Charterhouse Square centres on a lovely area of lawn and trees in a scrubby, dusty bit of the City (there’s no public access to the lawn, but it’s pleasant to stroll around on the cobbles). It’s almost next door to historic Smithfield Market and an easy walk to both the Museum of London and St Paul’s Cathedral. Farringdon and Barbican Underground stations are both close by.
The rooms are plainer than the sultry lobby might suggest – perhaps just as well – but well furnished and with all amenities, including ironing boards, internet (pay after the first half hour) and flatscreen TV. Good bathrooms too. The Square suite is a knockout, with square, four-person cedar wood tub. I was pleased to be on the square side of the hotel when I stayed, but there’s not much to choose between front and back of the hotel for noise given the tucked away location. Suites have windows on both sides of the building; rooms ending in 5, 6 or 7 have views of the square and tend to be a little larger.
The lobby is intimate, pleasantly moody and really rather handsome in its dimly-lit, black and lilac colour scheme - quite a surprise after the matronly white and red-brick uniform of the grand exterior. The Champagne bar and lovers’ seats give character, but there’s plenty of room for reception to operate smoothly.
Eating and drinking
Malmaison makes a lot of their food and, especially, wine, and both menu and wine list are a great read. The cooking has been patchy, though, in my experience. Certainly good enough if you’re short of time or energy, but there are several better options for the price up St John Street and on and around Exmouth Market. The breakfasts are good, but also pricey - perhaps best to stick to the great lunch and dinner deals.
The conservatory-style sloped roof makes the most of available light in the small, well-equipped gym – a nice change from basement sweatshops.
Crisply turned out but relaxed, friendly and often a step ahead of requests - a forgotten jumper was returned to me before I realised I’d lost it, for example.
Who stays there
The Mals are popular as a classy leisure choice, especially at weekends, but they make most of their money through weekday business custom. Still, expect a mixed crowd - all ages and places were represented when I was last in, from Scotland to Japan.
The rack rate for a double room will drop in you book in advance and/or at weekends - you can find a real bargain here if it works with your travel dates.
- Fitness Centre
- High-Speed Internet
- Room Service
- Business travellers
- Culture vultures
- Mature travellers
- Special occasions
Pros & Cons
- Nicely appointed bathrooms
- Chic lobby
- Quiet but central
- Standard rooms a little sober
- Food could be better for the price