Fathom contributing editor Christina Ohly has lived in London on and off for years. Now based in NYC, she recently checked in to a Victorian townhouse in London's Notting Hill that's been updated with stylish modern charm, a serious art collection, and a killer chef serving snacks behind the bar.
You may know the areas in and around London's W2, W8, and W11 post codes as Kensington and Notting HIll, but I consider them my second home. I've never been able to find anywhere (at least of a certain standard) to stay when visiting, until the recent opening of The Laslett, a chic boutique hotel spread across five gorgeous, stucco-fronted townhouses in Pembridge Gardens. Design-led touches — modernist furniture and fabrics, a curated ground-floor boutique, Samsung LED TVs, and classic British antiques and objets d'art sourced by Jerome Dodd of Les Couilles du Chien — make this unique hotel feel like a cozy home away from home.
Claims to Fame
The lobby, library, bar, and rooms are filled with art by British favorites like Barbara Hulanicki and Barry Kamen, giving the hotel a gallery feel.The Laslett is home to Henderson Bar, named after Russell Henderson, founder of the famed Notting Hill Carnival and creator of the bar's signature rum-based cocktail. Henderson Bar is also where you'll find the culinary genius of Sally Clarke on full, glorious display in her first food foray outside her eponymous restaurant. The overall design is another claim to fame: The Laslett is a collaboration between luxury specialist Living Rooms and interior design firm Waldo Works, who have peppered the rooms with cool custom finishes and contemporary furniture by UK brands like Race Studio and Pinch.
What's on Site
Henderson Bar, which serves as the breakfast room, café, and cocktail lounge, is a lovely place to savor a cup of Workshop Coffee Company's strong brew or take down an orchard (a fresh-pressed apple, lemon, and ginger concoction) with one of Sally Clarke's perfectly flaky pains au chocolat. The library's literary offerings are another bonus, as is the shop's creative mix of jewelry by Les Glorieuses, art tomes, assorted knickknacks, and Neal's Yard Remedies creams and gels.
There is no formal restaurant, but guests can order platters piled high with Neal's Yard cheeses and charcuterie and Sally Clarke's delicious baked goods and homemade muesli at breakfast. You know parents are behind this operation, as there is a dedicated children's menu offering pizzettes, toasted sandwiches, and ice cream all day. The Laslett is perfect for craft cocktails and heavy hors d'oeuvres, but neighboring restaurants like The Ledbury, Wolfe, and Pizza East are the real culinary draw.
Room with a View
The 51 rooms, including eight suites, are set across five townhouses in a soothing Scandinavian palette on the quiet, tree-lined surroundings of Pembridge Gardens. Master bedroom suites are the way to go: Several have separate living room spaces, making them ideal for families. Double bedrooms offer value for money (as the Brits say) with beautiful finishes like bespoke light fixtures by Nocturne Workshop, sumptuous textiles by Eleanor Pritchard, and a full array of Neal's Yard Remedies and plush robes for use in the state-of-the-art bathroom. Ask for a garden-facing room to capitalize on the great natural light (whenever possible) and absorb the West London neighborhood feel.
This Place is Perfect For
Local color. The Laslett is a gem for design junkies and anyone who wants to feel like they are staying at the home of a stylish, slightly boho British friend. It's perfect for lovers of good literature: Each room is outfitted with copies of Penguin classics like Mrs. Dalloway and The Canterbury Tales.
But Not So Perfect For
Anyone looking for that polished Mayfair five-star experience. The Laslett is all about stylish charm, not fine porcelain and starched linens.
Notting Hill has always been cool, but the W2 area has seen a major resurgence in popularity over the past few years due to its incredible restaurants and cafes, proximity to shops on Westbourne Grove and Ledbury Road, and beautiful parks like Kensington Gardens.
What to Do Nearby
Kids will love Diana Memorial Playground at the top of Kensington Gardens. Anglophiles of all ages should flock to Kensington Palace — Will and Kate's former abode — for tea time at Orangery. Saturday mornings are all about Portobello Market, where dedicated scavengers find all kinds of bits and bobs — antique nautical equipment, hotel silver, vintage toys — before heading to Electric Cinema for lunch and screenings of the latest films in comfy leather chairs.
Food is a major focus in this area, and Granger and Farm Girl are two of the best breakfast spots in any London post code. Book a table at Clarke's on picturesque Kensington Church Street, where Sally Clarke serves unbelievably delicious set menus of Devonshire crab, organic lamb, British and Irish cheeses, as well as trifles, tarts, and decadent chocolate tortes. Books For Cooks remains one of the best foodie bookshops on the planet, and E&O next door is still a great spot for people watching and prawn and chive dumplings.
For more shopping, head to Kensington High Street for the world's best, most civilized Whole Foods, or entertain yourself at nearby Print Room, an eclectic theatre company housed in the iconic Coronet Theatre at Notting Hill Gate.
Rates start at £275. Click here for reservations.