This pristine white town house with its columns and balconies, built in 1870, recalls an exciting era. Hilton Curio celebrates the life and times of the house’s very first owner. As the 100 Queens Gate’s credo promises this is “Where curiosity meets luxury …”
That first owner, William Alexander, represented the spirit of the Victorian Age. A successful lawyer, he was also an adventurer drawn to exploration. Globes. compasses and map-reading callipers recall Alexander’s love of travel. A framed collection of stamps from the British empire and leather-strapped trunks represent William Alexander’s world.
Like all Victorians, Alexander brought back souvenirs of his travels. Glass display cases showcase both pottery and artefacts typical of the age. Given the South Kensington location, It may not be coincidence that some of the displays have a museum feel.
Back in the Victorian day, South Kensington was the intellectual centre of the British Empire. The Victoria and Albert, Science, and Natural History museums are all just a short stroll from Queens Gate. Nor is it far to another Victorian institution. Harrods first opened its doors in 1849. Hotel guests can reflect on their purchases during a stroll through nearby Hyde Park.
Items in the hotel’s displays are an insight into the Victorian mindset. Two artificial skulls are marked with phrenological theory. Some doctors believed that you could read character and mental abilities through the size and shape of the cranium. In theory, a phrenology expert could determine how cautious, prudent or witty a person was, simply from the shape of their skull.
As this is a prime London location, Hilton Curio saw the need for some larger rooms for longer stays. In addition to over 200 rooms, there are a number of duplex suites.
With master bedrooms on the first floor, the downstairs lounge can sleep two. Ideal for grandparents taking grandchildren to London for a treat. For larger families there are connecting rooms available.
Celebrating the Best of British, the suites are named after Great Brits from Victorian times onwards: Dame Agatha Christie, AA Milne, Captain Robert Scott, Lord Robert Baden Powell, Henry James and other notables.
Our Sir Alexander Fleming suite, with books on the discoverer of penicillin on the bookshelf, has hints of Victorian decor. But a fireplace, barometer, brass coat hook and gilded mirror blend with the contemporary luxuries of a flatscreen television, coffee-maker and refrigerated mini-bar.
Hilton Curio also created Botanica, a light atrium, overhung with cherry blossom, perfect for enjoying the great British ritual of afternoon tea. Tea is taken very seriously at 100 Queens Gate. Afternoon tea guests have a choice of 10 different teas and there are also plans to introduce more tea-themed cocktails onto the bar menu in ESQ.
The extensive cocktail-menu in ESQ pays tribute to Alexander’s travels. The Dragon exemplifies the use of oriental spirits, juices and flavours. Exotically, it blends Pink Dragon tequila, lychee liqueur, egg white, agave syrup and lime juice. A library of cocktail recipe books, with glasses, shakers and stirrers is almost a shrine to the noble art of cocktail-making. Alongside the cocktails, a small plates menu also has a number of orientally themed dishes including prawn tempura, salmon tataki, chicken karaage bao buns, and green gyoza dumplings.
Sight-seeing in London can be hungry work. As well as ESQ, CENTO’s all-Italian team bring lighter tastes from northern Italy through to the more robust sun-drenched flavours from southern Italy.
Today, 100 Queens Gate, now made up of seven townhouses, captures the essence of the Victorian spirit. Yet, the hotel, with air-conditioned rooms and suites, fully meets the expectations of contemporary travellers.
100 Queens Gate fact file
For more information about rooms, booking and special events see 100 Queens Gate.
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