Located in the French stronghold of South Kensington and just a two-minute hustle to the Museums, the Ampersand offers an oxymoronic conundrum, in that guests will find a dazzling, intimate boutique hotel housed within a vast 111-room multi-storey edifice. A classy affair, it attracts a clientele pleased to have found a hotel with style that doesn’t push them out of their comfort zone, with details like its stunning light installation in the entrance stairwell providing just the right level of "hip." A bastion of culture, the neighborhood is crammed with all a visitor needs to enjoy a long stay without having to leave the surrounding vicinity.
YOU SHOULD KNOW South Kensington becomes almost unbearably busy at times during the summer holiday season, which makes boarding the Tube a nightmare at closing time for the museums. So be warned of waves of families and children clutching dinosaur toys.
From France to music, geometry to botany, the décor in the hotel draws on a range of inspirations linked to the surrounding area, with rooms decorated in subtle, yet playful, style. Velvet headboards, sleek fixtures, on-demand movies and media hubs feature in every room, which range in size from small singles and doubles to top-floor suites with views over the rooftops.
Bathrooms are bright, modern monochrome affairs with plenty of mirrored surfaces and smatterings of ubiquitous subway tiles. Rooms come with either walk-in showers or bath/shower combos and all have an array of L’Occitane toiletries for guests to use (and take!).
Deluxe Studios come with the luxurious addition of in-room freestanding baths.
The bright, contemporary lobby shows few signs of the building’s Victorian origins, with most attention focused on the celestial light installation that winds up the central staircase. The marble entrance hall features a small annexed lounge area with couches and armchairs.
A small gym features all the machines you’ll need for a basic workout, including cross-trainers, treadmills, and exercise bikes.
Guests can choose between the modern Mediterranean dishes of Apero, set within an equally modern space filled with geometric patterned tiles, exposed brick and colourful furniture. Alternatively, opt for the more mellow Gallic influenced Drawing Room and its light bites.
Served in the Drawing Room, the famous Science Afternoon Tea is a unique twist on the classic, inspired by the nearby Science and Natural History museums. Expect planet-shaped macarons and dinosaur biscuits.
While not located too centrally, the hotel is within walking distance of enough museums, shops, fine restaurants, and other attractions to keep most busy for a week. King’s Road and Knightsbridge have the Conran Shop and Harrods respectively, as well as myriad restaurants and bars, while central London is a short Tube (South Kensington Station) or cab ride away.
A South Kensington institution, Daquise (40minute walk) is delightfully old fashioned, having quite possibly kept the same menu for the past 50 years. Head to Wright Brothers (5-minute walk) for oysters and other super-fresh seafood.
The excellent Admiral Codrington (10-minute walk) combines great food and drink, while the chic Beaufort House (19-minute walk) is a decidedly upmarket Chelsea choice for cocktails and wine.
WHY WE LIKE IT
Exemplifying the diverse cultural quarter that is South Kensington, the hotel enhances the neighborhood and vice versa. Stylish, contemporary rooms are a pleasure, drinking and dining options are ideal and the proximity to the museums is perfect, making it the complete boutique package.