REVIEW: The Cadogan, A Belmond Hotel, London
Tempus checks in for a night of luxury in the stylish heart of West London
As the travel ban continues and it seems impossible to be able to secure a reservation in the countryside, there is a question to answer as to why we’re not enjoying the incredible hotels London has to offer for a much needed escape. And so in order to inject some excitement back into what has been a disastrous 18 months - and in the pursuit of luxury and indulgence - I decided to pay a visit to The Cadogan on Sloane Street.
If one were to choose a location for a luxury hotel then you’d be hard pushed to find a better starting point; positioned on the junction of London's three most affluent neighbourhoods of Chelsea, Knightsbridge and Belgravia. Housed in a stunning Georgian mansion overlooking the private Cadogan Palace Gardens, this hotel certainly seems to hold all the necessary ingredients for an opulent city break.
Like so much of London, the hotel is steeped in history, having been the home of Edward VII’s mistress Lillie Langtry (her private entrance still remains) and was the location of the arrest of Oscar Wilde in 1895.
When Wilde was arrested in Room 118 on the 6th April of that year, he was found sprawled on the chaise longue enjoying his favourite tipple - a glass of Perrier Jouët Champagne. When he was imprisoned, he had to ask ‘a friend’ to clear his ‘PJ’ bill. Hence, Perrier Jouët has become synonymous with The Cadogan.
It is a bizarre and wonderful experience to finally be back in a hotel, even if it is practically on my doorstep. Upon walking into the foyer, I am transported head first into the heyday of the Swinging Sixties, with both the interior and the exuberant uniforms of the staff fashioned perfectly to match.
Over the last four years, The Cadogan has undergone extensive redmodeling to the interior of the hotel, overseen by Russel Sage, a design studio who have overseen some of the most iconic hotel and restaurant developments in Europe. Here, the brand has curated the perfect balance between classic British charm and modern elegance, with some Soho-esque debauchery thrown in for good measure.
All suites in the hotel are individually designed and furnished and include the crucial amenities one would expect from a hotel of this stature; a king size bed, marble bathroom with standalone tub, a separate living area and a rainfall shower, with each providing delightful views over west London.
Then comes the exciting stuff; a television in the bath, the most gorgeous vintage minibar cabinet imaginable, a fully stocked nespresso machine, luxury bath amenities, fresh handmade chocolates made in-house by the chocolatier and complimentary access to the sleep concierge.
The sleep concierge is a brand new service in partnership with esteemed Harley Street hypnotherapist and sleep expert, Malminder Gill. The experience includes a sleep-inducing meditative recording, a pillow menu with a choice of luxurious pillows (including anti-aging and anti-snoring), a bed-time tea developed by The Cadogan and a scented pillow mist to make sure one gets the best possible night’s sleep.
The sumptuous suites, the incredible location, the extravagant decor and dedicated guest services aside, The Cadogan is famed for its restaurant and bar, our next destination.
After sampling two exquisite cocktails on the terrace overlooking the private gardens and watching the world drift by along Sloane Street, it was time to sample the delights of the genius mind of celebrated chef Adam Handling.
Fresh from cooking for the G8 leaders and Her Majesty The Queen earlier this year - and having just been named GQ’s Restaurateur of the year - I was excited for what lay in store. Sadly we arrived too late in the day to sample his award winning afternoon tea, which is inspired by his childhood memories of plentiful feeding at his grandma's house. However, upon entering the original dining room which marries classic architecture with an open kitchen, I knew that we were still set for something spectacular.
We were lucky enough to be sat on the chef's table overlooking the open kitchen, and hence had the perfect spot from which to gawk at the staff working their magic. The à la carte menu is thing of beauty and changes on a monthly basis, bringing seasonal and sustainably sourced ingredients to the table and using them as a showcase for reimagined British classics which have been elevated by Adam’s trademark innovative flair.
After devouring Adam’s chicken butter with deep-fried chicken skin accompanied by a medley of freshly baked breads from the hotel’s bakery, it was on to starters. I happened to be enjoying a delicious bottle of Barbera d’Alba as we placed our orders, and to me it made perfect sense to pair it with the beef tartare, crispy shallot and oyster.
For this dish, filet mignon is freshly minced into a tartare which formed the foundation of an exquisite dish which, once married with fried shallot rings and an oyster emulsion, only needed a confit egg yolk on top to round off an exceptional dish.
It was one thing to have that evening's head chef, Enrique Garcia de Olalla, cook mere metres from us - to then to have him personally serve each of our dishes and take us through his process and each of the ingredients was otherworldly.
Although greatly tempted by the lamb, courgette, basil and goats curd, my dining partner convinced me to try the chicken, morels and asparagus.
I'm glad that she convinced me; it was truly a thing of beauty. The chicken was presented to us in a pot of hay before being taken back into the kitchen to be divvied up. The breast, wrapped in chicken mousse was stunning but the real stars of the show were the morels which provided such a rich and earthy flavour which was balanced out superbly by the slightly sweetened sauce.
The dish is served with a side of chicken thighs and wings that have been slowly cooked in stock and also stuffed with chicken mousse and topped with a crispy skin. Seasonal asparagus, a delicate potato pave and a side of roast cauliflower with kimchi mayo elevated the dish even further.
Having spent hours admiring Enrique and his chefs whip up a storm in the kitchen, it was soon time to retire to our suite to enjoy one of the most luxurious baths I have ever experienced, before sinking into the fresh linen sheets and drifting away.
As the sunshine rose over the private gardens outside our window we started the day in the only way possible; with a breakfast in bed that more than lived up to the culinary standards set by the team the night before. I opted for the Burford Brown scrambled eggs with smoked salmon, served alongside a stunning cabinet of drawers which were filled with an assortment of freshly baked patisseries. It was heaven.
As I walked back down Sloane Street towards Sloane Square and back to the realities of daily life, I couldn’t help but feel that anyone living in this this wonderful city should treat themselves to a staycation break more often, and if there were one place to go to switch off from the outside world, there is nowhere finer than The Cadogan.
Rooms start from £556 per night (Belmond.com). Our Chelsea Your Way includes luxury accommodation, daily English breakfast, picnic in the private Cadogan Place Gardens, access to tennis courts, private shopping, out-of-hours access to Chelsea Physic Garden and Wander Art (supplements apply for spa treatments, tennis lessons, luxury boat trip, private Wander Art tour).