Room service, laundry and dry cleaning, and babysitting
Breakfast not included in room rate
No on-site spa
Rooms can be small (typical of a London hotel)
Valet parking is expensive
The Ampersand Hotel is a five-pearl, 111-room Central London hotel with elegant and whimsical decor and an astounding attention to detail. Each room is designed around a theme of Victorian discovery, such as ornithology, music, or astronomy. Rooms are small (though typically sized for a city hotel), but elegantly decorated and have free Wi-Fi, bathrobes, slippers, luxury toiletries, and umbrellas for rainy-day sightseeing. Facilities include a charming tea room, an on-site restaurant and bar serving Mediterranean-inspired dishes, a 24-hour fitness area with Wi-Fi-enabled cardio equipment, and elegant themed meeting and event venues. Guests looking for another five-pearl property can try the Royal Garden Hotel, at the corner of Hyde Park -- the decor here is less whimsical, but the hotel offers more extensive fitness facilities and a small spa.
Elegant and whimsical decor with Victorian themes and astounding attention to detail
Elegant from beginning to end, The Ampersand Hotel is situated in a magnificent white-and-gray Victorian building with wrought-iron balconies, bay windows, and regal molded details. Built in 1889, it’s one of the few London properties originally constructed as a hotel, and a 2012 renovation has brought with it many modernizing elements without compromising the historic atmosphere. The theme of the hotel is “connection” (hence the ampersand) to the city of London, and each room category is a nod to the nearby museums and designed around a particular theme of discovery -- astronomy, music, ornithology, botany, or geometry.
A central staircase features an eclectic climbing light sculpture made of “flying” lightbulbs outfitted with wings, and the lobby has a sophisticated air with decorative details such as crown molding and columns, fresh marble floors, and rich black-and-white sitting areas. Hallways are just as elegant as any other spot in the hotel, with large-scale Victorian-era scientific illustrations accompanied by themed quotes decorating the walls, white wainscoting, deep turquoise accents, and sconce lighting. The hotel’s central location coupled with its elegance (and price tag) make it ideal for high-end tourists and leisure travelers as well as business guests.
In South Kensington, a five-minute walk to the Victoria and Albert Museum
The Ampersand Hotel is situated on a bustling street in the South Kensington area of Central London, and is in easy walking distance to a wealth of restaurants, cafes, shops, public transportation, and London sights. Ideal for tourists who want to explore the city, the hotel is a one-minute walk from the South Kensington London Underground (aka tube) station, which can take guests to most area attractions in under half an hour. The Ampersand is also about a five-minute walk to three of London’s major museums: the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Natural History Museum, and the Science Museum. The hotel is particularly well connected to Heathrow Airport, with a direct connection on the tube via the Piccadilly Line -- the trip takes about 45 minutes.
Sophisticated themed rooms with luxurious bathrooms
Rooms range in size and style, but all feature sophisticated decor with a touch of whimsical elegance. Decor is subtly themed around subjects of discovery, such as botany, ornithology, or astronomy, and feature light walls, neutral carpets, floor-to-ceiling curtains, and dark-wood furniture. An accent wall behind the bed shows off Victorian-inspired drawings of birds, flowers, or music notes, as well as framed black-and-white photos or art pieces. Chic details such as plush, button-tufted wingback headboards add to the elegance.
All rooms include individually controlled air-conditioning, coffee and tea service, stocked minibars (sans alcohol, but with free water, soft drinks, and milk for coffee), iPod docks, bathrobes and slippers, flat-screen TVs with on-demand movies, hairdryers, laptop safes, and even umbrellas. Chic bathrooms are black-and-white with rectangular sinks, black subway tiling, luxurious rainfall showerheads, high-end Miller Harris toiletries, and Ampersand rubber duckies. Some rooms have extra details -- themed books, Nespresso coffeemakers, or in-room bathtubs. The hotel provides twice-daily housekeeping and turndown service. Guests are generally enthusiastic about the rooms, though some complain that they are small for a hotel in this price range (though this compact size is typical of a city hotel). Ground-floor rooms don’t have much of a view, and a few guests in these rooms have mentioned a slight background rumble from the tube.
Mediterranean restaurant, charming tea room, 24-hour fitness center, and themed event rooms
The Drawing Room -- where classic afternoon tea is served along with small bites and pastries -- looks like a chic, modern, and charming salon, with couches and armchairs outfitted with throw pillows and finished with a subtly whimsical ornithological theme. A breakfast buffet is served in the Mediterranean Apero restaurant, and while breakfast is not included in the room rate, guests say it offers a satisfying selection of croissants, meats, cheeses, cappuccinos, espresso, and the like.
A small on-site gym has a selection of cardio equipment -- each with its own screen, Wi-Fi connection, and iPod dock -- as well as weight machines and free weights. The space is open 24 hours and includes towels and chilled bottled water.
In addition to free Wi-Fi, the hotel also has several meeting and event rooms for business travelers, with elegant themed decor. The Library features a wall full of books, while the Wine Room is a private dining area with chic and moody cellar-like decor. The Games Room offers whimsical appeal with details such as boardgames, cloche bell jars filled with curiosities, a turquoise chaise lounge, a dining area, and a ping-pong table (which all guests can use when the room isn’t booked). A business area off the lobby includes two Mac desktop computers, a seating area, and printer. The hotel provides 24-hour room service and a 24-hour front desk along with lots of other extras, such as assistance with travel plans or babysitting arrangements, laundry and dry cleaning service, and luggage storage. Valet parking is available, but costs a hefty extra fee.
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