number), which has a private entrance on the ground floor and views straight across the street to the private garden.
Hans’ Bar & Grill
You go to Hans’ Bar & Grill for beef. And boy oh boy, is this bistro’s beef good. Thursday nights are Steak Night at Hans’ and we would honestly recommend you plan your stay so that it coincides with this meaty event. Local, English beef in all its grass-fed magnificence tips the menu. Other dish options often include seafood, game, and vegetarian creations. A full bar rounds out this eatery’s amenities. Hans’ also handles all the hotel’s room service, so you have them to thank for your perfectly cooked, perfectly-timed, Full English Breakfast in bed.
The Chelsea Bar
Moody, dark, and inviting, The Chelsea bar serves up strong but balanced cocktails, an impressive wine list, and plenty of beers. Take a seat in the bar’s handsome leather chairs and order something with gin. You won’t regret it.
Located right off the lobby with oil painted aristocrats looming larges from paintings on the walls, the Drawing Room is where afternoon high tea is served and it is not to be missed. Hot tea with a selection of tea sandwiches (of both the sweet and savory varieties) allow you to indulge in this famously British experience.
Located in the posh London neighborhood of Chelsea, 11 Cadogan Gardens is close to all the best London has to offer. Chelsea itself is a hub of shopping, culture, and dining, and the birthplace of London’s Swinging Sixties. Walk a mile down King’s Road and imagine you’re one of The Beatles or The Rolling Stones pounding the pavement while searching for a crazy-patterned caftan while wearing a pair of, yes, Chelsea boots.
As far as transit goes, 11 Cadogan Gardens is literally around the corner from Sloane Square along with its Tube stop of the same name, which provides easy access to the rest of the city via London’s workhouse public transit.
The neighborhood of Knightsbridge is home to the famed Harrods Department Store and is just a quick walk north. The massive store takes up an entire city block and features one of the best food halls in Europe. Just north of that is Hyde Park, where Kensington Palace is located, great for a relaxing stroll away from the hustle and bustle of the streets. South of Chelsea lies the River Thames, which divides London in half from north to south and is worth a walk along its banks.
Wherever you want to go in London, you’re less than an hour away when staying at 11 Cadogan Gardens. That, combined with the absolute Britishness of the decor and atmosphere, means 11 Cadogan Gardens is often sold out months in advance, so if you’re planning a trip to London, you better get booking.
If you’re looking for a cheap way to get to London, remember that JetBlue begins transatlantic flights from the East Coast beginning in 2021.