This is the newest opening in South Kensington, an area popular with visitors to London. It’s a contemporary design-led boutique hotel and only opened last week yet I’ve already been for a look around.
Xenia is on Cromwell Road and about ten minutes walk away from the famous South Kensington Museums (Natural History Museum, Science Museum and the V&A). The Victorian building was previously the run-down Majestic Hotel but it closed in 2012 for an extensive transformation under new ownership.
The Greek word for generosity and courtesy shown to those who are far from home is Xenia making this an excellent name for a new hotel. Staff are both welcoming and professional and the hotel has joined the Great Hotels of the World group. There are six other GHOTW properties in London including The Landmark London and St James’s Hotel so they are in impressive company from the start.
As the first space you experience on your arrival at Hotel Xenia, the Lobby sets the tone with Tom Kirk chandeliers complimenting the high Georgian ceiling.
Xenia is five floors high and has 99 guest rooms with prices from £160 up to £600 for a suite (excluding VAT). The rooms feel very calm and tranquil; even the rooms that face the busy main road are well soundproofed yet you can watch London life below. The Cole & Son wall coverings complement the muted metallic tones and while you know you are in a historic building the contemporary interiors are right up to date. Guest rooms have ivory deep pile carpets and the signature Hotel Xenia details include hand-woven cashmere blankets on all the beds. Technology is in every room with a Samsung tablet loaded with a guest directory and hotel information – you can even order room service by clicking on the photos in the menu. All rooms have large flat screen TVs, Bluetooth compatible wireless speakers and there’s free wifi for all guests.
The room levels move from Classic (small but beautiful) to Executive, Deluxe and Suite whose guests are offered access to the Lounge serving complimentary light refreshments between 5pm and 7pm daily. A nice extra so it may well be worth upgrading your booking.
I would have liked to see more storage space, particularly room for a suitcase under the bed would have been appreciated, but the hotel had a secret to win me over: a rooftop bar just for guest use! This was still being finished when I visited but oh wow, the views will be magnificent making this a fabulous place for an evening cocktail.
Speaking of cocktails, the hotel’s Living Wall bar on the ground floor is the place for meeting friends in the evening and even has its own herb garden terrace which will appeal to cigar smokers as the hotel will soon have its own cigar selection available.
The hotel’s Italian restaurant has an interesting food concept: Art Joins Nutrition. This means there is a focus on healthy eating principles, choosing and portioning ingredients carefully whilst cooking them in such a way that they maintain their intensity of flavour and nutrients. Not only will it all taste good but the natural properties of the ingredients should help prevent illness and promote anti-ageing. A balanced three courses will come in under 800 calories but there will still be classic Italian dishes we know and love such as ravioli, risotto and tiramisu. This conservatory restaurant has an outdoor terrace for al fresco dining, plus a private dining room too.
The idea was developed by Italian nutritionist, chef and university lecturer Chiara Manzi whose book will soon be published in English. Xenia’s chef Pasquale D’Ambrosio follows Manzi’s principles and has worked in Rome, Paris, Tokyo, New York and Istanbul. While not yet a well known name in the UK he is a celebrity chef in Italy and has appeared on an array of Italian cookery shows.
It sounds like a really interesting idea but no menus were available when I visited last week. I’m looking forward to seeing the reviews soon and maybe trying a meal there myself too.
Below the restaurant, there’s another hidden gem. A great space that will be used for wine tasting – the cellar is being stocked this month – and can be hired for events. It also has a huge 3D screen so will make an excellent private cinema. I spotted a blue plaque on a building opposite the hotel marking where Alfred Hitchcock lived so hopefully we’ll see some Hitchcock film nights here soon.
Address: Hotel Xenia London, 160 Cromwell Road, London SW5 0TL
Tel: 020 7442 4242
Laura Porter writes the About.com London Travel site and is also a VisitBritain Super Blogger. She’s @AboutLondon on twitter and fits in further freelance writing while sustaining an afternoon tea addiction to rival the Queen’s.