Brown's Hotel

Jan 29th, 2006, 02:18 PM
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Brown's Hotel

As many of you are aware, Brown's hotel has more or less just reopened after a major (entire) refurbishment programme.

This evening, I went in there for the first time since it reopened. My few observations may be of interest to those of you who lamented its closure.

It is still only a small hotel (relatively speaking) with limited public areas. Doorman didn't open doors upon my arrival as he was busy. One passes through the "tea lounge' into the bar. The cloakroom is located through the bar so customers from the "tea lounge" have to continually pass through the bar - most irritating.

Decor in the "tea lounge" is classical - dark woods, leather chairs, low seating, it reminds me of The Connaught. The bar is a grey painted room, with various booths for intimate seating around the periphery of the space. Flooring is stripped, rustic, golden oak. Seating varies from dark, soft leather chairs and round stools to black, and grey felted wool checked banquettes. The walls are clad in black and white photographs from the twenties. The music is jazz (Nina, Ella et al) so the atmosphere is trying to be prohibition era speak-easy. However, unlike Milk and Honey (similar concept) this seems a little too pale grey, Christian Dior elegant to truly capture something more intimate. But it's an hotel, and as hotel bars go it isn't bad. Staff are kitted out with white double breasted jackets and dark trousers - again emphasising the twenties style guide (or maybe it's deco and is oh so confused).

Cocktails are perfectly mixed, but a little steeply priced. Service was a little off - initially there was a dirty ashtray on the table (from a previous customer) that was not removed for a good twenty minutes. And once it had been replaced, the staff were not quick enough at removing the used ones. The "nibbles" comprised wasabi cased peanuts, black olives (with clear plastic tapered cocktail sticks) and paprika spiced "popcorn".

At just under fifty pounds for four martinis excluding service, it doesn't compare well to a little under fifty pounds for four martinis INCLUDING service at Claridge's. You may wonder why I bring Claridge's into the equation. Brown's promotional literature had cited it as "the new Claridge's" and both enjoy prime Mayfair locations. However, one is at the top of Bond St. and the other one at the bottom. Claridge's fumoir is my favourite location, it is intimate, the barmen are professional, and the staff very discreet and charming. Brown's fancies itself too early on in its relaunch. The young barman somehow has himself confused with the original Harry of Harry's bar and walks around making "witty" remarks. I like my waiting staff to only proffer their opinion when asked for it. And Claridge's nibbles have had more thought go into them - they have the same spiced popcorn (same supplier perhaps), some assorted high quality nuts, but parmesan tuile biscuits with a little leaf of rosemary in the middle of each one. Decor is also exceptional - whether it is the minimalist bar or dark velvet clad super deco fumoir.

In short, I will never return to Brown's as they are more expensive that what I consider to be the finest hotel bar in London - Claridge's. Also, the barman brought the bill over without being asked, something I never ever tolerate. If the rest of the hotel suffers from the same little problems it might be best to avoid it for a year or so until it finds its feet!
m_kingdom2 is offline  
Jan 29th, 2006, 03:19 PM
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But how was afternoon tea???
Underhill is offline  
Jan 29th, 2006, 03:22 PM
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I don't do tea. Honestly, it's not really a London thing. It's purely for tourists. It looked pretty much like any other tea: the usual little sandwiches, patisserie, etc.

I'd still recommend Claridge's for the grander room, history, ceiling heights and service alone.
m_kingdom2 is offline  
Jan 30th, 2006, 01:48 AM
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...just bringing this to the top for the benefit of the others.
m_kingdom2 is offline  
Jan 30th, 2006, 01:53 AM
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I am absolutely convinced there are going to be people who will criticize this "review" because you wrote it. If the same one appeared in Fodors or Travel and Leisure they would be quoting it to anyone who would listen.

Personally, I appreciate your taking the time to write it and post it.
Intrepid1 is offline  
Jan 30th, 2006, 01:55 AM
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Thank you for your comment. However, I am more than happy for fair criticism (or perhaps even unfair) about anything I write. I shall not be offended in the slightest.
m_kingdom2 is offline  
Jan 30th, 2006, 04:45 AM
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Thank you for posting.
cmcfong is offline  
Jan 30th, 2006, 05:01 AM
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Thanks for posting, MK.

ira is offline  
Jan 30th, 2006, 05:30 AM
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Thanks very much for this update, MK. My family had the pleasure of staying at Brown's before renovations, and enjoyed it immensely. I can only imagine what the rates are now!

Weadles is offline  
Jan 30th, 2006, 10:14 AM
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I too would like to thank you for the review. I have stayed at Brown's in the past and was wondering about the renovations.
SeaUrchin is offline  
Feb 1st, 2006, 08:00 AM
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Sheila: Perhaps the "gratuitously rude tmk649" would appreciate this!
m_kingdom2 is offline  
Feb 1st, 2006, 08:21 AM
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Yes, thank you MK, I was wondering if it had reopened. Surprised that it is more expensive than Claridge's.
Do they have a restaurant? I remember the old one, from many years ago; the sort of place where you dine with your grandparents.
Tulips is offline  
Feb 1st, 2006, 08:56 AM
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They do, but the menu wasn't to my tastes. The trouble is that Brown's used to have old fashioned charm (albeit faded), now it's all new inside (although some of it is possibly reclaimed...but certainly not well worn) and I can't really see what there is to recommend it over the alternatives.

The bar is certainly not unpleasant, it's just I'd rather go to Claridge's which scores more highly in every single category.
m_kingdom2 is offline  

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