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A Perfect London Staycation in Kensington with an Italian Twist
Convenience, comfort, style and location are the four things I want from a city centre hotel. Hotel Indigo a boutique hotel in Kensington scores highly in terms of its location – it’s on the Kensington/Earl’s Court border just a two-minute walk from Earl’s Court underground station as well as being well positioned for road links with the A4/M4. It’s also perfectly situated for Heathrow Airport, retail therapy in Knightsbridge at Harrods and Harvey Nichols and the glamour of West End shopping, theatre and restaurants. Kensington itself hosts the Royal Albert Hall – concert venue and home of the BBC Proms – the stylish Victoria and Albert Museum, the dinosaurs at the Natural History Museum, and the period salons at Kensington Palace. Earl’s Court is a funkier destination with live music at the Troubadour, cutting-edge drama at the Finborough Theatre and British ingenuity in the Design Museum. There’s even an artisan London winery around the corner!With so much going on in the neighbourhood and Hotel Indigo’s proximity to the Earl’s Court Road I was concerned that there might be issues with noise; but Barkston Gardens where the hotel sits is a leafy West London oasis that is surprisingly tranquil. The hotel’s design marries its Victorian heritage with a fresh and modern design aesthetic and the addition of Theo’s Simple Italian as an in-house restaurant run by Theo Randall who is one of my favourite chefs made it an exciting prospect to review.Photos of London rock’n roll iconography lead you up the staircases, and with a gym, great WiFi and conference facilities Hotel Indigo has all the elements you need in a boutique hotel to make an urban staycation successful whether for pleasure or business.The bedrooms are ‘boudoir-style’ and like the whole hotel feel freshly put together and well-maintained. The walls feature sepia murals picturing Victorian London life and whilst not huge the beds are super-comfy and great for lazing back in and watching the TV or chilling listening to your sounds from the iPod docking station.I loved the chic black-tiled bathroom with a powerful shower and great smelling Gilchrist & Soames toiletries. There’s nothing like a long hot shower to help you unwind after a hard day at work…And then there was dinner. Boutique hotels don’t always have destination restaurants – but this one really does. I’ve been meaning to eat at Theo’s Simple Italian for a while. It offers all-day trattoria dining, nothing too fancy but beautifully delivered and is clearly a magnet for locals as well as hotel guests in an area lacking in good restaurants. We kicked things off with a crisp glass of Torre Sella Prosecco, full of apple and pear notes.I always think that the quality of the Fritto Misto is a great test of an Italian restaurant. Deep fried squid, red mullet, prawns and zucchini served with a fresh mint, chilli and herb dressing came hot from the fryer in a dry, tasty batter with a garlic mayonnaise giving the seafood a friendly poke in the ribs – delicious!Theo Randall makes some of the best pasta in London so I had to try some. Ravioli di Zucca came al dente with the bite of the pasta contrasting with the delicately flavoured softness of the sheep ricotta and roasted Delica squash interior. Slathered in a classic sage butter sauce this was pasta heaven!For our main course, we ordered a beautifully cooked fillet of sea bream which sat perkily on a bed of potatoes, fennel, datterini tomatoes and capers. The fish skin had a slight char from the heat of the pan which gave the dish a great depth of flavour, and it was a good match for our fresh mineral glass of Cento Cavalli, Grillo from Sicily.Desserts were an exercise in balancing citrus and sweet flavours. A clementine sorbet was a gentle way to cleanse the palate after the preceding big flavours, but the Amalfi lemon tart was a much more intense affair giving the palate a thorough lemony workover – totally pleasurable!After a great night’s sleep, I came down to find the breakfast table laden with artisan breads, pastries and gluten-free bakes. There were cereals, fruit, yoghurts cheese and cold cuts but after a freshly squeezed orange juice and my decaf cappuccino, I wanted something hot.What I loved was that everything on the breakfast menu had a slight twist. The Theo Recommends – a sweet potato rosti with avocado, smoked salmon and poached eggs – was a savoury delight with the rosti adding a welcome crunch. For those with a sweeter tooth, the House Favourite French Toast was an indulgent sweet treat with the eggy bread being a base for a mixed fruit compote and a gorgeous peanut butter and Chantilly cream spread that was unexpectedly light and fluffy.I was really impressed with Hotel Indigo – the hotel manages to deliver all the essentials with a relaxed charm and a sense of style that makes it a real pleasure to stay there. Its location makes it a perfect West London base and it is so easy to get to that there are no excuses for not paying a visit to this charming boutique hotel in Kensington! The addition of Theo’s Simple Italian is really the icing on the cake and it’s great to find a hotel with a reasonably priced restaurant where you actually want to eat.
34 – 44 Barkston Gardens| London | SW5 0EW| United Kingdom| 0207 373 7851
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