A grown-up playground for the well-heeled of West London, Blakes hotel is just the right side of louche, and utterly delicious in every way.
A veritable playground for the well-heeled West London set, Blakes is encased in a charcoal exterior that hints at the sultry realms that lie within like a smoke signal rising over Fulham Road.
Touted as the "original boutique hotel", it's decadent and slightly louche inside, meaning that this sleek hideaway has lasting (sex) appeal.
For grown-up playfulness, Blakes is a great spot in SW7 to escape to for a romantic night or weekend getaway.
Across the hotel's 45 rooms (including 10 theatrical suites), designer Anouska Hempel's mark beams bright. From the paired-back Provence Room - all grey with gilded fittings and swathes of velvet across most surfaces - to the Cardinal Suite's kingly drapings in luscious shades of red, rooms at Blakes can always be classified as a flamboyant place of rest. The jewel in the crown is the Corfu Suite, an all-white oasis with floor-to-ceiling drapes and a come-hither four-poster bed whimsically adorned with muslin.
What's for breakfast?
Check-out is at noon and breakfast, rather conveniently, ends at the same (civilised) time. Take your pick of healthy breakfast foods ranging from açaí bowls to avocado on toast and gluten-free hazelnut and chocolate muffins. A moreish vegan breakfast of avocado, mushrooms, baked beans, tofu, tomatoes and quinoa outdoes the Full English here, while the drinks menu serves as a scrumptious side act; it's a toss up between the Peanut Butter Bomb (a blend of whey protein, sugar-free peanut butter, banana, cacao, yoghurt and milk) and the mango lassi for us. Dine in the sleek main restaurant or, weather permitting, in the courtyard - top table goes to the Matthew Williamson designed bird-cage-like structure, complete with the designer's patterned cushions and weather-safe glass roof.
How about lunch and dinner?
With a menu so good, it's tempting to eat at Blakes' ground-level restaurant at every meal - you'll enjoy A+ Meditteranean cuisine with Asian influences. Start with the soft-shell crab with nam-jim dressing to share before ordering a smattering of starters for the table - we were tempted by the vegan-friendly option of cauliflower steak with salsa verde, tahini and turmeric, and the wild-mushroom-and-truffle ravioli (divine). For the main event, you can't go wrong with the miso black cod, while pudding preferences were whittled down to apple tarte tatin and a vegan tiramisu that we would confuse for the real deal. The black-and-gold Anouska Hempel-designed dining room offers guests and well-heeled locals a space that is equal parts luxe and low-key (thanks to screens which cleverly partition the dining space to create private pockets for diners).
Is there a bar?
Blakes Below is open from 7pm from Wednesday to Saturday, serving up music and martinis on tap until 1am. It's best suited to nightcrawlers who detest nightclubs but don't want to turn in come 10pm - call beforehand to book a table if you're not a hotel resident.
Light on extras, Blakes ensures gym and wellness fanatics still get their endorphins fix via the nearby South Kensington Club. Use the hotel's' membership to access SKC's gym facilities as well as other novelties including a communal Russian banya and watsu pool (a therapeutic experience combining warm water and shiatsu massage).
Things I should know
Pets are welcome - even in the restaurant.
Within a short walk I'll find…
The Edition 94 on the Fulham Road is just an eight-minute walk away. Greeted by a cavalcade of hand-blown Italian glass tumblers, fine-silk eye masks, ceramic-shell lamps, hand-embroidered napkins and other beguiling oddities, you're likely to lose hours (and serious pounds) in this utterly scrumptious enclave.