I stepped out of the London underground and into Sloane Square in the midst of rush hour. Relieved to be out in the open, I almost forgot where it was that I had arrived.
It was dark and wet; the perfect recipe for a miserable mood. But not for me. I found satisfaction in the crunching of the autumnal leaves beneath my feet, and the twinkling of the Christmas lights that lined the Sloane Square store fronts. I weaved my way through the crowds of people, admiring the bow wrapped around the Tiffany & Co building and peering in at all that sparkled in the Cartier window display. I slipped off down a cobbled side street and stood for a moment; taking in the quiet and calm of Chelsea’s prestigious residential area.
Within minutes, I stumbled upon 11 Cadogan Gardens.
The flag of Great Britain wavered in the wind above the grand hotel entrance reminding me I was in the country’s capital, while the distinct sound of my boots brushing against the doormat reminded me of home. The sound of my suitcase wheels followed me into the hotel and to reception. “Good evening, Miss Smith” said a smartly dressed man in a suit. I was taken aback by surprise. How did he know who I was, I asked. To which he modestly smiled and nodded his head. I guessed it was just that kind of hotel.
Built by Lord Chelsea in the late 19th century, 11 Cadogan Gardens was originally four separate Victorian townhouses, which explains the ‘hickledy-pickledy’ myriad of corridors, staircases and hallways throughout the hotel. Steeped in history, the stairways of the four-storey building and the drawing room are lined with old-fashioned portraits while the original elevator requires you to pull back the caged door upon entering. Jittery the elevator may be, but I saw it only as a reminder of the remarkable building that I had the pleasure of staying in.
I stepped out of the elevator and followed the chaperone to my suite, who placed my bag inside and left me to it. I shut the door behind him, took just two steps into the room, and stopped.
Three low-level sash windows soared up to the ceiling with gold lustrous curtains hanging heavily either side. A three-piece suite encircled a small coffee table with an array of magazines fanned out on the glass top. A grand four-poster bed lied beyond with two oversized lampshades sat either side. My eyes didn’t know where to look next. I resisted the urge to dive into the silky sheets and hibernate from the wintery night outside, and continued over to the bathroom.
I slowly pressed down the door handle and peered into the bathroom as though I was sneaking into somebody else’s home. White marble drenched the bathroom where mirrors did not. Light bounced from mirror to mirror and the gleam of polished marble had me lost for words (a rare occurrence, might I add).
I suddenly remembered that I had a dinner reservation downstairs in just twenty minutes, and that I should be getting ready rather than swooning over the suite that I never wanted to leave.
I tiptoed downstairs to the Hans’ Bar and Grill and was seated at a white marble table beneath a glass opening in the ceiling and a collection of lowly hung trailing plants. The atmosphere felt casual and relaxed, while the decor was seamlessly beautiful. Natural brick walls complimented the brown leather booth seating that lined one corner of the restaurant, while another corner was a perfect pairing of green and grey.
Before I could even think about food, my eyes wandered straight to the cocktail list. I opted for a white wine sangria, and ordered some cauliflower cheese croquettes to nibble on while I spent some time being incredibly indecisive about what to choose from the menu. I opted for the quinoa salad to start which was a refreshing mix of broccoli, beetroot, pomegranate, and spiced yoghurt.
The starter was light, which I was thankful for when I saw the size of the fillet steak. I kept it simple and ordered a side of french fries and red wine sauce. As a lover of steak, I tend to be a bit of a steak snob. Though, I have to admit, it came as quite the surprise that the Hans’ Bar and Grill steak is up there with one of the best steaks I’ve had in London. It was cooked to perfection and quite literally melted in my mouth. There really was no need for a steak knife. The red wine sauce was the perfect companion and I didn’t leave a single mouthful on my plate.
With not much room left, but a dessert menu that simply could not be resisted, I ordered the chocolate fondant. I’m often disappointed with chocolate fondants as they’re either too rich or don’t even have enough sauce – I hardly ever get one that’s just right; until now. I pressed my spoon straight through the middle and the chocolate came oozing out and spilled out onto the plate. The hazelnut ice cream was the perfect accompaniment, and I ate every last bit. Not bad for somebody who was feeling full.
Another white wine sangria washed it all down and I made my way back upstairs to my heavenly suite. After throwing all sorts of lotions and potions into the bath I got into bed and drifted off into the deepest sleep.
I woke in the morning and ordered a light breakfast in bed. To be honest, I couldn’t believe I felt even the slightest bit hungry after the meal I’d had the night before. I tucked into a pain au chocolate and sipped on an americano beneath the sheets, before jumping into the shower and getting ready to hit the streets of Chelsea.
The iconic English boutique hotel is nestled among the residential properties near Sloane Square in the heart of Chelsea, just a stones throw away from Knightsbridge. And we all know what Chelsea and Knightsbridge are known for… shopping, of course! I wandered out of the hotel into London’s most aspirational shopping district and walked past the likes of Saint Laurent, Prada, Chanel and of course, Harvey Nichols and Harrods.
11 Cadogan Gardens is the perfect base for a bit of Christmas shopping in the capital, or even a night of sheer in-suite relaxation and upscale dining. Whatever your reason for staying in the capital, 11 Cadogan Gardens is the perfect choice.