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The Gainsborough Hotel 2.5

South Kensington, London, England

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Review Summary

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  • Historic hotel on pretty residential block in South Kensington 
  • Excellent location near sights and public transportation
  • Charming Victorian breakfast room with elegant furnishings
  • Bathrooms are stocked with Woods of Windsor products; some have heated towel racks
  • On-site restaurant with all-day menu that's short but well-rounded
  • Cozy lobby living room with fireplace, high-back leather chairs, and bar
  • 24-hour room service
  • Free Wi-Fi throughout 


  • Signs of wear in rooms like scratched furniture and stained carpet
  • Room decor is outdated and bathrooms have old fixtures
  • Double rooms have two twin beds pushed together
  • Fee for breakfast
  • No on-site parking

Bottom Line

This historic property has a great South Kensington location and sweet details that could potentially make for a pleasant, affordable stay -- if its rooms were given a major refresh. The two-and-a-half-pearl hotel occupies a classic Victorian row house and has lovely period furnishings in public spaces. Rooms have large flat-screen TVs, free Wi-Fi, electric kettles, cheerful neighborhood views, and Woods of Windsor bath products, but furniture and textiles are seriously worn. There's no on-site parking, but the hotel has an on-site restaurant with a charming breakfast room, 24-hour room service, and a small bar next to an attractive marble fireplace in the lobby living room. Those looking for comparable area accommodations may wish to consider Aster House, an adorable, well-priced bed-and-breakfast that consistently receives high marks from guests.  

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Attractive lobby with traditional furnishings and a cozy living room with a fireplace 

The 48-room Gainsborough Hotel's historic, elegant, oh-so-English row house makes a delightful first impression. Its entrance has flower pots and planters, a stately wrought-iron gate, and double doors with shiny brass hardware. The reception area has traditional period furnishings but suitcases lined up against the back wall make the area appear messy. To the right is a formal living room that has a marble fireplace with hardcover books leaning up against its mantle and an ornate gilded mirror above. There's a set of tufted, high-back red leather armchairs facing inward and a formal seating area in the center that has four fabric-covered slipper chairs arranged around low, petite circular tables. The charming breakfast room to the left of the lobby is done in fine Victorian decor that has just the right amount of opulence without being overdone. A large bay window is strikingly dressed in mustard yellow jacquard drapes edged with jet-black fringe. Flanking a center aisle and lining walls of the rectangular room are two rows of tables, each topped with a single long stem flower. Attractive chairs covered in black and cream stripes stand neatly on either side, and gallery walls present an eye-pleasing mix of prints in decorative wood frames. Guests of The Gainsborough Hotel tend to be tourists seeking easy access to London's sights. 


Perfectly situated in South Kensington near sights, public transportation, and restaurants

The West End location of The Gainsborough Hotel makes an easy homebase for sightseeing around London, with public transit nearby. It's less than a five-minute walk to two tube stations -- South Kensington and Gloucester Road are on the Piccadilly, Circle, and District lines. The hotel is also close to a bevy of restaurants and museums.

  • Five-minute walk to two tube stations (South Kensington and Gloucester Road)
  • 15 minutes to Piccadilly Circus via tube
  • 16 minutes to Westminster Abbey via tube
  • 20 minutes to Buckingham Palace via tube
  • 21 minutes to London Eye via tube
  • 21 minutes to Trafalgar Square via tube
  • 25 minutes to British Museum via tube
  • 27 minutes to St. Paul's Cathedral via tube
  • 29 minutes to Shakespeare's Globe Theatre via tube
  • 30 minutes to Tate Modern via tube
  • 31 minutes to Tower of London via tube
  • 25-minute drive to Heathrow Airport (more with traffic)


Overdue for a major refresh, but offering free Wi-Fi, neighborhood views, and Woods of Windsor toiletries

The most significant drawback of The Gainsborough Hotel is that rooms are in dire need of a refresh. Traditional dark wood furniture is heavily scratched and low-pile carpeting is aged and stained. Drapes in elegant Victorian jacquard fabrics appear faded as do bedspreads and dust ruffles. Wallpaper in simple, neutral prints is peeling and ecru paint covering closets, doors, and molding is chipped. There are mini three-arm chandeliers hanging in the center of ceilings and small shaded lamps atop nightstands. But during the day there's plenty of light as rooms have floor-to-ceiling windows and look out to cheerful views of the neighborhood's old brick rooftops.  

However, there's free Wi-Fi, coffee and tea supplies and electric kettles, and lovely china cups and saucers, safes, desks, and large flat-screen TVs. Bathrooms are done in shades of peach and beige; some have pedestal sinks and old-fashioned toilets with wooden seats and wall-mounted tanks. All are stocked with Woods of Windsor bergamot-scented products in bottles with darling labels. Stall showers have chipped tile and discolored grout, tarnished fixtures, and calcified showerheads. 

Larger rooms have an extra medallion-back chair, mirrors above desks, more spacious wardrobes, and bathrooms with modern toilets, bathtubs, and heated towel racks. Guests should note that double rooms have two twin beds pushed together. 


Restaurant with Victorian breakfast room, 24-hour room service, and free Wi-Fi throughout 

There's a fee attached to breakfast, but The Gainsborough Hotel offers a solid continental spread in a pretty Victorian setting. It's served on the hinged shelf of a massive hutch with china behind pained glass doors. No hot items are on the menu but breads and pastries are plentiful and there's a substantial selection of delicious jams. 

The hotel has free Wi-Fi throughout, 24-hour room service, and an on-site restaurant offering an all-day menu with standards such as fish and chips, burgers, pasta, and club sandwiches. There's also a small bar in the lobby's living room that serves basic cocktails. There's no on-site parking and finding a spot in the neighborhood can be difficult.  

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7-11 Queensberry Place, South Kensington, London SW7 2DW, United Kingdom

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