If you thought you had Belgravia all figured out, well, think again. The area, not rarely reduced to a cross between heritage and bling, is at last seeing a partial makeover that’s made space for a more understated, cultural type of luxury hospitality than your typical Knightsbridge grande dame tends to offer. At the forefront of this less showy (though luxurious as ever) Belgravia is The Hari, a five-star bolthole hidden away on Chesham Place.
We can think of many reasons for a spontaneous stay in Knightsbridge, though when we checked into The Hari, it had less to do with the neighbourhood itself, and more with all the exciting goings-on currently happening at the hotel: for one, The Hari have just launched their very own brand of Gin in partnership with their Hong Kong sister hotel. A warm, spiced take on traditional London Dry, it’s already won big at this year’s World Gin Awards, and having tried it in a ‘Haritini’ available from the hotel bar, we’re not surprised in the slightest (those with a penchant for fine wines, instead, might want to visit when the property’s Garden Terrace is transformed into a St. Tropez beach bar in collaboration with Château Minuty – oh, la la!).
But the 2016-opened address being a spirited hideaway beyond the actual spirits, there is plenty more to discover. And The Hari entices guests to explore: when we entered the building, we felt a bit as though we’d walked into an art collector’s private West London mansion, with camel-coloured surfaces, exposed brick, contemporary art and the occasional, retro-inspired piece of furniture culminating in a sense of homeliness. The lobby, less imposing than what you might expect to find in this part of town, is a place to feel at ease in, and we immediately felt drawn towards an upstairs library, stocked with many a book donated by those who have stayed here before.
You’re likely to meet other guests here, too, their heads buried in a coffee table book or a laptop, sipping on a cocktail from the adjoining Hari Bar. On the whole, this part of the hotel has a vibe not dissimilar to that of a hip co-working space; except cookie-cutter office chairs have made way for statement armchairs and a menu of snacks and nibbles is decidedly nicer than your average WeWork Deliveroo. This more modern take on hospitality also extends to The Hari’s 85 rooms, including 14 suites and a penthouse. Our Studio King Corner Suite on one of the top floors amazingly featured not one, but two prints by artists we personally adore – Tracey Emin and fashion photographer Mario Testino.
Right on time
LHR / LCY
While you’re Out There
If you’re looking for a slice of ‘old but overlooked London’, walk through the heavy wooden doors of the nearby Brompton Oratory, a neo-classical Grade II* listed church that would rank among the capital’s top cultural attractions if it wasn’t for even more famous churches in the city centre. Those with an appreciation of all things cinema – or horror – will delight in walking down the same aisle Alfred Hitchcock and screenwriter Alma Reville walked down during their wedding here in 1926.
While not the most spacious London suite we’ve stayed in, our accommodation was equipped with all we could ask for, and made clever use of the vitrine-like glass booths protruding from the hotel’s facade: one of ours was fitted with a desk space ideal for those emails that can’t wait, another featured a comfortable couch and the third was home to a rather luxurious marble bathtub offering views over Chesham Place Garden. At night, we could even see glimpses of a bright pink London Eye in the distance… What’s not to love? When you’re not just looking out the window, expect to find a harmonious blend of wooden floors, warm lights and chocolatey colours, courtesy of interior designers Tara Bernerd & Partners. It all adds up to a rather contemporary but cosy space – think designer pad, not White Cube gallery – with a sleek bathroom offering views to get lost in (that said, we would recommend lowering the blinds when you first get in the tub!).
The Hari feeling very much like a bolthole, within easy walking distance to both Knightsbridge as well as Sloane Square, yet shielded from the area’s hustle and bustle, you’re conveniently out the front door within a minute of exiting your room. There’s no walking down endless corridors and it’d be hard to get lost in this intimate hotel. Although if you ever you do, you’d be well advised to follow your nose to the property’s Il Pampero restaurant, where feel-good but sophisticated Italian fare is served alongside award-winning wines the sommelier takes great pleasure in telling you all about. We dined on delicious cavatelli with chicory sauce, crispy Jerusalem artichoke and mint here, followed by chargrilled radicchio and rhubarb and coconut panna cotta. As vegans, we can’t tell you how much we appreciate original, plant-based Italian cuisine (what’s more, presentation of each dish was just gorgeous).
It was only at breakfast that we thought more veggie options would offer greater variety during longer stays, although if you really can’t do another scrambled tofu, we’re sure kitchen staff would be happy to conjure up something off-menu. Aside from culinary delights, Il Pampero in our humble opinion is also the most beautiful part of The Hari. Vespa-green lacquered walls adorned with rather out there, black-and-white photographs, geometric floor tiles, bulbous lampshades and circular booths ideal for an intimate dinner – it’s an appealing mix between classy and quirky; reflective of just what makes this inspired address stand out in what’s probably London’s most glamorous neighbourhood. Who knew Belgravia could be this fun!