Perched on the side of Richmond Hill, The Petersham Hotel is a gorgeous 4-star hotel in Richmond overlooking the bend of the River Thames and the surrounding Petersham Meadows. Built in 1865, this historical hotel has 58 elegant bedrooms and an award-winning 2 AA Rosettes restaurant.
If Victorian buildings are your cup of tea, then you’ll love this glorious example of Victorian architecture at its finest, which at the time it was built was referred to as ‘florid Italian Gothic’ style.
The first thing that strikes you when you enter the lobby is the magnificent Portland stone staircase, which seems to go on for days. If you continue to cast your gaze upwards toward the magnificent ceiling, you’ll notice a plethora of intricate oil paintings - the work of Italian painter Ferdinando Galli - which further adds to the hotel’s opulent feel.
Guests can choose from a variety of rooms including Classic Bedrooms (the most budget friendly option), Superior Bedrooms overlooking the countryside, Classic Riverview Bedrooms overlooking the Thames or for those who really want to treat themselves - the Penthouse Suite.
We stayed in one of the Classic River View rooms, which had large floor-to-ceiling windows and a patio door, which led onto a long narrow balcony with two iron chairs, which would have been the perfect place to sit and enjoy a cuppa as we watched the boats go down the river had it not been a dreary January afternoon! Needless to say, it was still a pleasure lying in bed and look at that view. The décor was very traditional, think heavy drapes and antique style furniture, but having looked at the website, some of the rooms feature more modern décor.
The best feature of our room was our HUGE bathroom, which was the size of most bedrooms, boasting a large bathtub and shower, both of which fit two people comfortably, should you wish to have a cheeky, romantic weekend.
Feel like a star for a weekend
After we settled into our room, the hotel’s friendly and knowledgeable concierge took us on a tour of the hotel, where we learned that the hotel has been graced by many stars from the worlds of sport, music and film. If you stroll the halls, you’ll see a Hall of Fame with pictures of famous guests who have visited such as Mick Jagger, Jerry Hall, Catherine Zeta Jones, Sandra Bullock and Michael Douglas, who stayed at the hotel for two weeks in hopes of escaping the prying masses while holing up to read a script.
The hotel is also exceptionally popular with brides who want to feel like a star for the day. During our stay a wedding was in progress, which made our visit feel all the more special as we watched the bride and groom in all their finery flit from room to room with their photographer in search of the perfect photo opportunity.
The Petersham Restaurant
The 2AA Rosettes Petersham Restaurant has become a foodie destination thanks to chef Adebola Adeshina, whose culinary credentials include working with the Aubergine team under Gordon Ramsey and at Petrus under Marcus Wareing.
The décor is elegant with inky blue furnishings and mirrored walls featuring sconce lighting, which lend an air of Art Deco chic to the restaurant, while its navy velvet chairs and crisp white table linens add a sense of formality.
The restaurant is unique in that the large picture windows afford guests at every table the opportunity to drink in views of the serene River Thames as they enjoy classic modern British cuisine, focusing on fresh, seasonal produce. Diners can order from a variety of menus including an a la carte or fixed price menu or they can enjoy a spot of afternoon tea or a hearty Sunday lunch.
The food at The Petersham Restaurant
When we visited on a Friday evening, we plumped for the three-course dinner menu, enjoying starters of rabbit terrine - very moist and a great balance of flavours without tasting too ‘gamey’ - and the pork belly served with a spiced apple - also tasty, but not nearly as nice as the rabbit, which was in a league of its own.
For mains, I opted for a whole Dover Sole, which was expertly de-boned by our waiter at the table, accompanied by new potatoes and a mini jug of an indulgent brown butter sauce with capers, which added a buttery saltiness to the fish. It was also served with a lemon presented in a muslin cloth - a nice touch to the overall presentation.
My husband sprung for the Halibut with chorizo and lentils, which was exceptionally moreish - and very photogenic as you can see below!
Although we were stuffed to the gills after dinner (no pun intended), after seeing fellow diners greedily devouring the Cherry Soufflé, there was no question which dessert we’d be going for. When the soufflé arrived in all its fluffily risen glory it didn’t disappoint. Its lovely smooth texture and intense cherry flavour was in one word - sublime. We felt like MasterChef’s Gregg Wallace as we slowly savoured each bite, trying our best not to coo with pleasure to avoid strange looks from neighbouring diners.
Throughout our meal service was faultless and attentive without being intrusive. The mark of a great restaurant.
Another lovely addition to the hotel is their wine cellar, which boasts an extensive wine list that would appeal to any wine connoisseur. The cellar is small and quaint with two rooms for hosting tastings. Within the cellar, thousands of bottles line the walls, giving the impression that one could have a very good time here indeed!
There is also a separate room for champagne, which was only half full but I was informed that they went through a LOT of fizz over the festive period. It would be rude not to imbibe after all! For those who want a private tasting, the cellar can be hired out for groups of 12 or more.
This is a fabulous place to stay if you want a peaceful retreat away from the madness of London but near enough that it's an easy journey when you're ready to join the seething masses feeling fully restored.
Oh winter, you soul-destroying beast of a season. When storms are raging outside there’s really only one thing to do. Well actually there’s two; jet off to the Caribbean and wave goody to a soggy English winter or - if, like me, your budget won’t permit the former - hibernate. While I love getting cosy at home as much as the next person, nothing beats an indulgent night at a hotel, closing the world out, battening down the hatches, calling up room service and having a bit of a pamper. I think I might have just found the perfect London hotel in which to do just that…
Nestled in the heart of Belgravia, amid sweeping terraces and stucco mansions, The Hari relaunched at the end of August (you may remember its former incarnation as Belgraves). Despite its slick and modern design it manages to feel welcomingly cosy the moment you step through the door, with a lobby littered with enticing sofas and a glass fireplace. With 85 rooms this independent hotel feels compact and refined, despite taking up most of a city block.
The Rooms at The Hari
After a stressful week at work, checking in on a Friday evening was a dream come true. I headed straight upstairs to the room, the utterly dreamy King Studio Suite; from the moment we met, it was love. From the perfectly sized curl-up-with-a-book velvet sofa, which fit snugly into the bay window, to the Nespresso machine ready for the morning, the pile of glossy magazines begging to be read and the fresh robes and slippers laid out for us, it was a room that screamed hibernation in every one of its 44 square metres.
The bar at The Hari
We did, however, first manage to nip down to the bar for a cocktail or two; I heartily recommend The Lady Is Not For Turning, with Bulleit bourbon, rosemary, lime juice and egg white. No big, brash, ballsy hotel bar here - the vibe is relaxed, refined, refreshing - think armchairs and sofas, bookshelves around every corner and soft lighting. Everything about this place screams chill time. We settled in one of the velvet-lined booths next to the bar and savoured our drinks, accompanied by some rather tasty onion rings and crispy squid before heading back upstairs to make the most of the night of R&R, though there’s also a rather lovely looking garden terrace open should a nightcap under the stars be more your thing.
I always find it’s the little touches that truly make an experience and The Hari was no exception; bikes are available for guests who want to explore the local area, each room comes with a pre-programmed mobile device, packed with things to do, places to see and local recommendations and in an adorable finishing touch, a lucky penny was left on the bed. Everything about the rooms and the hotel’s offering has been well thought through to ensure a truly memorable experience.
For me, it was the bathroom that sealed the deal. Coming from a rented flat with a slightly minging tub, the sheer indulgence of having a bubble bath in a spacious marble tub, set in a bay window overlooking the rooftops of Belgravia was worth its weight in gold; what a showstopper of a tub. Bubble bath complete, robe on, Veuve Cliquot popped, I settled down to watch Graham Norton with a face mask on - even though the rain was lashing at the windows, such a star of a suite made the outside world disappear.
Of course, no hotel stay is complete without breakfast and if there’s the option for breakfast in bed, who am I to resist? We ordered the night before, hung it on the door and hey presto - at 9.30 there was a knock at the door with a tray of eggs, coffee and juice (though I must say I was tempted by the peanut butter and jelly French toast with strawberries and cream…). Nothing beats a lazy breakfast with a spot of Saturday Kitchen - the absolutely perfect start to the weekend.
London has a lot of hotels, granted, but few have what The Hari does; it really does feel like a home from home. Quiet, elegant and polished, it’s almost anonymous - in a good way - a far cry from some of what this city has to offer. If you’re in for a cosy winter night somewhere, make it the top of your list.
The Hari London
20 Chesham Place
Though the lure of cheap airline seats, affordable European city breaks and Mediterranean sunshine is ever present in my world, the fact that we reside on one of the most richly historical and cultural islands in the Western world means there’s never any shortage of home-grown breaks to indulge in. From the cobbles of Cambridge to the beaches of Devon, I’m determined to start making the most of Britain and its beauty and exploring more of our fair land this year.
When I found myself in Glasgow recently, I decided to indulge in some well-earned R&R with a night at the Blythswood Square Hotel & Spa. Having heard more than one or two complimentary reports on this city centre oasis, I couldn’t wait to visit.
Perfectly situated only a few minutes’ walk from the bustling shops, restaurants, galleries and attractions Glasgow city centre, Blythswood Square seems a world away from the buzz of the city. The award-winning five-star hotel is one of the most elegant in the city, taking up one side of Blythswood Square overlooking beautiful gardens (though the view was a tad grey and blustery the day I arrived…) and features 100 guest rooms including suites and a rather impressive penthouse. The lobby instantly transports you back in time; heels clack on the black and white tiled floor, little red velvet lined seating nooks call out for your you to sink in with the weekend papers and the impeccably dressed doorman doffing his cap to you can’t help but make you stand a little straighter and walk a little taller.
With a chic restaurant, garden view salon, fully-loaded spa, private dining rooms and private screening room, you’d be hard-pressed to want to leave its four walls.
The Rooms at Blythswood
Good luck not falling in love with your room the moment you step through the door. The decor in my Deluxe Room was luxurious yet understated. The room had a beautifully comfortable king size bed (complete with pillow menu, naturally) and an absolutely dreamy bespoke Spanish marble bathroom with a huge tub and rain shower, making scheduling a time to get into that tub number one on my to-do list!
The spa at Blythswood
With a Scottish storm full-on raging outside, there was nothing better to do with my Friday afternoon than really get away from it all by paying a visit to the 10,000 square foot basement spa.
One wouldn’t think that a city centre building would have the space to accommodate nine treatment rooms, a thermal suite, two relaxation pools, a lounge and café area and additional relaxation rooms, but lo and behold this cavernous subterranean wonderland does just that.
Slipping into a robe and flip flops, we managed to while away three hours quite easily, flitting between the walk-through hydrotherapy pool, sauna, crystal steam room, laconium, saunarium and vitality pool, before falling asleep on one of the heated tiled beds in the toasty tepidarium.
Treatments on offer vary from signature hot stone massages, seaweed body wraps and rhassouls to couples’ massages, detoxing body scrubs and chakra-aligning experiences. I indulged (the only word for it really) in a relaxing massage, using seaweed oil from local Hebridean beauty brand ishga; so lovely to see a spa supporting local brands and businesses and it’s certainly a beauty brand I’m going to be trying again.
The restaurant at Blythswood
After floating back up to the room on a cloud of bliss to chill out in front of the TV, my guest and I headed down to the restaurant. Inspired by local Scottish favourites, the dishes focus on classics with a twist and European flavours,
The Restaurant at Blythswood Square comes with impeccable reviews and is obviously a big hitter on the Glasgow dining scene. Housed in a majestic former RSAC ballroom, it’s certainly an elegant setting in which to enjoy dishes such as hand-dived scallops, cured Loch Etive trout and slow cooked ox cheek.
With a menu full of tempting dishes, we’d need to visit again to work our way through the menu. During our visit, we had the pistachio-crusted goat’s cheese mousse, with beetroot, curly endive, apple gel and rye wafers, a perfectly light intro before my steamed fillet of lemon sole with a potato cake, roast shallots, lobster scampi and lobster bisque. While my dish was delicious, I did get a slight dose of food envy at the chicken and duck liver parfait that arrived across the table however, resplendent with blood orange and hibiscus fluid gel, shaved fennel salad and sourdough wafers, accompanied with a fresh, warm bread basket we couldn’t get enough of.
The wild Highland venison with date and darjeeling tea puree, honey spiced beetroot, red wine pickled salsify and red wine sauce looked particularly good and - uncouth as it may be - I couldn’t help but have a nose around at the other dishes that were arriving on surrounding tables throughout our meal. Everything looked - and smelt - sublime - and judging by the empty plates everywhere one presumes it tasted it too. Try and leave space for dessert if you can, the gingerbread cheesecake with honeycomb and gingerbread crumb won’t disappoint.
If not being lured out to the bright lights of a night in Glasgow, I can heartily recommend the aforementioned bubble bath, wrapping up in a cosy bathrobe and getting into that glorious bed for a night in front of your screen; with Pitch Perfect 2 on the TV and a bottle of prosecco on ice, my tonic for the perfect night in.
Although the thought of a 7am wake up on a Saturday was enough to make me want to stay in bed, my woes were eased by a hearty Scottish breakfast consisting of tattie scones, haggis and smoothie station.
Work or play, when looking for accommodation in Glasgow, I urge you to eschew the Hiltons and Marriotts of the world and embrace the independent. My night at Blythswood was one of the most relaxing and reviving I’ve had in a long time and when aligned with big chains I’ve stayed with in the past, there really is no contest.
Overnight stays including bed and breakfast from £160. Market Menu lunch at the Restaurant at Blythswood Square from £18.50 per person for two courses, dinner from £20 per person for two courses. Afternoon Tea in The Salon from £28 per person.
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