Brown’s, Lon­don – a Churchill-ap­proved Bri­tish in­sti­tu­tion.

GQ (Australia) - - CONTENTS -

Idon’t stay in a ho­tel – I stay at Brown’s.” Leg­end claims these to be the words of Win­ston Churchill, the wartime Bri­tish PM who was of­ten spied at Brown’s Ho­tel, gen­er­ally in the bar, bal­anc­ing cigars and drinks with heavy con­ver­sa­tions. That her­itage in­forms a key part of the ap­peal of Lon­don’s old­est ho­tel – his­tory hangs from ev­ery cor­ner of the con­verted 11 Ge­or­gian town­houses. It’s where Alexan­der Gra­ham Bell made the first ever tele­phone call, Rud­yard Ki­pling wrote The Jun­gle Book and Stephen King set up Mis­ery (sit­ting at Ki­pling’s old desk). Eigh­teen years ago, it was also the lo­ca­tion of a weekly drink for this for­mer Soho bar­man. I’d nurse a soli­tary glass on each oc­ca­sion – such was the need to stretch a cash-in-hand ‘salary’ – but it was worth it, know­ing some of those who’d done so be­fore, even if their con­ver­sa­tions went fur­ther than thoughts of hav­ing to shortly board a night bus that dou­bled as a mo­bile drunk tank. To be here to­day as a guest is to feel that same heady ex­cite­ment in an en­vi­ron­ment well re­moved from the elitism that per­vades equally no­table venues. The po­lite­ness that spills from the door­man’s pep to a re­cep­tion­ist press­ing us to try the mulled wine (the stuff’s been brew­ing in its cin­na­mony good­ness a while) gives way to a deluxe king room. The light and lengthy space has a large bed and lounge wrapped in neu­tral colours, with a bath­room big­ger than most May­fair bed­sits. A stum­ble out of the back en­trance leads to shop­ping at Dover Street Mar­ket and ACNE Stu­dios. Bond Street’s lux­ury and Sav­ile Row’s suit­ing are a minute away, as are some over­priced chut­neys at his­toric depart­ment store Fort­num & Ma­son. From there, it’s a me­an­der across Re­gent Street and into what’s now a gen­tri­fied Soho, with Palace Skate­boards a nec­es­sary fash­ion ex­cur­sion along­side hid­den vin­tage sell­ers and boxes to pe­ruse at Soul Jazz Records. While Soho, Fitzrovia, Maryle­bone and May­fair of­fer all and any­thing when it comes to din­ing (the Brits have long ago ditched the deep fryer and Wimpy in favour of fresh fare), the in­ven­tive Bri­tish menu at Brown’s in­house restau­rant, Hix, is hard to over­look. Renowned chef Mark Hix de­liv­ers sea­sonal seafood and lo­cal meats matched with an in­dul­gent wine list. From there it’s a few steps to Dono­van Bar. Aim for the ‘naughty cor­ner’ – a booth over which hang Ter­ence Dono­van pho­tos of scant­ily clad women and body parts – for a cock­tail. Might we sug­gest the Churchill Mar­tini? The tip­ple may just lead to another, some cigar chomp­ing (on the back street, thanks) and an evening of con­ver­sa­tion that likely won’t ever be quoted in print. 33 ALBEMARLE ST, MAY­FAIR, LON­DON; ROCCOFORTEHOTELS.COM/WEL­COME-BROWNS

FROM TOP Brown’s Ho­tel was opened by Lord By­ron’s but­ler in 1837; the ho­tel of­fers iphone city guides, from de­signer Paul Smith and su­per­model David Gandy; con­tem­po­rary art­work in Mark Hix’s restau­rant.

FROM TOP The sit­ting room of the Ki­pling Suite, where author Rud­yard Ki­pling is thought to have writ­ten The Jun­gle Book; a dou­ble shower and bath fea­ture in the suite’s mar­ble bath­room; the sub­tle jun­gle theme con­tin­ues in the bed­room with Lewis & Wood wall­pa­per. Rooms from ap­prox. $845 a night.

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