Between Buckingham Palace and the posh department stores of Knightsbridge, the Halkin is in a very civilised part of London. Not an area for action, but somewhere I love to stroll among the grand buildings surrounding elegant squares. Your first impressions will be quite different depending on which end of Halkin Street you arrive from: the gracious embassies of Belgrave Square or anonymously busy road Grovesnor Place, a nasty road that leads up to Wellington Arch and car-thronged Hyde Park Corner (also your nearest Underground station).
The Halkin is a masterpiece of a certain kind of refined design: I love the black, curving corridors, with room doors barely visible in the walls. Within each room, the feng shui arrangements emphasise space and ease of movement, but touch panels alongside the beds provide high-tech controls for lights, ‘do not disturb’ and air con, and there’s free internet. Décor is minimalist, but with carefully chosen Oriental pieces and floor-specific colour schemes keyed on different elements (fire, water and so on). Each room has a writing desk and marble-clad bathroom; the King Superiors look over the neat garden at the back and have separate bath and walk-in shower.
This is another hotel that I find a little plain from outside (a tall, brown-brick and white frontage little different from its neighbours), but sumptous and elegant inside. Public spaces are refreshing and pale, with light brown woods and gleaming stone floors. The bar opens out from the lobby to the left, while the brilliant Thai restaurant is directly ahead.
Eating and drinking
A real high point. Nahm is one of London’s finest restaurants and surely its best Thai restaurant. Chef David Thompson’s incredible combinations of colour, flavour and texture made this the first Thai restaurant in Europe to win a Michelin star. The room is simply decorated but lovely, with romantic couple seats against the windows that look into the back garden. At the front of the hotel, the Halkin Bar is less exciting (even the hotel’s own website suggests it would be ‘ideal for a small meeting’), but does serve cocktails and wine, snacks and steaks, as well as afternoon tea. Rarely busy.
The private gym (open 6am-10pm daily) has cardiovascular machines and free weights, and it’s always great having exterior windows. True to the hotel’s Oriental principles, the Halkin can arrange a yoga instructor. There’s also access to the Shambhala Urban Escape spa at the celeb-friendly Met – another hotel run by Christina Ong’s COMO group, just across Green Park from here.
Smart, sleek and appropriately reserved, given the quiet atmosphere.
Who stays there
The stellar restaurant Nahm draws in a lot of local custom. Otherwise, the Halkin’s guests are a refined bunch – business in the week, leisure at weekends.
Book the right day and you can get one of the open-plan Studio Suites or doubles for below the advertised rack rate. Consider paying £30 extra for one of the Superior rooms, which look over the neat little back garden.
- Fitness Centre
- High-Speed Internet
- Room Service
- Culture vultures
Pros & Cons
- Tranquil atmosphere
- Refined design
- Superb restaurant
- Lack of buzz