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

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

Client Testimonials

I had a very lovely time and was looked after splendidly. My first visit to India could not have been better, save for being longer! But I shall return at some point and I shall look to you to make the arrangements.
- Matthew Nicklin, North India
So many highlights to choose from! The hotels were amazing but Maya Villa was a highlight… I loved just hanging out in the hammock reading my book and watching the peacocks chase the cows!
- Krista Weir, Sri Lanka
I would recommend Ampersand without any hesitation!!! The best travel agent that I’ve ever had. Everything – from the individual care and attention in planning the trip, through to the efficiency of the agents on the ground in India – was handled brilliantly. An absolutely first-class service all round!
- Matthew Annable, Rajasthan, India
Ampersand’s preparation, attention to detail and interaction before and during our trip show exactly why good travel agents have a role in today’s internet booking age. They were a delight to deal with!
- Mr David Wallace, North India
Ampersand provided a bespoke and flexible holiday, tailored to my every whim. Their highly professional staff had only one goal which was to arrange an exceptional holiday and some unforgettable experiences in India. I have no hesitation in fully recommending them and they will be the first company I approach in the future - 10/10
- Anonymous, India
We had a wonderful holiday - everything was perfect. Thank you for helping us to make a thoughtful plan to enjoy and make most out of our trip. The places we visited, the guides, the transportation and driver, the hotels selected... Everything was great!
- Jaime Benitez, South India
Everything you did for us whilst we were away was hugely appreciated, and Ampersand has been exemplary in every way. I'll always recommend you!
- Mr Richard Stoughton, Sri Lanka
Difficult to articulate just how good the service from you and your team really was. We know you will continue to do well and hope we have the chance to seek your assistance again before long.
- Mr & Mrs Manson, North India
I thought the Ampersand team was outstanding. We couldn’t have hoped for anything more.
- Mr Geoffrey Johnson, India
Without question, you put together the best trip I have ever taken. We were shown around like visiting dignitaries, the hotels were fantastic and the itinerary was just right. Everybody I know will hear about how amazing Ampersand is!
- Leslie Siben, India

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