Minimalist chic at The Hempel

PUBLISHED: 13:52 18 May 2011 | UPDATED: 19:11 20 February 2013

Minimalist chic at The Hempel

Minimalist chic at The Hempel

Michelle Patient heads for the Capital to experience the delights of The Hempel hotel in London...

Michelle Patient heads for the Capital to experience the delights of The Hempel hotel in London

After nine years of being a London commuter, surely I should know better than to head into the capital on a weekend in search of relaxation. Why would I actively court the possibility of Tube delays and crowds of shoppers in my free time? Is it crazy to drag my poor partner (who has only just returned from a two-night stay in a soulless budget hotel in Grantham on a business trip) for a mini-break at a five-star boutique West London hotel?

We packed (and in my partners case, repacked) our weekend bags, and an hours train and Tube ride later we emerged out of Paddington station and strolled five minutes to The Hempel, which was opened by hotelier and designer Anoushka Hempel in 1996 and is considered by many to be Londons original minimalist boutique hotel.

The Hempel is contained in a row of white Georgian mansions that overlook the hotels geometric Zen Garden, which is the squares focal point. Movie buffs might recognise this garden as the setting where Hugh Grant and Julia Roberts get married in the film Notting Hill.

The buildings facades may be typical West London wedding cake, but the rooms within are sleek and minimalistic. The lobbys creamy limestone and candle-lined sunken sitting area evokes an Egyptian temple, but the ambiance is warm, as are the hotel staff who are adept at making their guests feel at ease.

In addition to a street-lit view of the garden, our Zen minimalist room featured a plush mattress on a wooden platform and a chocolate leather daybed big enough for two. Staff cheerfully brought up a pot of tea, and my partner and I slipped on fluffy bathrobes and lounged on the daybed, flipping through the array of current magazines left on the coffee table. After a refreshing shower using the gorgeous-smelling REN bath products, we headed down to No. 35 the hotels true hidden gem.

No. 35s chef Michael Carter is relatively new to the Hempel, having previously worked as sous and pastry chef at the Michelin-starred Arbutus and as a senior chef de partie at Rules, the oldest restaurant in the UK. He then moved to Japan, where he became sous chef at Barakura English Garden in Nagano, and also co-wrote a cookbook with Trevor Blythe on British cooking for the Japanese market.

As Michael mentioned when he came out to greet us at the end of our delectable dinner, this is his first head chef position, and his enthusiasm and innovation is evident in his menu, which incorporates both traditional British and Japanese influences.

His new spring dinner menu includes free range, grass fed, outdoor bred and reared meats from Gatcombe Farm in Devon, including loin of Jurassic coast lamb with baby artichokes, aubergine caviar and crisp polenta, and fillet of beef with glazed ginger carrots, roasted garlic, fennel puree and crisp potato cake.

Like the hotel staff, the restaurants wait staff were unpretentious and helpful, and their effort to recommend wines that were both excellent tasting and good value for money was particularly appreciated. Our favourite was the southern Australian Mollydooker The Boxer Shiraz, which we enjoyed with our main course, and we finished the evening with a selection of British and French cheeses.

Michael Carters passion for fresh British produce also extended to breakfast, which was a delight freshly pressed apple juice, flaky sweet pastries, free range bacon and sausage (which I stole from my partners full English breakfast) were on offer, and I lingered over an eggs Benedict while we shared the newspaper that had been left at our bedroom door. It was the ideal, tranquil Sunday morning. After we reluctantly waved goodbye to the Hempels wonderful staff, my partner and I agreed on our slow walk to Paddington that London is more than capable of providing a relaxing romantic weekend away. And to top it off, our train home was on time.

Try it for yourself

The Hempel offers a Stay Two Dine package, which includes:

  • Two nights accommodation for two

  • Full English Breakfast for two in the restaurant or in your own room

  • Three course dinner for 2 on one of the nights (excluding drinks)

Rates from: 239 excluding VAT, per room per night
Based on two people sharing a superior room

Getting there:

5 mins walk from Paddington Station; 5 mins walk from Bayswater Tube station on the Circle and District Line; 5 mins walk from Lancaster Gate station on the Central Line.

The Hempel

31-35 Craven Hill Gardens,
London W2 3EA
TEL: +44 (0)207 298 9000

Latest from the Berkshire Life