Following a complete redesign of its interiors over the course of 12 months, The Kensington Hotel has launched once more with refurbished guest rooms, a redesigned restaurant and a brand new drinking den; K Bar. Never ones to miss out on a hotly anticipated opening, we polished up and went down to South Kensington to see what all the fuss was about.
Set between Old Brompton Road and Queen’s Gate, The Kensington is part of the Doyle Collection, and the first of the group’s eight properties to unveil a new look following a multi-million investment. Boutique at heart, the 136-room property is fresh, contemporary and cosy all at once, with a restaurant named Town House taking up the large part of the ground floor over three adjoining rooms, consisting of The Library, The Study and The White Room with a covered, heated terrace for chilly days.
But on this occasion, we weren’t here for an elegant three-course meal – on the contrary, we came to prop up the bar. K Bar makes an excellent first impression, styled as a classy gentleman’s club: deep oak bookcases and wood panelling, soft furnishings in a palette of olive and navy, leather wingback chairs and velvet couches. A collection of heritage sport artwork adds to the masculine feel, while crystal chandeliers twinkle overhead and brass accents on the bar catch the eye.
Headed up by bar manager Ben Manchester, formerly of Hotel du Vin Brighton, the cocktail list is a carefully curated collection of boozy delights. On the night, we were eager to try a number of K Bar’s finest – starting off with a Rye Sling Star, which combined Knob Creek Rye, Cherry Heering, Applejack, Green Chartreuse, Cherry Bitters, apple juice and lemon resulting in a wholly moreish long drink. So good, we had to have another.
Suitably warmed, we moved on to the champagne cocktails, mixed with Perrier-Jouet Grand Brut. The classic Kensington Champagne Cocktail merged with Calvados, sugar and sharp rhubarb bitters, while the Rose Petal combined Cointreau with lemon juice and rose syrup. Both were a surprisingly tart but welcome take on the usual over sweetened champagne cocktail. For those foolish enough to impress dry January on February, there was a very successful Seedlip Southside, combining the world’s first distilled non-alcoholic spirit with lime, sugar, juniper & apricot bitters and mint. Not gin, but delectable all the same.
For those seeking more than a liquid dinner, K Bar serves up a range of bar bites, including friend golden Cenarth Brie with cranberry sauce, Iberico ham croquettes with crispy squid and romanesco sauce, and miniature burgers.
In short, we adored K Bar – it’s an excellent new option for occasions that call for intimate surroundings and impressive drinks, with a warming ambiance that is perfectly on point to while away a winter evening in west London.
Words by Annie Biziou – Lifestyle Editor