A New London Boutique Hotel – Victory House, Leicester Square:
One of my favourite luxury hotel groups, Sofitel, has a boutique range that with my love of smaller, quirky hotels I’m amazed I had never heard of. In fairness, Victory House only opened a couple of months ago – and it’s the first MGallery hotel in London. A collection of premium boutique hotels by Sofitel, currently in six countries with three key themes each of which should appeal to even the most jaded of travellers – life, literature and culture. A central London boutique hotel is rare – so I was keen to find out more.
Victory House, situated just off Leicester Square is in the heart of the West End of London – Theatre Land and takes its theme from a proximity to the red carpet of the Odeon Leicester Square. It’s a boutique hotel right in the heart of London – just minutes walk from Soho and with all the buzz of Covent Garden a stone’s throw away. Yet, it’s comfortable, luxurious and intimate.
You’ll find screenings of old movies in all the hallways and lobbies. And, the rooms are charmingly decorated with photos of your favourite stars. Mine, a small but perfectly formed suite on the sixth and top floor had a compact lounge, a wonderfully comfortable bed and a well-fitted shower room with quirky fittings and an excellent range of luxury toiletries from a brand which turns out to be from New York Greenwich village, the oldest surviving apothecary–pharmacy in the U.S.A. Perfect for those visiting film stars perhaps?
I was particularly impressed to find two fluffy white bathrobes and slippers tucked away in the cupboard, fresh milk, juice and two large bottles of mineral water in the fridge together with a range of delicious snacks on the sideboard.
A kettle and a coffee machine with premium teas and coffees completed the ‘stay-in’ factor.
But the room also came with a handy phone – a device I didn’t need, which I was told would provide me with London maps and the ability to phone both in the UK and to other international destinations. It provides visitors with a portable digital facility so that they can use apps like city mapper without worrying about roaming charges.
I really loved the styling of the various rooms with the kind of modern Scandi features that we’d all like to have at home, decorated in muted greys with jewel-rich colour pops. There are options to have a suite like mine and a range of different room sizes and layouts.
The executive rooms come with cosy seating areas, some of which look directly out over Leicester Square, while standard rooms are compact and would be perfect if you are not planning to do much in the room other than sleep and perhaps enjoy a room service breakfast.
Some of the rooms can be set up to provide an interconnecting space and their own entrance hall area which would be ideal for small groups or families. Sofitel is known for their comfortable beds and all the MGallery rooms had beds with sumptuous mattress toppers, ultra soft pillows and pristine white cotton bed linen.
While the hotel lobby is small, there’s a doorman and 24-hour reception staff. And, the Petit Bistro has the promise of providing a charming and intimate space for a meal or snack.
Booked in for dinner there, we were a little sad to learn that the menus are currently being redeveloped and as such there was a perfectly formed set menu but no other options. Bad timing on our part, but I’d far rather a restaurant offered a well executed limited menu than produced anything less than perfect. We ordered a consolation glass of pink fizz. There’s a neat wine list and the prices are bistro rather than hotel levels, so this was £8 for a larger than average glass, while champagne started at £10 a glass.
Both of us chose escargot as a starter. Nicely cooked and presented, they might have benefitted from more garlic butter – and certainly would have been better served with a basket of bread. They were clearly good quality though – not a hint of grit and none of that rubbery texture you sometimes find with escargot.
My companion’s confit duck was marked as a house speciality and was the more successful of the two main courses. Meltingly tender, it comes served on a bed of buttered savoy cabbage with red wine jus and was delicious. There were no side dishes on the menu but the staff kindly brought a plate of sauteed potatoes and some vegetables for her.
Onglet for me was perfectly cooked with a good pink centre. The accompanying frites were nice, crisp and clearly freshly prepared and there was a small pot of bearnaise sauce to accompany it (with a choice of other sauces if preferred. But, I’d suggest offering an alternative cut for steak even if it meant paying a small premium on the price of the set menu. An onglet doesn’t have that feeling of ‘luxury’ for me and, especially if you are intent on the perfect instagram shot, will get cold very quickly. I’m sure this kind of thing will be resolved once the new menu is released.
To finish we both enjoyed a creme brulee which was nicely crunchy on top with a creamy rich custard base, just as it should be.
And, with the set menu at just under £25 for three courses, it was excellent value – in the summer the al-fresco terrace, which seats up to 40 people, will be a real treasure
Back upstairs, a full turndown service with water and glasses on the bedside tables and tiny packets of designer popcorn on the pillow was a pleasant surprise. These are the kind of finishing touches, sometimes overlooked in 5-star hotels, which I personally really appreciate.
I had been concerned about the street noise in this, one of the liveliest parts of London. At 7 pm when I went to my room before dinner, I could hear the buskers in the square. But, by the time I returned to my room at around 10 pm things were really not bad. Not the kind of silence you get in the heart of the country but definitely not the noise level I’d anticipated, just a gentle murmuring from the pedestrianised street below. By the time I hopped into bed, that had all but died out completely and I slept blissfully well.
The next morning after a shower and a cup of tea in my room, I went downstairs to a busy Petit Bistro transformed into the breakfast room. While the main restaurant offering may be in transition, the breakfast proposition was excellent. I ordered a full English without beans and some toast together with a pot of tea.
There’s a small but nicely balanced continental style buffet section with fresh fruit, yoghurt, cheese and meats and some delicious looking pastries. And a breakfast menu that includes all the old favourites – pancakes, eggs every way you might like them and of course the full English.
I was impressed with the quality of the ingredients – deliciously honey sweet bacon, a good meaty pork sausage and eggs that even I managed to eat! Had I more of an appetite, I would have tried some of the buffet offering too.
Checkout was quick and efficient. The team at Victory House are charmingly friendly, the type of people who know every guest by name and who are looking ahead at every point to make sure everyone is well cared for. We felt like old friends by the time I admitted to having forgotten my toothbrush.
I really loved this quirky London boutique hotel. The West End of London is an amazing location to stay in and the opportunity to do that somewhere which is pristine, comfortable and friendly with some excellent and personal touches of luxury makes this somewhere I’d happily recommend. It’s not for you if you want the formality of a large five star or need an in-house gym and spa. But, for somewhere to spend a weekend break in London I suspect this is spot on for many people. After all, where else in London can you genuinely claim to have spent the night in the company of famous stars and the glitterati of the city. Even if you just happen to be tucked up in your room, watching them parading along the red carpet below.
Room rates at Victory House start at £200 a night and can be booked through the hotel’s own website
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Disclosure: I was a guest of Victory House for the purpose of writing this review. All content is editorially given and all photos are my own except the first image – London skies in February seldom show hotels at their best;)