NOT many hotels in London can claim such a literary pedigree.
The Kingsley Thistle in Bloomsbury – at the heart of London’s romantic writers and poets quarter – was once home to none other than EM Forster, author of A Room With A View – which he part-wrote while in residence – among other greats works.
Indeed, the hotel is named after Charles Kingsley, creator of Westward Ho! and The Water Babies.
After a recent £10m refurbishment, however, it is the hotel itself that is finding a place in the capital’s book of stylish places to stay in the heart of London’s bustling West End.
Actually, The Kingsley is well placed for a variety of attractions, not just the theatre – many of which are located in nearby Drury Lane and Covent Garden.
Just a two-minute walk from the fantastic British Museum, and minutes from the shopping districts of Five Dials and surrounding areas, The Kingsley should be written into the guide books as the most perfect place to set up base if you intend to make the most of your stay in London.
Bloomsbury is fascinating in itself, of course. The area’s history abounds with literary giants and a walk through adjacent streets finds blue plaques on almost every wall.
If you are not in too much of a rush you can tarry in nearby Bloomsbury Square – just a minute’s walk from the hotel – and watch the Bloomsbury set, still very much in evidence about their business.
But whether it is the thrill of the hunt in nearby shops, preparing for a matinee at the theatre, or a determined attempt to see everything at the British Museum, the hotel provides a sanctuary just steps away where batteries can be re-charged, energy replenished, and fuel supplies topped up.
Our stay include a theatre visit which meant once we had settled into our lovely rooms – small sitting room plus walk-in wardrobe, bedroom and large spacious bathroom with rain-forest shower – it was down to the Kingsley Two Brasserie for an early supper before curtain up. It was an effort to drag ourselves away from the flatscreen TVs (two) and for me to leave behind my comfy white robe, but plans were plans.
The menu was fun, unfussy, but with a few surprises.
I chose the baked sea bass with chorizo sausage and the Miss M, who was accompanying me on the visit, the noodles with chicken. The service was actually great fun with the staff paying particular interest in what show we were to see and how we were to spend the rest of our time in the city. There were tips and advice, a few laughs, and our meal arrived in plenty of time. It was beautifully presented and tasted wonderful.
After the show we wound our way back to the hotel’s refurbished bar and lounge with its inviting sofas and friendly atmosphere. We weren’t alone.
Quite a few folks were enjoying the flavour of the late evening. It was obviously one of the places in Bloomsbury to be seen.
The following morning, after a very restful night’s sleep, there was no hurry for breakfast which was served until ten. How civilised. It was also delicious – brilliant sausages, the Miss M and I agreed.
“Could we leave check out for an extra hour?” (it is usually a very generous midday anyway). No problem.
“And could we leave our bags and pick them up later?” “And maps and directions for the day’s adventures?”
No problem at all.
In fact our whole stay had been problem-free. And as the bustle of central London – even Bloomsbury – enveloped us and we set off on our adventures we decided that a stay at The Kingsley would be inked into our schedule again fairly soon. Make a note of it.