Be bowled over by Dorset Square Hotel: the tastefully cricket-enamoured townhouse is perched on the edge of a leafy square in one of London’s most central and exclusive enclaves. Part of Firmdale Hotels, owner-designer Kit Kemp has thrown out plenty of knowing nods to the square’s past as the original Lord’s cricket ground. The bats and balls pop up pleasingly around the hotel, without overwhelming the bold patterns and coloured textiles that have long delighted Firmdale fans.
Double rooms from £257.25, including tax at 5 per cent.
Rates usually exclude breakfast; a Full English option is available for £25.
Take afternoon tea in the Potting Shed – the restaurant serves a sumptuous spread of dainty sandwiches, decadent cakes and scones, high-quality teas and glasses of champagne. Make your reservation early: tea gets fully booked quickly.
At the hotel
Library; free WiFi throughout. In rooms: flatscreen TV, radio, minibar and Kit Kemp's range of Rik Rak bath products.
Our favourite rooms
The smart, grey Marylebone Room caught our eye: the 35sq m space has a generously sized living room with well-stocked bookcases. You can lounge in the king-size bed and survey Marylebone’s Gloucester Road below through the window, and pull out the sofa bed in the living room if you’ve got an extra guest. The comfortable Garden View Luxury Rooms have similarly updated traditional English decor, and plenty of natural light.
Chic sunglasses… and your nicest umbrella. Marylebone’s packed with smart shops and restaurants ideal for exploring on foot, so be prepared for the unpredictable weather.
Two ground-floor rooms are adapted to be fully wheelchair accessible.
Welcome. The hotel can arrange babysitting, and provides a children’s menu, library of children’s books, small bathrobes, highchairs, and cots (free for children two and under) or extra beds (£50 a night) in parents' rooms.
Grab a booth under an alcove beyond the bar if you’re seeking seclusion.
The restaurant’s an intimate room so you needn’t pull out your gladdest rags, but Mrs Smiths won’t go wrong with a smart pair of heels at dinner.
The Potting Shed, tucked away in the townhouse’s basement, serves updated versions of traditional English dishes, from Potting Shed Fish Pie to grilled West Country lamb cutlets. Despite its subterranean location, it gets plenty of natural light during the day – if you pop in for coffee, make sure to sample one of the exceptionally rich chocolate cookies with your latte.
Sip your cocktails downstairs at the Potting Shed: the open-plan restaurant has a well-equipped bar. There’s also a self-service honesty bar in the drawing room.
The Potting Shed lays out its breakfast buffet at 7am, and the last drinks are poured at 11pm. Food is served until 10.30pm.
Have anything from the restaurant’s menu delivered to your room, 24 hours a day.
The clue’s in the name: Dorset Square Hotel sits elegantly on the edge of Dorset Square, a leafy corner of upmarket Marylebone. It’s an unbeatably central part of town, ideal for shopping, dining and sightseeing.
The nearest airport is Heathrow, 18 miles away, although Gatwick, Stansted or City airports are just as accessible.
The closest station is Marylebone, about two minutes from the hotel. It’s part of the London Underground network, on the Bakerloo line; it’s also served by Chiltern Railways trains to Birmingham.
Central London traffic can be awful, but cabs are plentiful and can easily be hailed in the surrounding streets.
Worth getting out of bed for
Dorset Square – the actual square, not the hotel – was the original home of the prestigiousLord’s Cricket Ground: catch a match at the 'new' (since 1814) location less than a mile away at St John’s Wood. If it’s sunny, head to a green space such as Regent's Park. If your wallet’s bulging, make your way to Mount Street, considered by many as the most exclusive shopping street in London. Refuel with oysters at Scott's Restaurant and Bar on Mount Street, then browse the Balenciaga shop or try on some red-soled stunners at Christian Louboutin. Leaf through the rare books at Bernard Shapero at 32 George Street, followed by lunch at media hangout, Cecconi's, at 5 Burlington Gardens. Take a lunchtime tour of the Royal Academy of Art Fine Rooms, or pop into one of their temporary shows; its famous Summer Exhibition showcases around 1,200 works by established and unknown artists, sculptors and architects. Hyde Park is also close by.
Make a beeline to the Dorchester for some fine dining at a British institution. You can pick from several options: the Promenade for afternoon tea, the Grill for British classics, Alain Ducasse for some fancy French and China Tang for Chinese food and celebrity spotting. The Squareis Philip Howard’s two-Michelin-starred restaurant. Expect modern French cuisine, a sleek contemporary setting and sophisticated service. Umu sources the ingredients for its Kyoto cuisine from Japan, and has a tasting menu and a selection of sushi and sashimi. Sophisticated fine dining and stylish service are on the menu at Marcus Wareing at the Berkeley. Patara, right below the apartments on Maddox Street, is a fantastic option for excellent Thai cuisine.
Stake out one of the lipstick-red seats at Claridge’s Bar on Brook Street. This glamorous spot is pure luxury from top-to-toe, with cocktails served in crystal glasses and a dinner-defying array of late-night nibbles, including sushi, sashimi, truffle risotto and even fish 'n' chips.
I am allergic to cricket. I’ve had marriages that have lasted less time than a test match. Cricket is the tantric sex of sport, but all you get is a sticky wicket…. Which is why I had to be dragged kicking and screaming to the cricket-themed Dorset Square Hotel. Dorset Square, just off London’s Baker Street, is the site of Thomas Lord’s first cricket ground. This little patch of parkland is where the first balls were googlied, diamond ducked, dibbly dobblied and double hat-tricked (you can see what an expert I am.) This means that for most men it’s not just a mere patch of green, but a shrine.
The Dorset Square Hotel is a row of interlaced terrace houses facing onto this hallowed ground. Echoing the cricketing theme, the bedroom door handles are halved leather cricket balls and the walls are lined with cricketing memorabilia, both original and bespoke artistic creations. It’s all very tongue-in-chic… And – against all my cricket-phobic expectations – it is totally charming.
A luxurious, intimate boutique escape in the heart of London by award-winning style guru Kit Kemp. Here she has waved her magic designer wand to create an idiosyncratic tapestry of textures, colours and styles that harmonise the antique and the contemporary. The 38 individually designed bedrooms, many of which look onto the leafy private garden, could be the style equivalent of putting oysters with custard. But, instead, all gels to aesthetic satisfaction.
To kick off the romantic mood, we were welcomed with a glass of champagne at the bar. Which led to two, then three… Before long we were thinker than you drunk we are. The Potting Shed bar and restaurant are open all day and offer a tasty and varied menu, with a skylight opening up onto the pedestrians and buses buzzing by down Baker Street. The breakfast is so delicious, staff should put speed bumps in the dining room to slow down progress to the buffet table.
London hotels have in the past provided me with service with a snarl. Coupled with some third-degree sarcasm, their ethos seems to be that the guest is always wrong. But the young, enthusiastic staff at Dorset Square are smilingly efficient and totally friendly at all times.
The other great thing about the hotel is its location on the edge of Regents Park. To me ‘working out’ is something you do on the back of an envelope. After all, there is growing medical evidence that exercising can make you hot and sweaty. Of course the hardest thing about exercising is trying not to let your wine spill. (The only aspect of cricket I do like is that it’s the one sport that builds in meal breaks.) But if you are a gym junkie, Dorset Square Hotel not only has access to a nearby fitness centre but is also situated right beside London’s most beautiful oasis of flowery tranquility. The only thing I run up are bills, but the park is so lovely, it did tempt me out for a few trots.
The only snag for space lovers is that some of the rooms are not that big. Our deluxe was fine but if you’re an American Footballer say, don’t expect to get in a standard room without covering yourself in lubricant. Then again, if you’re here for a Mr & Mrs Smith break – the closer the better, right? And it’s incredibly inexpensive for London, especially with its granite and glass bathrooms and heated towel rails.
If you are planning to head DSH for romance, the only other trouble is that there are so many fabulous distractions. On our first outing, we popped around the corner to the Sherlock Holmes Museum for a little light detecting. This was followed by a stroll down Marylebone High Street, pausing for the scrumptious modern tapas at Providores, the award-laden New Zealand-run restaurant. Next stop, the Wallace Collection. This astounding museum with its world-famous range of decorative arts is home to one of Europe’s finest collections of works of art, paintings, furniture, arms and armour and porcelain. It was bequeathed to the nation and is completely free. You can’t pass by without popping in to see some Titians, Rembrandts and best of all, The Laughing Cavalier by Hals.
Then it was onto Selfridges, a shrine for retail lovers, I spent a few hours here worshipping. Believe me anyone who says money doesn’t buy happiness, just doesn’t know where to shop. Oxford Street is full of fabulous bargains but my favourite destination is St Christopher’s Place, a cobbled courtyard away from the traffic fumes, lined with quaint designer boutiques. If you’re in the mood to pluck your highbrows, it’s only a short stroll through Mayfair to Piccadilly for more art at the Royal Academy. Or to Hyde Park to watch the cavalry prancing about in full regalia. We even took a saunter through Regents Park on our second day to the more kooky environs of Camden. The punks, performers and modern-day pirates of Camden Lock give new meaning to walking on the wild side.
After a frenzied day in the bustling city, sinking into an acreage of soft bedding, I heard a satisfied sigh escape my lips. I felt as thought I’d just reached the next level of Ashtanga yoga meditation, and all without having to knit my own aura. The Dorset Square Hotel is a true sanctuary in the heart of a busy metropolis. I’m still not converted to cricket but the hotel not only bowled me over, it offered many innings and fabulous outings.