The Laslett, London

Like most long-term Londoners I have a tribal alliance to my own corner of the city (east) and rarely venture out to the wild west's eerily well-kept, whitewashed streets outside of the annual bacchanal of Carnival. It was with an undue feeling of adventure, then, that I hopped on to the Central Line the wrong way round after work for a mini-staycation at Notting Hill's The Laslett. Composed of five Grade II-listed townhouses, this decidedly well-heeled hotel is named after Rhaune Laslett, the founder of Notting Hill Carnival, and self-professedly takes inspiration from the "energy and creativity" of the neighbourhood.

On walking through the black-and-white tiled entrance it's immediately obvious that we're talking more the Riesling than Red Stripe kind of bohemian. Designed by British architect Tom Barlett's studio Waldo Works, the hotel's ground-floor communal space is subtly eccentric rather than all-out iconoclast. A sophisticated palette of dove-grey, dark-teal and cream is punctuated with intriguing elements like the double-fronted cabinet to the left of reception, which is stuffed with curiosities from local antiques dealership Les Couilles du Chien that are also available to purchase. The library opposite is lined with good-looking tomes from local writers that you can peruse on the spot or take back to your room to get to know more intimately. Furniture by Pinch and Race and wall art by Biba founder Barbara Hulanicki add to the luxe-boho vibe.


The hotel's 51 rooms are a mix of understated and out-there - on the wall above the bed, for example, I encountered plastic fruit framed in a perspex box next to a black-and-white photo of Carnival speakers. We stayed in a master suite that felt cavernous for townhouse lodgings, while grey-tiled bathroom contained a glorious bathtub and Roberts Revival radio. My favourite touch was the continuation of the literary theme from downstairs, with the piles of battered Penguin paperbacks stacked above the headboard including my university favourite of Helen Gardner's The Metaphysical Poets (#HotelsDonneRight).

What's for breakfast?

From 6AM, the bar's countertop is scattered with baskets of pastries, cheeseboards and a pleasing amount of every Brit's favourite yeast-based breakfast treat, Marmite. There's also a menu where you can choose from modern classics like smashed avocado and poached eggs on sourdough or a smoked salmon bagel, and if you're not quite ready to untangle yourself from your super-king-sized bedsheets you can ask to have a tray delivered to your room instead.

How about lunch and dinner?

Although you're spoilt for choice when it comes to eating out in Notting Hill, if you do opt to stay in there's a small all-day menu ranging from comfort food like mac and cheese and shepherd's pie to sharing plates and nibbles. Afternoon tea is also available and they've recently introduced oyster night on Thursdays. The atmosphere is casual rather than stuffy and you can choose to dine in the library rather than the lounge/bar.

Is there a bar?

Named after Russ Henderson, another of the Carnival's founding fathers, the Henderson Bar serves a good selection of classic and original cocktails - their signature rum punch is a tribute to Henderson himself, whose portrait also hangs above the bar. On sunnier days grab a table on the front terrace and watch the entertaining mix of locals pass by.


Each room has a "Big Bar" where alongside a free coffee machine you'll find Sipsmith gin and vodka, "good" (healthy) and "bad" (less so) snacks and an impressive variety of wines. Apparently you can also purchase stockings and knickers from the retro-inspired Mrs Miller, although we couldn't locate these and wondered if you were meant to request them from reception...

Despite its carnivalesque namesake, The Laslett is not a party hotel - think book club rather than night club. You're more likely to be sidling up next to families and couples than dancehall kings and queens.

Within a short walk I can find...

The rainbow row of Portobello Road is just a few minutes away and offers antique shops aplenty by day and favourites like the Electric Cinema, bar Trailer Happiness and a mixture of high-end and high-street eateries by night.

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East London