Hard to believe, therefore, when you step foot into the soothing sophistication of The London Edition on Berners Street, Fitzrovia, that you’re only a stone’s throw from the hullabaloo of one of the Capital’s busiest shopping streets.
Formerly the Berners Hotel, The Edition lifestyle brand, a collaboration between Marriott and American entrepreneur and hotelier Ian Schrager who co-created the genre of boutique hotels, took over the site in 2013 and breathed new life into the historic building. Like much of central London’s towering structures, it’s rich in history, one that stretches back to the early nineteenth century when it was five grand homes which were eventually merged into a hotel in 1908.
Today it still retains that air of grandeur – in the intricate Edwardian plasterwork that curves and drapes its way around the sky high ceilings – but it’s also an ode to modernity in the chic decor that flows through its 173 rooms, restaurant, two bars, dance club and meeting rooms.
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The lobby introduces you to its style with dramatic effect, with a huge hanging stainless steel egg feature that reflects the classical columns, marble staircase, monochrome flooring, Art Deco racing green sofas and striking aristocratic-looking bar that’s so good looking it’s begging you to take a pew and order a Martini.
Room are a more Scandi-inspired affair with wood-panelled walls, warm yellow-hued lighting, faux fur throws, art works that are a modern take on Dutch Masters (ours was a contemporary twist on Girl With The Pearl Earring) and a sharp attention to detail, from the luxe toiletries in the bathroom to the freshly-made Bakewell tart that was delivered to us at bedtime.
Berners Tavern at The London Edition
Food plays a major role at The London Edition and on our first night we made our way down the sweeping white marble staircase to eat at the hotel. In an area that's an embarrassment of riches when it comes to eating out, with Covent Garden, Soho and Oxford Street on your doorstep, it’s testament to the hotel’s restaurant that eating on site is a must. Berners Tavern doffs its cap to Josias Berners who bought the land on which the hotel stands for a princely sum of £970 back in 1654.
At the helm of the restaurant is executive chef Jason Atherton, who’s earned a Michelin star at his own Pollen Street Social restaurant and has worked with the likes of Gordon Ramsay.
The restaurant is Parisian chic at its finest with imposing chandeliers, chestnut-colour leather banquettes, huge windows and every inch of the wall covered in gilt-framed artworks that give you something new to marvel at every time you look up from your menu. This is old school opulence that isn’t afraid to dazzle diners.
While the aesthetic is French, the menu is a more English-flavoured affair with options such as traditional British pork pie with English piccalilli, battered Cornish cod and aged Buccleuch Estate beef tartare.
I chose the 8oz fillet steak, grass-fed Scottish beef, served with triple-cooked chips (£38), served medium rare and buttery pink. Make sure to try the sinfully good mac and cheese side with braised beef blade (£10) which was so good we were still talking about it the day after.
The pièce de résistance of our dining experience here, however, had to be the afternoon tea, one of the prettiest I’ve had in London. Served on Saturdays from noon until 4pm and Sundays from noon until 5pm, it’s a contemporary take on the British classic.
Imaginative flair elevates the humble sandwich with versions including Loch Duarte salmon tartare, pickled cucumber, crème fraiche; sunflower and poppy seed scone, goat’s curd, apple salad and, finally, poached chicken and truffle baguette, pickled mushroom. They’re served on fine china, specially made for the hotel, with a Delft-like blue and white pattern which echoes the design of Berners Tavern’s opulent chandeliers.
The next tier is also poetry on a plate: perfectly-executed sweet treats which taste as decadent as they look. In between sips of Champagne from the Champagne trolley, you can tuck into a chocolate and sesame tart, yuzu curd; a raspberry mousse, meringue, pink peppercorn and a rhubarb and ginger macaroon, violet. If you’ve any room left, scones are served under a cloche on the top tier of this afternoon tea that’s so gloriously swish I defy anyone not to commit it to Instagram.
The London EDITION is at 10 Berners Street, W1B 3NP. Rates are from £270 per night. Until December 31, 2019, the hotel is running a Twice As Nice In The City package includes two rooms with one room discounted at 40percent off and breakfast included daily for up to four guests. Rates for both rooms from £980. For more information visit www.editionhotels.com/london
While you’re in London
If it’s food that takes your fancy on a trip to London, it’s worth heading to the V&A for one of its latest exhibitions.
FOOD: Bigger than the Plate is running at the museum until October 20 and looks at everything to do with food, from the sensory pleasure it provides to how it’s grown to questions about the ethics and sustainability of what we put on our plates.
Both artistic and insightful, the exhibition really digs deep into people’s relationship with their palate over four sections: Compost, Farming, Trading and Eating.
Pieces on show are a collaboration by artists and designers working with chefs, farmers, scientists and local communities.
Some are enlightening and some are very unexpected, such as cheese which has been cultured from human bacteria taken from people’s ears, toes and armpits. A Comté made from the nostrils and pubic hair of Heston Blumenthal certainly isn’t your average Saturday afternoon sight. (Thankfully you don’t have to eat it.)
Other curious creations include a bioplastic made from potato peelings left over from the production of McCain Chips, showing how we can be less wasteful in the production of food.
Other glimpses into a more sustainable future include GroCycle’s Urban Mushroom Farm installation which illustrates the idea of a circular economy by using waste coffee
grounds, including grounds from the V&A Benugo café, to grow edible Oyster mushrooms. Once fully grown they’ll be harvested and taken back into the café to be served in selected dishes.
• FOOD: Bigger than the Plate runs at the V&A Musuem, Cromwell Road, Knightsbridge, until October 20. Advance tickets are £17, concessions from £13.