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The perfect romantic gift? A surprise stay at Blakes, London – the world’s first boutique hotel

Blakes , London , UK
What to get a man for Christmas? It is the age old question and one especially pertinent when that man is your new boyfriend. I decided that I would go for an 'experience' rather than an 'object'. And so I turned to my sister Ellie Boulstridge, Ampersand Travel's UK specialist, who is something of an expert in all things luxurious in London and whose professional area of expertise is hotels. She suggested a couple of places, but top of her list was Blakes in South Kensington and after looking at their website it was immediately top of mine too. The rooms, individually designed by Anouska Hemple, each with something special, personal and charming about it, grand but not over the top, chic but not snobbish, looked like the perfect treat. I asked my sister to book us a night in a 'Director's Double' and awaited the week before Christmas, when my boyfriend Joe and I would arrive in London from Sydney, with impatience.
Blakes is situated on Rolland Gardens, a smart, quiet, street which twinkled with Christmas lights as we arrived. As we pulled our cases into the lobby, a wonderfully warm and spicy aroma enveloped us; the welcome we received from the GM, Julian Payne, was just as warm. I had to resist the urge to just sit in the lobby all afternoon, gazing at the beautifully decorated Christmas tree and cooing at the love birds which were tending their nest on the floor of their cage that hangs by the reception desk.
After a fine pub lunch nearby, the welcome back was even warmer than the initial one and we felt a little like royalty as we were informed that we had been upgraded, to none other than the Library Suite.

Blake 's Hotel London , Library Suite
2013-12-17 23.18.04
Trying to describe the Library Suite with words is challenging. Truffles and a hand written note from the GM and his staff awaited us on arrival and the gentleman who escorted us to the suite had to spend a good 5 minutes showing us hidden wardrobes and light switches secreted behind panels of false books and a television which rose out of the foot of the bed. There were no less than 25 pictures on the walls, the books which lined the shelves in the library were a mix of 19th and 20th century volumes of things I actually wanted to - and did - read. The bath was of the variety which leads you to the conclusion that far too little of one's life is spent in baths; it was difficult to persuade myself to get out of it. Joe said the same thing about the shower. As for the bed itself, it was so high that I could not get on to it unassisted! Once in it, there was a plethora of pillow choices, a perfectly sprung mattress and as we looked up we were lost in chocolate coloured curtains which hung in lush folds around the four posters. The short way to describe the Library Suite is a little piece of beautifully designed heaven.

As you may have guessed, I am now a total Blakes convert and I will most certainly be trying to make a stay a yearly occasion on my return from Australia for Christmas in Europe. If I lived closer, I think it might have to become far more frequent a treat! My cold was kept far at bay by the charming service and deliciously warm and beautiful surroundings. The place is definitely good for the health as well as the soul.

We finished our stay with a delicious breakfast of eggs Benedict brought to our room and ate them whilst plotting how we could return more frequently. The conclusion was, Sydney needs a Blakes and I have definitely passed the Christmas man-gift test!

Blakes , (Corfu Suite ), London , UK
Blakes , London
Blakes , Top Suite ), London , UK
Blakes , London , UK 2
Thank you to the lovely Anna Boulstridge for contributing to the Ampersand Blog! For more information about Blakes or to plan your own tailor-made holiday to England, Scotland & Ireland please contact our UK sales specialist Ellie Boulstridge at / +44 (0)20 7819 8903.