If you’re after a flavour of British hospitality without breaking the bank, the Lime Tree Hotel is that rare flower: an affordable family-run stopover with spot-on service just steps from Buckingham Palace, the V&A and Tate Britain. Set on the corner of stucco-fronted Ebury Street and Elizabeth Street – the so-called prettiest in London – this is pure Mary Poppins’ territory, where the queen’s horses sometimes trot. But there’s a rural twist: green-fingered owners Matthew and Charlotte have applied allotment know-how to the hotel’s lawn-covered garden, supplying their homely Buttery restaurant with ingredients for re-imagined ploughman’s lunches and classic cocktails. And, with Victoria station around the corner, you won’t need a magic umbrella to descend on this perfectly practical address.
10.30am, but flexible, subject to availability. Check-in from 2.30pm; an earlier guaranteed check-in at noon is available for £20.
Double rooms from £165.00, including tax at 5 per cent.
Rates don’t include breakfast but it’s worth forking out for the cooked-to-order dishes including Clarence Court eggs on sourdough, smashed avocado on toast, traditional English or vegetarian cooked breakfast, and Nutella French toast.
Inspired by nature’s reclamation of towns and cities during the 2020 pandemic, Charlotte is keen to invite wildlife to the hotel’s allotment-style garden. She’s installed numerous birdhouses and a handsome-looking beehive around the garden’s perimeter.
At the hotel
Private walled garden, restaurant, basement event space. In rooms: TV, free WiFi, desk, Bramley toiletries, tea- and coffee-making kit (on request).
Our favourite rooms
Rooms are spread evenly across the two townhouses, with the ‘comfy’ category on the higher floors (there’s no lift, so factor in some stair-climbing the higher you are). The twin room on the ground level makes fantastic use of the snug space and has a patio door out to the garden. All rooms exhibit Matthew and Charlotte’s magic eye for detail, such as the pitch-perfect metro tiling in bathrooms, but the generous doubles have that little more space to show it all off.
A Paddington bear-style duffle coat or brolly to pre-empt those famous London downpours (the rule is: if you bring them, it won’t rain).
There are several steps up to the entranceway and no lifts in the building. That means lots of stairs, making this hotel not very wheelchair accessible and also more challenging for some elderly visitors.
Under-fives aren’t allowed to stay; children over six can stay but this Grade II-listed building doesn’t lend itself particularly well to families.
This is a Grade II-listed building, so significant infrastructure work hasn’t been possible. However, Charlotte and Matthew use a waste company that sends nothing to landfill, they’ve phased out single-use plastic and installed super-efficient boilers. And it doesn’t get much more local than herbs and veg sourced from their garden.
For caffeinated catch-ups, seat yourself in prime people-watching position by nabbing the banquette in the corner facing Ebury Street. Or, for a more intimate affair, steal away to a secluded corner to the back of the Buttery overlooking the garden.
Relaxed, with a pashmina shawl if you’re eating in the garden in spring or autumn.
The Buttery extends from the street-side of the hotel to its garden-facing rear, a place where the soft textures of velvet and wood evoke country-kitchen calm. In defiance to its central London location, the hotel’s allotment garden has a dual role of providing gorgeously green outdoor eating and supplying plenty of fresh ingredients to the menu: courgette and mozzarella salad with chorizo dressing; the Belgravia ploughman’s lunch; the already near-legendary allotment breakfast (served until 2.30pm), starring grilled halloumi, avocado, poached or scrambled
egg, mushrooms, roasted tomatoes and baby potatoes; are just a few of the highlights.
The Lime Tree Hotel has amassed a string of regulars, drawn by its London-roasted coffee from the Gentlemen Baristas and its selection of classic cocktails (peach bellinis taste that little bit sweeter when sipped in the walled garden).
Breakfast is served between 7.30am and 11am, followed by lunch between 11.30am and 2.30pm.
Not only is the Lime Tree Hotel on an adorably London-esque street, but as a first-time visitor, it puts you conveniently within walking distance of many tourist tick-box locations, such as Buckingham Palace, the V&A, Hyde Park and Harrods.
Heathrow airport is 17 miles away – a 45-minute drive. You can take the Piccadilly line from the airport to Gloucester Road or South Kensington (a journey of around 50 minutes), and then switch to the District (green) or Circle (yellow) line for a few stops to London Victoria station.
The major underground and overground station, London Victoria, is just a couple of blocks from the hotel, with services connecting to Kent, Brighton, Gatwick Airport, Surrey and other UK destinations; King’s Cross is about 20 minutes away by Tube, with services to Leeds, Newcastle, Edinburgh and other British hubs.
Leave your car at home: the Lime Tree Hotel is perfectly located for getting around on foot or by bus, Tube or train.
Worth getting out of bed for
If you want to be ‘in amongst it’, then Lime Tree is the place to be. Within just a 25-minute walking radius you’ll come upon museums (the V&A, Natural History Museum, Science Museum), galleries (the Saatchi and Serpentine), shopping areas (Knightsbridge, home of Harrods; and Kensington High Street), and some of London’s finest greenspace (Hyde, Green, St James’ and Battersea parks). With those tourist tick-box highlights out of the way, there are lesser-known but no less thrilling delights to be found nearby, such as the apothecaries’ 350-year-old Chelsea Physic Garden. And that’s not even mentioning the chic boutiques, bars and restaurants in the hotel’s immediate Belgravia ‘hood, such as Peggy Porschen’s world-famous designer cake shop (literally across the street, so you can people-watch Instagrammers taking cake-filled selfies), and Bayley & Sage, the local deli bursting with homemade treats.
You’re spoilt for choice in Belgravia but The Thomas Cubitt on Elizabeth Street is a cherished local pub with a dash of Dickens’ wit – if you’re in the area on a Sunday, its roast dinner is one of the most show-stopping around (with some great ales and a fine wine list to boot). Wild by Tart is a slightly calmer affair set in a former power station and coal store, serving modern Brit sharing plates such as mackerel with tomato and fennel, spiced lamb and feta flatbreads, and wood-roasted peppers.
Get swept up in Carole Bamford’s passion for British produce at Daylesford Organic, one of her famous farmshop cafés.
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 stucco-fronted hotel in Belgravia and (carefully) unpacked their Peggy Porschen cupcake and Daylesford free-range eggs, a full account of their Mary Poppins-esque break will be with you. In the meantime, to whet your wanderlust, here's a quick peek inside the Lime Tree Hotel in London…
We love a good success story, especially involving an underdog or an outsider. All-round good folk Charlotte and Matthew Goodsall had no prior hotelier experience before embarking on their project to turn two Belgravia townhouses into the Lime Tree Hotel. What they’ve achieved, seemingly in the face of perceived boutique-hotel logic, is an affordable London stopover in an enviable corner of the city with bags of style channelled through the prism of their own winning personality. Their unpretentious, unfussy attention to detail shines through in their measured revamp of this Grade II-listed building, from the wry-smile-inducing artworks, clever use of pattern and texture in the rooms (the classic metro tiling in the bathrooms says it all about their less-is-more approach), and a true anomaly for this part of town: an allotment garden. Emulating rural champions such as the Pig hotels but in an urban setting is a bold mission, but Charlotte’s veg plots, herb patch and beehive supply the Buttery restaurant with plenty of fresh ingredients. Yet both Matthew and Charlotte concede that the hotel’s biggest draw is probably its location, five minutes from both London Victoria and Sloane Square stations, and within strolling distance of the V&A, Hyde Park, the Saatchi Gallery and Buckingham Palace. Being set on what’s been described as the prettiest street in London doesn’t make it any less appealing for travellers on a tighter budget and schedule looking for a taste of London – and its surrounding countryside.