Explore the Other House South Kensington, and you might think exhibits from the Natural History Museum just down the road have escaped to hang out here. Decor is alive with flora and fauna in riotous colour: trees grow through a glazed atrium, the bars are lit by lotus- and palm-shaped chandeliers, bespoke wallpapers hide critters, and a peacock chair is in full fan. But, it’s not just a jungle out there – upstairs, perfectly proportioned apartments are set for stays of up to a year (and you’ll have your own address), and in the downstairs members’ club the wellness space hums with sound baths and shamanic chants. A come-in-and-make-yourself-comfortable space that travels far in its imagination.
Please note, the Other House is still adding some finishing touches, so some of the images shown are renders – the finished product will be revealed soon.
Double rooms from £225.00, including tax at 20 per cent.
Rates don’t usually include breakfast (£15 a person for a light breakfast, £25 a person for the full shebang).
The hotel is accessible for guests with mobility issues. Lifts go to all floors and the larger apartments are easily navigable.
At the hotel
Private club, spa, sauna, steam room, fitness centre, screening room, charged laundry service, free WiFi. In rooms: kitchen (with an oven, microwave, fridge-freezer, dishwasher, Opal coffee-maker, tea-making kit and glassware, cutlery and crockery), TV, air-conditioning.
Our favourite rooms
All rooms feel very much like your own private studio, laid out so that you enter the living room rather than the bedroom, and with a full kitchen and complement of home comforts. The two- and three- bedroom Vault rooms are ideal for families and groups, while twosomes just need to decide what view they’d like to have (atrium, picturesque Harrington Gardens). For a little more space, Club Mezz sits on two levels.
The Other Space spa’s vitality pool (open 8am to 9pm) has a Jacuzzi and acupuncture jets to make it all the more of an experience.
Be prepared to open your mind in the Other Space – a healing sanctuary that goes way beyond massages and facials (although a menu of those is forthcoming), to offer shamanic rituals, multi-textured soundscapes, cacao journeys and breathwork, so you’ll leave physically and mentally soothed. Plus, there’s a sauna, steam room and a pool with a Jacuzzi and array of jets. Wellbeing guides will take you through yoga poses, stretches and meditation sessions. The gym is a serious work-out space too, designed with competitive British track athlete Reece Bowers, which is kitted out with a Peloton bike, Assault air bike, TRX Pro 46 suspension system, Concept2 rower, Smith machine, heavy boxing bag and free weights. And other noted professionals will be conducting pop-up classes too.
Bring as much as you like (except the kitchen sink…you’ll have one of those here) – you might be here for a long time. Designed to be mini apartments, the Other House’s hideaways have a fair amount of storage for long-haulers, or those who don’t want to leave.
The Den, the hotel’s cosy cinema room, can be booked for private watching sessions.
The Club Vault apartments will sleep fulsome families; however, most of the onsite pursuits – shamanic wellness sessions, live piano in the whisky lounge, cocktails till late – are a bit more grown-up.
The Other House group are very considerate when it comes to the environment. The historic residences they reside in have undergone loving restorations, where care has been taken to preserve original features. Life-cycle assessments were carried out during the redesign process, green roofs installed to reduce the hotel’s carbon imprint, and eco-friendly British-sourced materials were used. All food in the low-waste kitchen and furnishings throughout come from within the UK too. Electricity is used over gas, and guests can download the Other House App, which doesn’t just help you to make reservations and call the lift, but also track energy consumption. Plus their private club aims to become a community hub, with talks on shared values with invited locals, and pop-up kitchens to help young chefs pushing sustainable cooking practices. Proceeds from some cocktails go towards reforestation efforts, and staff are treated very well too, offered incentives towards their physical and mental wellbeing.
In the Kitchen, we like the big banquette a whole party can squish into, and sitting under the trees in the Hogsmire atrium adds to your post spa-ing Zen. But we also like the hush hush private spaces in the Keeping Room curtained off discretely.
Homebody by day, party animal after dark.
To helm up the Other Kitchen, a café for breakfast, leisurely lunching, afternoon tea and – coming soon for members and guests only – supper clubs and pop-up dinners with celebrity chefs, the hotel has secured the youngest Michelin-starred chef in London, Asimakis Chaniotis. Alongside head chef Gary White, he’s devised changeable breakfast and lunch menus with vegan pots du jour (think leeks and roasted cauliflower with tarragon, apple and hazelnuts), soups, and sandwiches with big bold flavours, all made in a low-waste kitchen with wholly British, seasonal produce. For breakfast, the Humongous is a jaw-breaker doorstop of Cumberland sausage, Clarence Court eggs, mushrooms, bacon-and-whisky chilli jam, cheddar cheese and tomato. But there are some lighter options at lunch – say, the Herbivore with salt-and-pepper tofu, ezme and smoked vegan Applewood; or the Korean with barbecued chicken, pickled vegetables and kimchi mayo. And, the Kitchen’s a stylish, post-shopping stop too, with its tiles in all shades of green, checkerboard flooring and cosy velvet-upholstered booths.
Owl & Monkey is the hotel’s main bar, open to everyone. It’s an opulent and colourful space with some not-too-subtle nods to the natural world: a palm-frond chandelier, Chinoiserie-style bespoke wallpaper crawling with capuchins and tawnys, faux animal-print velvet upholstery, and views over the hotel’s tree-studded atrium. Curated soundtracks and DJs keep things lively, and the cocktails, conceived by bar manager Flavio Russo are equally wild in flavour – Jungle Fever is the signature with house gin, Italicus, ginger ale, chilli vinegar, cucumber juice and a spicy rim. But we also like the Night Owl with bourbon, plum and cherry coulis and bitters. In the private members’ club, the Hogsmire, which takes its name from the Gloucester Road’s mediaeval name (when it was awash with plant nurseries and market gardens) has full-size trees growing under its towering glazed atrium, and guests are welcome to find a spot beneath one for a quick drink. The Keeping Room is a bit more hush-hush, with low lighting, velvet sofas, a marble fireplace, a baby grand that often gets tinkled, and some curtained off rooms for more secluded drinks. Here, only guests and members have access to ‘the reserve list’: a leatherbound bible of limited-edition and rare wines, champagnes and spirits. And, if you can’t quite finish that bottle of whisky (or whichever poison you pick) in one session, you can keep it in a locked cubby for the next.
Breakfast runs from 7am to 10am, lunch from 12 noon to 3pm.
In-room dining operates on a click-and-collect basis; choose from the menu on the hotel’s app, and when it’s ready you can pick it up from the Other Kitchen.
The Other House sits in a row of handsome 19th-century townhouses, along ritzy Harrington Gardens. It’s just a short stroll from the V&A, Natural History and Science museums, and a little further along is Hyde Park.
Heathrow is easily the closest airport, just a 30-minute drive away. While London City, Gatwick and Luton are around an hour’s journey and Stansted is the furthest at 90 minutes.
If you fly into Gatwick, ride the express train to Victoria Station, which is just two Tube stops from South Kensington or three to Gloucester Road, both within a 10-minute walk of the hotel. The Heathrow Express arrives at Paddington, from which you can ride the Circle line to either Tube stop. You’ll have easy access to the Circle, District and Piccadilly lines for zipping all over London.
Some of the well-heeled residents in Kensington might be privy to a parking spot, but they’ve likely paid handsomely for the privilege. And, you will too if you insist on driving – the closest car park at Chelsea Cloisters costs £52 for 24 hours. Really, this rarefied part of London with its genteel townhouses, dainty mews, and charming boutiques is best explored on foot.
Worth getting out of bed for
South Kensington isn't just one of London’s most Mary Poppins-esque neighbourhoods – it’s also a learning experience, with the Science and Natural History museums very close to the hotel, the spectacular craftsmanship on display in the Victoria & Albert, and in a Brutalist building in between, the Royal Geographical Society, which hosts talks and exhibitions. Hyde Park isn’t just a top-notch picnicking spot; pedalo around the Serpentine Lake, muse over thought-provoking pieces in the twin Serpentine Galleries, and then head over to the west side for a tour of Kensington Palace, which many actual royals call home. Holland Park is smaller, but is worth a visit for its dainty Japan-inspired Kyoto garden and open-air auditorium where a three-month summer opera programme is held. And on its south edge is the Design Museum, which covers all aspects of aesthetics, from sneakers to furnishings to fashion. If that puts you in an acquisitive mood, well you’re in the right place – some of London’s finest shopping is all around you. Harrods and Harvey Nichols megastores, the labels and indies along the King’s Road, Sloane Square’s big-deal boutiques and more will lighten your wallet and weigh down your suitcase. While in Chelsea tour the Saatchi Gallery and pick up some apothecary knowledge at the Chelsea Physic Garden. If you’ve arrived in May, the streets and Royal Hospital will be in bloom as the Flower Show springs up (keep your eyes peeled for the famous red-coat-sporting Chelsea pensioners too). Dopamine Land is also a riot of colour with sparkly, rainbow installations said to spark joy (or at least provide an engaging Insta backdrop); and a little more authentic is Leighton House, once owned by Frederic Leighton, a member of the pre-Raphaelite brotherhood, and his creative flair is visible throughout in the intricate detail and Moorish stylings. There’s more Eastern promise in Japan House too, which also has a store and restaurant. Then, continue your cultural foray into the evening with a show at the Royal Albert Hall, a film at the French Institute’s Ciné Lumiere, or live music at the historic Troubadour in nearby Earl’s Court.
Look around you – the elegant centuries-old townhouses, the erudite boutiques, the Hugh Grant speech inflections: dining here tends to be on the ‘pound, pound, pound’ metric, but with meals that easily match that in quality and experience. Ceru has earnt an impressive reputation for its Middle Eastern-Mediterranean fusion fare. Flavours go hard in dishes such as the five-hour slow-roasted lamb shoulder with a 12-spice-blend rub, pomegranate sauce, mint and pistachio; sticky roasted aubergines with tamarind and sesame; or ginger and coconut cream profiteroles in a date syrup. Claude Bosi at Bibendum is set in the spectacular art deco Michelin House, formerly home to the tire company and gourmet guide, set with colourful stained glasses. Food is elegantly Gallic, with garlicky, lemony frog’s legs; Brittany rabbit with Scottish langoustine and tarragon; and a double-chocolate soufflé. Daphne’s – a ‘local’ if you live in Chelsea – has an upmarket menu of Italian favourites with a special truffle menu when in season. And, Brindisa, on Exhibition Road, is a more affordable option, serving their famous chorizo, rocket and piquillo peppers on toast; and goat’s cheese with orange blossom honey and beetroot crisps, alongside temptingly authentic tapas.
Just around the corner from the hotel is Fait Maison, which you’ll recognise for the several weddings’ worth of flowers coating the front. You can have the usual cream tea here, but we recommend trying the Turkish delights on offer – say the brownie topped with Turkish cotton candy or the coconut sponge spread with pistachio. The breakfast menu has some very tasty picks too, such as the simit bread topped with labneh, a poached egg, chilli sauce and za’atar. And, Guillam Coffee House is a laidback space with a serious coffee addiction, showcasing speciality blends from all over the world.
The Kensington Hotel’s K Bar has a Mad Men-esque appeal – one could imagine having either a swish business meeting or hush-hush affair in its wood-panelled, velvet-upholstered, chandelier-hung environs. Order up a Brown Derby (bourbon, grapefruit juice, honey and maple syrup), or the classic Champagne Cocktail (cognac, brown sugar, Angostura bitters, orange zest and Perrier Jouët Grand Brut), and sip suavely. Meanwhile, Janet’s Bar, set in a townhouse on Old Brompton Road, has a rather different vibe. Packed with memorabilia tied to no specific theme or date, and serving toothache-sweet cocktails, it’s where the suit jackets come off and ties get loosened – and the star of it all, Janet herself, is as welcoming a landlady as you could hope for.
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 cache of colourful pied-à-terres in west London and unpacked their Harrods hamper and King’s Road finds, a full account of their hibernatory break will be with you. In the meantime, to whet your wanderlust, here's a quick peek inside the Other House in South Kensington…
South Kensington might not be known for its wild rumpuses, but opulent aparthotel the Other House invites creatures of all kinds to play. The decor is rampantly colourful and nods to nature in all its forms: trees grow to full size, flocks of origami swans swoop overhead and flamingoes welcome you in a central atrium; the lobby has wreaths of vines meandering over the ceiling, bee-emblazoned cushions, ceramic critters and a fully fanned peacock chair; and the Owl & Monkey bar mixes golden palm fronds with leopard print and jungly bespoke wallpaper. Plus the cocktails coo, chirrup and squawk with offbeat flavourings. It may not be a shy-retirer, but if you are you’ll find your niche here. In the members’ and guests only club, the Other Space spa holds soothing shamanic ceremonies, breathwork sessions and sound-bathing; the Keeping Room is a low-lit space for piano recitals and reserve spirits; and the Den is a cosy-as-can-be cinema room Plus, the apartments – ranging from intimate to expansive – feel perfectly private, ideal for staying longer than you intended. You’ll have your very own address while staying, and an app (in the works) will let you summon a lift and housekeeping, let you order food, book a table, see when the fitness centre is quiet and even monitor your energy usage. Both lulling and lively, this is a rare beast of a London stay.
You’ll also find The Other House South Kensington in: