I’ve lived in London for over a decade and I thought I knew the place. But no matter how familiar it becomes, there’s always an unexpected discovery to be made. Durrants Hotel is one of them.
Durrants (along with the Goring) is one of the last few remaining family-owned hotels in London. Off Marylebone High Street, it’s just a stone’s throw from bustling Oxford Street - not that you’d believe it. As soon as you’re ushered through the porch, you find yourself in what appears to be a country house lifted lock, stock and barrel from the home counties. The staff are waistcoated, the carpet is thick and the mood relaxed. I can’t imagine any business traveller greeting this place with anything other than delight.
What’s most refreshing about this 92-bedroomed, four-starred hotel is that it lacks any of the anonymous traits common to most banal but expensive chains. There’s no faux-Scandinavian design here; no plastic-coated menus in the restaurant. Instead, there’s an air of smart civility, oak-panelling and old leather sofas.This Georgian townhouse, which became a hotel in 1790, is under the management of the Miller family, and they should be congratulated for the elegant and stylish haven they have created. I spent the night in a refurbished double room, complete with handmade Savoir bed, bed linen by Peter Reed (who also supplies the Queen’s sheets) and an antique chest of drawers. But the mod cons were present too: flatscreen TV, broadband and trouser press all included. My room was quiet and overlooked a smart mews.
What really makes this place is the attention to detail. There are framed old hotel bills hanging in the corridors, and downstairs in the Spy Lounge are framed watercolours of English spies with intriguing titles: ‘The Dasher’, ‘Arnold’ and ‘The Literary Mate’. In fact, considering the hotel’s proximity to Baker Street, you honestly wouldn’t be surprised if Holmes or Watson strode through the front door. Americans would love this place.
The ground floor George Bar has wi-fi, but spending your time on your laptop would be a waste here. Better instead to sit back and enjoy a drink in this relaxing snug. There’s no music and no irritations and lone travellers will feel quite comfortable wiling away a few hours before supper.
The Grill Room restaurant, which is currently being refurbished, is of the traditional variety, complete with linen tablecloths and silver cutlery. The menu isn’t cutting edge but the food is good, as is the wine list. Starters hover around the £8.50 mark, main courses at £18 and desserts at £6. I had the steamed asparagus, a delicious roast rack of lamb and poached pear tartlet. Breakfast, served in the same room, is a civilised delight. The friendly service couldn’t be faulted.
Some might think Durrants slightly old-fashioned but there are no olde worlde imitations here. If you’re after a delightful stay for business that’s just 10 minutes from St Pancras, then you’d do well to book here. In addition, the hotel also offers five rooms for meetings, round tables and conferences for up to 46 people, and like the rest of the hotel, they are swish enough to impress even the toughest client.
A single costs £155 and a double or twin room costs £225 a night. Continental breakfast costs £11.50. Daily room hire from £450.
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Business Travel Special: Durrants Hotel, London