A magnet for media and entertainment types, darling. Interiors are charmingly retro, service is polished, breakfasts are excellent, and the Nuno Mendes restaurant is popular with the likes of Cara Delevingne, Kate Moss, David Beckham and Kylie Minogue.
Housed in a fire station dating from 1887, the building has huge charm. The street on which Chiltern Firehouse stands has been recently regenerated street and is now lined with interesting shops. Happily the traditional barber’s shop and the newsagent opposite have not been swept away, thanks to the help of Chiltern Firehouse owner André Balazs, also known for the Mercer and Château Marmont.
Address:1 Chiltern Street, Marylebone, London W1U 7PA, England.
Style & character
The original façade has been restored and the former ladder shed is now the guest lobby; the engine house holds the restaurant, with bedrooms above; and the newly constructed extension in between holds the horseshoe-shaped bar and a courtyard for outdoor seating. The whole is compact, but it works. The comfort and happiness of the guests have been given impressive thought and you feel it the moment you are ushered in by doormen straight from central casting (head doorman Matt McClure really is also an actor). The interiors, by Paris-based Studio KO, are timeless, homely, stylish, vintage and glamorous. You won’t want to leave. Humour is there too: in the Ladies, ‘Cigarettes and Men’ is scrawled lipstick-style on a glass door; open it and you are in a cute smoking area.
Service & facilities
Superb: friendly, polished, relaxed, swift – just how we like it today. General Manager Guillaume Marly has the Ritz and Claridges behind him and has assembled an impressive team. Simplicity and directness is the key: no directories for ‘housekeeping’, ‘room service’, ‘reception’ etc; instead, a handwritten note by the bedroom telephone: “Dial 0 for everything”. Mind you, I’d still like area information in the room, currently missing. Perhaps a quirky, instructive, amusingly illustrated booklet that guests could keep as a memento of their stay.
As is so often the case these days, all the rooms are decorated the same. However, at the Chiltern Firehouse, their decoration is so charmingly retro, sensible and domestic, yet stylish and original, that it matters far less than in other hotels. Looks and comfort wise, rooms are impossible to fault.
Food & drink
The hullaballoo that accompanied Nuno Mendes’s arrival has died down; he will doubtless soon open a separate gastronomic restaurant where he can practice his culinary wizardry; in the meantime the food on a monthly changing menu is delicious without being exceptional, and perfectly suited to the crowded, brasserie-style surroundings. Breakfast, from a basket of pastries to inventive cooked dishes, is excellent. The service, by accomplished waiters chosen for their personality, is brilliant. At times, the restaurant only just avoids being unbearably crowded.
Access for guests with disabilities?
Yes: lifts and one specially adapted room.
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