The Laslett boutique hotel embodies the same sense of community spirit and creativity as its namesake, Rhaune Laslett (founder of the Notting Hill Carnival). British brands such as Waldo Works architects, and Pinch and Race Furniture have shaped the modish interiors, and the involvement of local heroes – Biba founder-cum-artist Barbara Hulanicki, who's supplied some of the eye-catching wall candy, and Jerome Dodd of Golborne Road’s Les Couilles du Chien antique shop – ensure a true sense of place.
11am. Earliest check-in, 3pm. Early arrivals can store their luggage then relax in the library or coffee shop.
Double rooms from £149.25, including tax at 5 per cent.
A la carte breakfast options are not included in the room rate.
Need a superlative souvenir? Cast an eye over the jewellery, prêt-à-porter pieces from Les Glorieuses, Couverture & the Garbstore's No Chemicals perfume, oils and candles, and Mrs Miller stockings for sale in the ground-floor boutique.
At the hotel
Library, coffee shop, lounge, boutique, concierge, free WiFi throughout. In rooms: Samsung LED TV with Sky channels, a stack of classic Penguin novels, a ‘big bar’ (with full-size bottles, some snacks and London guides), desk and full-size REN bath products.
Our favourite rooms
With walls studded with Barbara Hulanicki and Barry Kamen artwork, and antique objets d’art dotted throughout, the Master Bedroom Suites are larger than your average London hotel room. Some have a day-bed, semi-separate living room (or second bedroom) or dining room, and a metro-tiled bathroom with a generous bath tub and walk-in shower.
In-room beauty treatments can be arranged and must be booked in advance. Otherwise the concierge can contact one of the many stylish spas nearby. Day passes are available for a local gym (five minutes walk from the hotel), too.
Your Kindle can stay on your bedside table; old-school escapism is covered with a stack of Penguin classics (Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales, HG Wells’ War of the Worlds) and more esoteric reads (Nancy Mitford’s The Pursuit of Love), in each room. The library by reception has a curated collection of British art and design books too.
Public areas are wheelchair accessible; there’s a ramp entrance at 10 Pembridge Gardens. A Master Bedroom Double and Double room on the lower ground floor (with lift access) and a Double on the ground floor are adapted for guests with mobility issues.
There are no activities or baby kit, but each floor is bookended with large interconnecting rooms, and there’s a dedicated kids’ menu with pasta, veggie dippers, toasties, mini pizzas, brownies and ice cream; highchairs are available too.
The Henderson’s seasonal, organic, fair-trade and locally sourced ingredients tick all eco-friendly boxes.
Lunch in the peaceful library, or get cosy on a banquette in the Henderson Bar.
A touch carnivalesque. Mrs Smith should invest in one of the chic Les Glorieuses pieces sold in the boutique; Mr Smith could emulate a dandyish Congolese sapeur.
There’s no formal dining room here; the Henderson Bar moonlights as a breakfast room, café and cocktail bar throughout the day, but guests can order at the reception’s food bar and retire to the library, lounge or their room to dine. A buffet of muesli granola and freshly baked pastries and hot dishes – avocado, chilli and lime on sourdough, scrambled eggs with smoked salmon – will tempt you to untangle yourself from the sheets each morning. The Henderson bar has an array of small to slightly-less-small plates from pâté and sausage rolls to smoked-chicken salad and shepherd's pie.
The Henderson Bar is named after renowned Trinidadian musician Russell ‘Russ’ Henderson, and it’s a well-earned honour: he concocted its rum-laced signature cocktail. These are shaken and stirred alongside a raft of high-end bar snacks (roasted almonds, olives and cheese straws) to accompany the au fait wine and cocktail list.
Breakfast is served from 7am to 10am. A seasonal menu of small plates is available all day, and guests can spend as long as they like in the bar.
A breakfast tray laden with cereals, pastries and breads, a natural yoghurt, coffee, tea and cold-pressed juice can be brought to your room. Otherwise take your pick from the rotating lunch, dinner and light bites menu, available 24 hours a day.
The hotel sits in Pembridge Gardens, a genteel street lined with Victorian townhouses, just a short hop from Portobello Road and Notting Hill Gate’s restaurants, bars and shops.
From Gatwick Airport (www.gatwickairport.com), hop on the express train to Victoria, then ride the circle line to Notting Hill Gate Tube station. The Heathrow Express (www.heathrowexpress.com) arrives at Paddington, two stops away on the District or Circle lines. A taxi will take about 30 minutes from Heathrow or an hour from Gatwick.
Notting Hill Gate Tube station is just around the corner. The District, Circle and Central lines pass through, so all corners of London are within reach.
London’s Tube system may befuddle first-timers, but it’s less bewildering than navigating the traffic-swollen streets. If you must drive, there are Avis car-hire booths at both airports, but there’s no parking at the hotel. Guests can leave their car at the Q-Park on Queensway (www.q-park.co.uk), a 10-minute walk away, for £26 a day.
Worth getting out of bed for
Notting Hill’s legendary gatherings and offbeat boutiques will coax you from your lie-in. The district is coloured in brighter strokes than the eponymous Richard Curtis film; grand dame townhouses have a lick of carnival-coloured paint, and petite gardens and characterful old-school pubs punctuate meandering streets. Westbourne Grove and Ledbury Road are lined with petite cafés and high-street wonders such as Anya Hindmarch, Smythson and famed designer-label den Matches, interspersed with independent institutions. It’s touristy and trashy in parts, but Portobello Market’s stalls are still worth rummaging through for antique doohickeys, hand-made wearables, toys and trinkets; and you can weave in and out of designer boutiques, vintage shops and one-off pop-ups. With corsetry from What Katy Did, Sixties-inspired mens’ tailoring at Adam of London and cute-as-a-button kids’ wear from Sasti: the Portobello Green Arcade peddles serious designer wares. TheElectric Cinemahas super-comfortable leather armchairs, and theatre company the Print Room has taken over historic cinema the Coronet. William and Kate’s gaff, Kensington Palace, is a 10-minute walk away, flanked by pretty gardens – stop for afternoon tea in the Orangery, then roam through Kensington High Street. On August bank holiday each year, the streets become a flurry of feathers and sequins as the Notting Hill Carnival’s parades kick off street parties till late.
The Laslett’s delectable dining falls just shy of a three-course offering, but Notting Hill’s restaurant scene revels in the area’s diversity and artisan goodies. If you're enamoured of the hotel's breakfast offering, Sally Clarke's restaurant, Clarke's, is a 10-minute walk away, serving hearty Brit fare. Expect high-quality ingredients such as barrel-aged feta and Devonshire crab, but leave room for fruity galettes, summery sorbets and rich chocolate desserts. Upmarket eatery The Ledbury has a lobster and pheasant-laced tasting menu by talented chef Brett Graham. Close by, London’s only Danish restaurant, Snaps + Rye, elevates humble smørrebrød (open sandwiches) to artistic heights. Its weekend brunch is crowd drawing, the liquorice ice-cream palate-cleansing and the Fish Friday four-course set menu is a super Scandi feast. Orasay's dishes are influenced by the isles of the Hebrides, with a focus on fish; the menu is awash with meaty catches and rich velvetty sauces – be sure to leave room for the brown-bread ice-cream. Core by Clare Smyth does sustainable dining in elegant style, with classic and seasonal tasting menus with dishes such as Isle of Mull scallop tartare in sea-vegetable consommé, steamed Cornish crab with caviar and pear and verbena sorbet.
Egg Break, on Uxbridge Street, is a quirky eatery where all dishes contain – well, you guessed it. Dishes such as buns filled with a fried egg, pork belly and sriracha mayonnaise keep the humble ingredient on its toes. Similarly themed, albeit more diverse, Farm Girl, on Portobello Road, has a tempting brunch and light-lunch menu.
Trailer Happiness is a perennial favourite for its spirited cocktail list (tiki drinks are a speciality) and kitschy throwback decor. On the other end of the spectrum, the Elgin pub's beautifully restored Victorian interiors make it a cut-above boozer for sinking a few pints in. If you're trying to be virtuous, Redemption Bar is famous for its alcohol- and hangover-free libations.
It’s not often one gets to stay in a hotel in your own city, but a ‘staycation’ was in store for us as we ventured across London from east to west. Once we’d popped back up above ground from Notting Hill tube station, the five townhouses that have been merged effortlessly into the Laslett hotel were only a literal stone’s throw away.
Once beyond the grand Victorian facade, we were immediately greeted by smiles from the receptionist and the beaming enthusiasm of the manager. He showed us to our room, a Master Double on the top floor. After a quick once-round of what’s what, he was gone, leaving us to flop after our, er, terribly exhausting journey.
We undertook our usual arrival rituals, principally checking the comfort of the bed and the squish of the pillows and a quick scan of the bathroom products. The super-king-size bed met with our approval, tempting me into a pre-dinner slumber while Mrs Smith languished in the bath with various Neal’s Yard delights to hand.
Once I managed to reopen my eyes, they darted around the room scanning the decor (when you work in the design industry, it’s hard to turn it off). This is a place that has sidestepped the urge to be ‘hip’ and ‘on trend’, favouring instead a style that you might call ‘classic contemporary’. Opting for a muted colour palette of various shades of grey (I couldn’t count fifty), the result is calming and decidedly non-confrontational. A few choice items of 20th-century British furniture grace the room, and colour is injected through various artworks by local artists adorning the walls.
After a quick spruce up, we were ready for a drink at the small bar downstairs; our twin glasses of champagne and assortment of nuts, olives, and so on provided welcome sustenance for the evening ahead. We flirted with the idea of dining in, but a quick glance at the menu suggested a rather casual affair – great if you’re exhausted or dining alone – but we used it as a stepping stone to explore the eateries nearby.
There’s something rather romantic about strolling the back streets of Notting Hill, voyeuristically glancing through the windows of grand homes. We snaked through to Portobello Road about five minutes away and settled on the cosy French-American cuisine of Electric Diner, which was buzzing but not hectic on a Sunday night.
With that end-of-the-weekend feeling, we headed back to the hotel and skipped the nightcap; an early night beckoned. It was then that the true extent of the bed’s comfort became apparent as I tried and failed to read. Despite the steps-from-the-station location, it was surprisingly quiet – we both had a sound night’s sleep.
Mrs Smith was up and out early, heading to work on a bright Monday morning; the hotel’s staff fixed her a quick breakfast for her as she made her way out into the bustle of rush hour. I, on the other hand, chose to languish a little longer in bed, being one of those self-employed ‘I can work anywhere with my laptop’ types, so I enjoyed the morning sun pouring into the room before getting up and heading to breakfast. I’m seldom firing on all cylinders first thing and often struggle with too-much-choice syndrome at a breakfast buffet but, thankfully, here the display was pleasingly minimal but had everything I might want – fruit, yoghurt, muesli, pastries and cooked dishes, all made from British-sourced ingredients of good quality.
Satisfied, I continued with my day, taking in a walk of the area and some of its shops, which are decidedly upmarket with an emphasis on fashion. It has to be said, in the bright sunshine, the local architecture comes alive – the painted white facades gleaming against the blue sky while others are awash with vivid colours. The area might have undergone major gentrification since the scruffy bohemian days when the Notting Hill Festival was started by Rhaune Laslett (after whom the hotel was named) but there’s no denying its inherent beauty today.
I strolled back to the hotel in the afternoon and perched in the library by the lobby to attempt some work. Shortly after, Mrs Smith rejoined me and we repeated our drink/snack ritual before heading out for dinner at a friend’s nearby.
Later on, flopping back into bed for our last night, we reflected. Here is a place that feels smart yet personal, is comfortable in scale, homely and calming in atmosphere, and offers everything a traveller is looking for without the fanfare and embellishment found elsewhere. Most importantly, the service is first class: personable but professional. Perhaps we should staycation more often…