The Royal Horseguards Hotel in London exudes British charm. The building – despite being based on a French Chateau – feels every bit the quintessential English hotel. Staff are polished and attentive, and the decor is luxurious yet understated. Rooms feel refined, with sumptuous beds and high ceilings. It’s the perfect location for a home away from home or mini-break in the capital. Situated in the well-heeled and central, yet quiet area of Westminster, the hotel looks out over the Thames. There is a beautiful terrace from which afternoon tea or late night cocktails are backdropped by the river’s elegance.
The hotel was built in 1884 and is now a grade II listed building, housing the five star hotel, which has 282 rooms. Great for history buffs, the Royal Horseguards Hotel once served as headquarters for the British Secret Services (MI5 and MI6) and numerous meetings and discussions between influential politicians, statesmen and diplomats have taken place within these walls. It’s said that Winston Churchill and others used secret tunnels within the building; what’s more, MI5 always used to send correspondence from the hotel in green ink (which they still use to this day), and all the hotel’s stationery reflects this green theme to celebrate.
The Forbes Travel Guide Recommended hotel is beautiful both outside and inside and is frequently used as a filming location. It has featured in several high-profile films, such The Constant Gardener, Bond films Octopussy and Skyfall, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Part 2), and TV programmes Mr Selfridge, Downton Abbey, The Honourable Woman and Spooks to name a few.
This year, the hotel teamed up with a range of celebrities including Kate Moss, Florence Welch, Ricky Wilson, Boy George and Mary Berry to auction Christmas gifts personally donated from each, enclosed in a signed bauble. All the proceeds are being donated to the three charities; Kidscape, Rays Of Sunshine and British Triathlon Foundation Trust.
The stay began with a warm greeting at the door, and a brief tour of the hotel’s history – everyone was attentive and personal. The Christmas decorations created a charming atmosphere and the hotel’s bar was the perfect setting for a negroni before heading out to supper. The room was luxurious with sweeping river views (and not to mention a television above the bath), creating the perfect excuse for an early rise to make the most of a winter sunrise through the curtains followed by a sumptuous breakfast on the terrace.
Rooms from £265 www.theroyalhorseguards.com.
Words by Harry Seymour