The walls at Kettner’s Townhouse don’t talk; rather they tap you on the shoulder gleefully and whisper ‘did you hear…’. Opened in 1867 by Napoleon III’s private chef as London’s first French restaurant, its cuisine, champagne bar and conviviality attracted the likes of Oscar Wilde, Winston Churchill, Agatha Christie and other VIPs. But it had a delicious scandalous streak too, with saucy goings-on upstairs (even the king was at it). Now, the Soho House group have gramophone-cranked up its bygone decadence: champagne flows, boudoirs have been beautified, and suggestive artworks inspired by past mischiefs give those walls plenty to gossip about.
Please note, if you are not a Soho House member, to access this members-only property a 12-month Soho Friends membership will be added to your booking for £100. This membership covers one room a stay for the member and any additional rooms booked for their children under 18.
Noon, but flexible, subject to availability on the day. Earliest check-in, 3pm.
Double rooms from £265.00, including tax at 20 per cent.
Rates don’t include breakfast.
A Soho Friends membership (which will be added to non-member room rates for an additional £100) is a global membership that gives you access to Soho House bedrooms, plus benefits at spas, restaurants, Cowshed, Studios and Soho Home. Please note, Soho Friends membership does not give you direct access to the Club, and only covers the room booked and any additional rooms for children under 18; additional rooms booked for guests aged 18 and over will be charged the membership fee for each room. If you have purchased a Soho Friends membership through Mr & Mrs Smith within the past year, please call our travel team directly to book your Soho Friends member rates. Please note, existing Soho House members should book directly through Soho House as Mr & Mrs Smith cannot offer their membership discount.
At the hotel
Seating area, free WiFi, free wash-and-fold service. In rooms: Flatscreen TV with Apple TV, Bluetooth Marshall speaker, Roberts radio, minibar with pre-mixed signature cocktails, coffee-maker with Grind capsules, tea-making kit, homemade biscuits, hair-straighteners, full-size Cowshed and Soho Skin products.
Our favourite rooms
There was much speculation about what went on behind closed doors in the cabinets particuliers (very private dining rooms), which are now Kettner’s bedrooms. Check in for the night and there’s no need to play voyeur, because you’ll have your own seductively secretive love nest, dressed in turn-of-the-century finery: William Morris-print wallpapers, scalloped or padded velvet headboards, fringed vintage furnishings, vanities, and some antique rolltop bath tubs steps from the bed. For a quickie stay, the Tiny Plus is more budget-friendly, cosy as can be and has its own furnished private terrace. And for more serious affairs of the heart, the Jacobean Suite (which was almost converted into SH’s signature cinema) is fit for a king (and his mistress), with its original wood-panelling and stucco ceiling, canopied bed and copper bath tub – plus spacious living and dining areas to allow for yet more frivolous fun.
Spa spoiling is the only indulgence Kettner’s doesn’t offer, but they have partnered with Gymbox in Covent Garden, which isn’t your average work-out space, offering DJs, classes from gentle yoga to beast-mode HIIT, and funky neon lighting.
Pack a steamer trunk full of glittery vintage pieces and sharp tailoring.
Even in this group of heritage houses, there are rooms suited for guests with mobility issues.
Heavens, think of the children… The hotel may not be quite as naughty as it was when kings and actresses and other louche sorts cavorted here, but it’s still for over-18s only.
It’s reassuring to know that Soho House are working to deliver an environmental impact strategy across their sites. With 2030 goals set to enhance and standardise recycling programmes and responsible food-waste management at every outpost of the member’s club globally. They also work with local suppliers selected for their like-minded responsibility. In the kitchen, there’s scrutiny around how Soho House sources coffee, cocoa and palm oil, as well as sustainable seafood and responsibly reared meat. Expect greater choice of meat-free dishes and seasonal ingredients whenever practical. Measures to assess Soho House’s carbon footprint and reduce emissions are ongoing.
The champagne bar’s statement circular marble-topped bar is one for sending sly winks over and fizzy enough that you may well find a noted character sat beside you.
Give ‘em the old razzle-dazzle in the champagne bar; otherwise Soho House’s usual cool-cat garb.
Auguste Kettner (the private chef of Napoleon III), was the first to serve French food in a London restaurant when he opened Kettner’s in 1867, which it became famous for before it was better known for more insalubrious tastes. And, the hotel spent a shorter stint as a Pizza Express too. However, currently the hotel have teamed up with Stoke Newington’s the Clarence Tavern, offering a menu finessed enough to fit the dining room – opulently restored and dressed with heritage mirrors, floral plasterwork, velvet cocktail chairs and chandeliers that we don’t dare swing on – yet not overly fanciful. Plates are largely Mediterranean, made with seasonal British produce, with garlicky gambas, pig-cheek croquettes dipped in anchovy mayonnaise, hispi-cabbage-and-caraway fritters with paprika and burnt lemon, and convivial and comforting sharing plates, such as slow-cooked lamb with Dauphinoise potatoes, or chicken, leek and bacon pie.
In many ways, stepping through Kettner’s door feels like time travel, and Twenties decadence and hush-hush gaiety are most keenly felt in the champagne bar, a space of sparkling drinks and conversation, with an original sugar-cube mosaic floor, rosewood and mahogany furnishings, intricate stuccos and silky pleat-effect wallpaper. Spend a frivolous evening downing flutes, then retire to the long marble vinyl bar for DJ sets (towards the end of the week) and tête-à-têtes.
Breakfast runs from 7.30am till noon, Monday to Saturday and from 8am on Sundays. The all-day menu then runs till midnight.
Have breakfast in bed when you order during restaurant hours. The all-day menu can be enjoyed in-room till 11pm from Monday to Wednesday, 1am Thursday to Saturday and 10pm on Sundays.
Kettner’s Townhouse is a revamped society haunt in elegant 19th-century buildings on the corner of Romilly and Greek streets. Set in up-for-anything Soho, it’s well placed for Covent Garden, Piccadilly Circus, Trafalgar Square and ritzy Mayfair.
Of London’s main airports, Heathrow is the closest, just an hour’s drive away, or a 50-minute ride on the Elizabeth Line. Stansted and Luton are just over an hour’s drive and Gatwick is 90 minutes away. On request, the hotel can help arrange transfers.
Euston is the closest overground station, at 10 minutes’ cab ride away. However, for Eurostar arrivals, St Pancras International is a 20-minute cab ride or a quick change on the Northern Line via Euston to reach Tottenham Court Road Tube station, about a five-minute walk from the hotel.
One does not simply drive through central London – it’s a frustrating exercise at the best of times, but Soho’s labyrinth of narrow streets ups the difficulty level. Buses and the Tube will get you wherever you want to go. However, if wheels are a deal-breaker, there’s a Q-Park about two minutes’ walk away in Chinatown.
Worth getting out of bed for
To be the talk of the town, you have to be in an eligible position, and Kettner’s Townhouse has a first-class seat, burrowed into Soho. Lovers of drama will find it especially appealing for its easy access to the boards, big or small, of Theatreland: the grand dames of Shaftesbury Avenue; musicals, fringe pieces and ballet and music at the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden; and big-ticket shows along the Strand. And keep culture-loading with an amble down to Trafalgar Square to roam the National Gallery and National Portrait Gallery; a wayward tour of the galleries surrounding Regent’s Street (Sadie Coles, Maddox, Hauser & Wirth, Stephen Friedman, Halcyon and the Photographer’s Gallery). You might be surprised to stumble across Notre Dame de France beside the Prince Charles Cinema (a must for cult communal movie-watching), and while it’s quite a departure from its French brethren, there are some striking Jean Cocteau murals within. Due north, the British Museum is a trove of historic treasures, and lean into more niche interests at the Cartoon or London Transport museums (the latter’s gift shop has some surprisingly covetable goods). Plunder the luxury goods of Regent’s, Bond and New Bond streets’ designer shops, take a lingering look in Liberty, and dig for vintage finds along Neal Street, stopping into primary-hued Neal’s Yard for some Instagramming, cheese sampling, all-natural skincare buys and vegetarian snacks. Pick up something strummable in Denmark Street’s guitar shops, and learn a little about Soho’s sleazy and scintillating past. See where poet William Blake was born on Broadwick Street, swing by what was once the Colony Room Club on Dean Street (where Francis Bacon used to drink) and Au Chat Noir on Old Compton Street (where Quentin Crisp touted for business), and spy the ‘This is not a brothel, there are no prostitutes at this address’ sign on Sebastian Horsley’s former residence along Meard Street, but keep in mind it gets stolen from time to time, showing the neighbourhood hasn’t quite lost its spunk. And then finish your night in one of two ways, with serious jazz and blues at Ronnie Scott’s, or pop and glitter at G-A-Y.
How many restaurants are there in Soho? How long is a roll of receipts? The selection is dazzling, so we’ll start with what’s next door – Berenjak serves Persian cuisine in a beautiful space with gilded tiles, banquettes wrapped in rug-style patterns, and niches filled with greenery. Our recommendation, load up on fresh-from-the-tandoor flatbreads and dips with the likes of coal-cooked aubergine with walnuts mint and onion; or yoghurt with cucumber, mint and green raisins, then get stuck into a kebab, perhaps one with chilli and garlic poussin in a red-pepper paste, or one stuffed with mangal-grilled liver and sweetbreads. Kiln is also an advocate of smoked meats, but with more Thai influence, serving cull yaw and cumin skewers, clams in a soothing herb-y broth, various kinds of Laap sausage, and glass noodles with pork belly and crab meat cooked in a clay pot. And Ducksoup, just a few steps from the hotel, is a natural wine bar with a weekly changing European menu that might include squid-ink fettuccine with bottarga, lemon and chilli; duck with quince, pumpkin and pistachio; or rice pudding with persimmon jam. And Quo Vadis is another legendary heritage eatery (younger than Kettner’s, being founded in 1926), where eating is a joy from the start (bites of cod roe, polenta and sage) to main (roast pheasant with bacon, orange, fennel and almond), to finish (mincemeat, chocolate and marmalade tart).
Just across the road from the hotel is Maison Bertaux, a pâtisserie and tea room that’s almost as old as Kettner’s (founded in 1871 by a Communard fleeing France). Pop in for an éclair, loaded fruit tart, marzipan fancies and freshly baked croissants. And get some pep in your step at the Soho Grind, a tiny, always packed place for very good reason: top-tier brews, and later in the day God-tier espresso martinis.
Jubilant crowds, honking tuk-tuks, splashy lights: Soho’s late-night scene can be disorienting after some pre-gaming. Don’t let it wash you down to the O’Neill’s on Wardour Street – just down the road from the hotel is the French House, a longstanding institution frequented by bohemians and a buzzy spot to get started. Knock back some of the wines from the blackboard, then head over to Seven Dials, for some more top Gallic picks at Le Beaujolais – if at this point you decide you don’t need a tie, feel free to throw it over the rafters which the others punters have left behind. The Coach and Horses isn’t fancy and gets crowded on weekends, but its history as a journalistic haunt warrants a pint pit stop. Disrepute is very much up our alley with a curvaceous retro look (lots of mirrors, velvet and low coloured lighting). Its repute is actually quite safe, due to drinks such as L’Appuntamento, with peach liqueur, Aperol, orange blossom and prosecco; and a sophisticated crowd.
Every hotel featured is visited personally by members of our team, given the Smith seal of approval, and then anonymously reviewed. As soon as our reviewers have returned from this den of historic naughtiness in Soho and unpacked their tarts from Maison Bertaux and and their unmentionables from Agent Provocateur, a full account of their gaily spent break will be with you. In the meantime, to whet your wanderlust, here's a quick peek inside Kettner’s Townhouse in central London…
You don’t have to be having an affair with a famous actress to feel like royalty at Kettner’s Townhouse; days start in dreamily soft – often emperor-sized – beds, after which Soho’s thoroughly entertaining chaos sucks you in, before an evening spent in a champagne-fuelled fugue state. Yes, King Edward VII and actress Lillie Langtry did carry on in the cabinets particuliers (now a brace of belle boudoirs) upstairs, but the 19th-century French restaurant (the first of its kind in London) had mighty pulling power for writers (Agatha Christie, Oscar Wilde), politicians (Sir Winston Churchill), and other starry sorts (Bing Crosby, Robert De Niro), making it a society favourite for years. And now the Soho House group has dusted off the floral plasterwork and heritage mirrors, moved in marble-topped bars and velvet furnishings, polished the rosewood and mahogany and restored the spiral staircase that led to all kinds of naughtiness. It has a rip-roaring Twenties feel, while keeping the exclusive clubby tone, and there may be a touch less scandal-making these days (or if there is it doesn’t go beyond the ‘do not disturb’ sign), but blush-inducing artworks on the wall show that it’s still a bit of a rogue character.