Michael Edwards ventures into the leafy lanes of Kensington to experience a night at Roseate House London.
They keep whisky in the safe at Roseate House London. Even more surprising is the “Strictly for Medicinal Purposes Only” label on the Old Mock. That is explained by the fact that it was distilled in spring 1916 and bottled in the fall of 1933 during America’s prohibition. A time when “patients” happily (desperately?) paid their doctors to write a prescription.
It is a warming vintage with spicy caramel, butterscotch, a touch of burdock and a great finish that screams “Bourbon!” So I’m told. At £660 per glass, I didn’t trouble the barman to open the safe.
With a 72 page guide to whisky from Campbeltown through India to the USA, the Hyde Bar, with one of London’s best-stocked bars, is the place to brush up on your whisky-tasting. Perhaps trying a Campbeltown with its sense of sea-mist, often called “the deepest voice in the choir.” If whisky is not your thing there is also a wide range of gin, vodka and wine.
Arriving at the classically imposing white-stucco Roseate House London on Westbourne Terrace you might expect the ambience of a hushed gentleman’s club. Yes, there are Victorian oils portraits, extravagantly turbaned Indian sepoys, hussars charging for Queen and Empire. But chic greys, industrial-looking orbs of light dangling above the bar and a discretely chilled play-list give The Hyde Bar a surprisingly contemporary edge.
Another bar from the past contributes to the architecture of the black-and-white floor-tiled reception. Long ago, there was an honesty bar for arriving and departing guests. No longer operational, now the back-lit gin and whisky bottles have become part of the Italian marquetry furniture.
Back in 1842, when the three houses that make up Roseate House London were built, London, becoming capital of the world, confidently aspired to the imperial grandeur of Athens or Rome. Doric columns, balustraded balconies and white stucco created elegant wedding-cake townhouses. Stately London plane trees were planted with an eye to a future leafy grandeur. Today, those maple-leafed trees contribute to a surprisingly peaceful cocoon at the heart of London.
Throughout the hotel, art expert Jonty Hearnden has displayed a collection of original oil-paintings, water-colours and line-drawings evoking the discrete decorum of a lost age. In the Junior Suite, a mini-gallery in its own right, these pieces hang on warm roseate walls above the paisley tapestry sofa in the lounge, above a mahogany table hosting the upmarket tea and coffee.
At the heart of the bedroom is a wide hand-made Bellestrata four-poster bed, made-up with Irish linen sheets and traditional blankets. The headboard features the summer flowers that a Victorian country lady would have pressed in her hours of leisure.
Although a Sanitan wash-down closet and gleaming Lefroy and Brooks taps continue the Victorian theme, the brightly light limestone bathroom, with a bath large enough for Mr Pickwick, is full of modern comforts. Including premium Penhaligon Blenheim Bouquet toiletries, from a fragrance originally created for the Duke of Marlborough.
Inevitably, the pandemic has created changes. Lockdown provided the opportunity to create the Italianate sun trap Secret Garden. The hotel also provides a Work from Roseate offer, a chance to escape from household noise and provide a luxury backdrop to conference calls. Create your own work-station in one of the rooms: with coffee, tea and water on hand, lunch in the Hyde Bar and Restaurant – or from room service – included. The workday ends with a cocktail. You can even take your dog along for the day.
When chef Rajesh Maharjan arrived, after working in India, Dubai and the U.K. he had plans to introduce innovative new flavours to the menus. Covid-19 has put his plans on hold with the Hyde Restaurant offering an All Day Dining menu.
Though Maharjan’s style emerges on the current menu. East meets West in a lightly spiced king prawn pasta with wilted bock choi. A meatily textured vegan burger promises a bright future for vegans at The Hyde.
Although a decadent Chocolate Fondant with a molten middle is probably the most frequently ordered dessert on the menu, the aesthetic prize for most tempting appearance must go to the vanilla cheesecake with mixed berries compote.
Just five-minutes walk from Paddington station and five-minutes too from Hyde Park, the Roseate House London, on one of the city’s quietest and most elegant streets, has an enviable location.
Tell Me More About Roseate House London
Roseate House 3, Westbourne Terrace, Lancaster Gate, Tyburbia, London W2 3UL
T: 020 7479 6600
The Roseate Junior Suite begins from £251.