Short break - The Bloomsbury
PUBLISHED: 00:00 14 February 2019 | UPDATED: 10:20 24 June 2019
Bloomsbury's literary past has always made good reading, but can the hotel of the same name add a fresh new chapter?
It was like a scene out of Gossip Girl - yes, I am aware of the TV show - but as my wife and I tucked into superb fish dishes, we couldn't but help nosey in on the table next to us. A group of Americans, clearly with aspirations to be in the fashion set, were being rather disparaging about the London dining scene. However, Dalloway Terrace, The Bloomsbury Hotel's on site restaurant, received a hearty thumbs up. 'The food in London isn't great,' said one, 'but that's the not case here.' Praiseworthy words indeed.
Sarcasm aside, that episode does perfectly sum up the appeal of The Bloomsbury Hotel. Venturing into London, the hotel is perfectly positioned, close to the hustle and bustle of the West End, but also tucked away on a quiet enclave to get away from the tourist hordes if you so wish (even if you can't quite avoid them completely). As the name suggests, this is also a hotel that plays up to its connections to the so called Bloomsbury Set, a group of illustrious writers who made the area their own in their heyday. There are reminders of it dotted throughout the hotel, from a Virginia Woolfe quote on the breakfast menu - 'One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well' - to portraits of said group dotted throughout the hotel. The vintage reading table in our suite was a nice touch and certainly piqued the imagination of a writer like myself.
Part of the illustrious Doyle Collection, there is nothing antiquated about the hotel itself. Right from the moment we stepped in from the cold, we experienced 21st century five star service from all staff we encountered. Our room for the night was a fifth floor suite and was all dark reds and atmospheric lighting. The real mod-con was the bathroom, featuring a marble heated floor, his and hers basin, stand-alone bath and separate shower enclosure. It smelt like a spa and it felt that way as I sunk into a deep bath and closed my eyes.
There was no time for a nap, however, as there is much to explore, both inside and out of The Bloomsbury. Thanks to its central location, you are only a few minutes stroll away from the best the West End has to offer, from theatres to restaurants - but as the evening of our stay coincided with a cold snap, we were thankful that The Bloomsbury had plenty to entertain us. Our evening began with drinks in The Coral Room, all pinks and reds and botanical delights - again it was very easy to imagine yourself in another era, sipping on a spirit whilst discussing the literary finds of the day. As it was, my wife enjoyed a non-alcoholic gin - it was Dry January after all - and I contented myself with a London lager. Whilst in Rome (or London), after all.
So back to that Gossip Girl scene and dinner in the Dalloway Terrace. As the name suggests, it's on a terrace, essentially by the main entrance to the hotel and, yes, outdoors. Luckily the heaters were on and throws were dotted around tables just in case the chill factor really did ramp up. Starters were a superlative pork belly - I'd had been happy to have had that for the main - and the Dorset crab on toast, which was generous and beautifully presented. My wife's organic salmon to follow trumped that - no pun intended considering our American guests - and showed why the Dalloway Terrace's grill menu is highly rated. My fish and chips was far too large for me to finish - I shouldn't have indulged in all the stonebaked bread to start - but if you are looking for a classic British dish done well, you'd be hard pushed to beat this.
Desserts just were not possible, particularly as we had a date in The Bloomsbury Club Bar to follow. Located on the lower ground floor, I could imagine this being a secret den filled with smoke back in the height of the Bloomsbury Set, but alas there was no lighting up here. Dimmed lights and little enclaves make this an ideal place to meet a loved one or friends for a drink, and even on a Sunday night it was full of atmosphere.
One night wasn't really enough to make the most of The Bloomsbury and its surrounding area. A quick workout in the on-site gym followed by that aforementioned breakfast and it was time to head back out into the cold. Bloomsbury as an area was always known for being a step ahead of the rest and this hotel from the Doyle Collection certainly ensures that ingenuity lives on. That's something certainly worth gossiping about.
Mark Kebble, who wrote this promotional feature, was a guest of The Bloomsbury Hotel, which is in Great Russell Street, in the heart of London's West End and close to Covent Garden. You can find out more about the hotel, which is part of The Doyle Collection, at doylecollection.com