Blakes. London

The lowdown If hotels are all about escapism, then you can’t really top a stay at Blakes. Walking into the reception instantly whisks you from smart residential South Ken to the old colonial orient, with deep red-painted walls, varnished bamboo fittings, artfully battered trunks and golden cages of exotic birds, which chirrup at you in welcome. The effect is so mesmeric, you can feel yourself unwinding before you’ve even been handed your room key. Little wonder the hotel counts Gwyneth Paltrow as a fan, who likes to commute down  from her North London home for a romantic nights with Chris.

The rooms No identikit furniture here - each sumptuously-decorated room is an exciting microcosm of its own: from the sexy Parisian Double with its large grey marble bath and intricate swan bed to the breezy Corfu Suite with its gossamer draped four-poster bed, delicate carved furniture and white-painted wooden floor.  We were treated to a stay in room No 209, the opulent Bierdemeir Suite, bedecked in antique prints and mirrors and with its own adjoining sitting room (in case you need extra space to spread out) where we found a bottle of champagne on ice awaiting our arrival. Pure luxury.      

The food If, like me, you’re a fan of Asian cuisine, then the menu in the atmospheric basement restaurant will tick all the right boxes. We shared a giant spicy soufflé to start - so light it practically evaporates as you eat it - followed with beef fillet teriyaki and hot sake. If you have room for pudding, then the green tea ice cream is also highly recommended. Breakfast is an equally decadent affair, with plenty of delicious cooked options served on gold-edged plates, while you browse the morning papers and delay the inevitable check out. Because trust us, you won’t want to leave.  

The details Blakes, 33 Roland Gardens, London SW7 3PF, tel: +44 (0)20 7370 6701. Doubles available from £245 + VAT room only. Visit

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By Lucy Pavia