The Hospital Club
Where: London, UK
Long story short: Stylish, creativity-driven secret in the thick of London’s West End.
Short story long: Of all the hotel amenities that have been touted to me in my decade and a half of reviewing hotels, an “interesting turn down service” has never been one of them. I was still kind of bleary-eyed and limp-tailed from my red-eye flight, so as I’m shown to my room (I arrived at 10am, and I'm almost religiously grateful to be allowed to check in), my mind is firmly on showering and hitting the high-count cotton for a few non-earned but very necessary Z’s.
It’s the first thing I think about when I wake up around noon, though. What could it mean? Pillow chocolates produced via slight-of-hand magic? Housekeeping performing the dance of the seven veils? Bedtime stories?
Seven hours of suspense awaited, so I focused on exploring the room. There are only 15 of them in the establishment, the establishment in question being a private members’ club for central London creative types with several rooms to congregate in and plan that start-up – What’s that, Jamie? Uber but for jetlag cures? Sign me up.
My room, though, is a retro-lined symphony, all browns and oranges and super-stylish wooden furniture and surprising attention to detail - the magazine rack contains 70s pop magazines, Abba and Phil Lynott staring out at me with unswerving cool from 40 years ago.
The rest of the décor straddles time, with 70s, 60s and even 50s influences, but tied up neatly and cohesively. There’s a huge circular couch, a classy drinks cabinet instead of a minibar and modern art on the walls (each suite features a different artist). In short, it looks like the kind of hedonistically chic pad that Don Draper could make a thousand bad decisions in. There’s an upscale ‘erotic minibar’ with paddles and blindfolds, so that certainly doesn’t help with staying chaste.
My love for the huge rain shower was probably exaggerated by my need for cleanliness but the bathroom maintains the levels of classiness with aplomb and alacrity. There are big old bottles of high-end goo for all your grooming needs. Decadence is a running theme.
This maybe isn’t surprising given the minds and money behind the building. Paul Allen (yes, the Microsoft-founding one) was apparently sipping a pint of mild with Dave Stewart (yes, the Eurhythmics-founding one) when they spotted the building – then somewhat dilapidated – and they hatched a plan to revive it and make it into a creative hub/node/pod (whatever creatives call buildings these days).
It’s beautifully done, for sure. Colourful, big art peppers all the public spaces, the dining and socialising rooms are reassuringly modern and the staff manage to walk that difficult line between being hip but not so hip you kind of hate everybody that isn’t. I guess I mean they are friendly and helpful. The rooms have things like artfully inspirational workbooks and go-getting slogans. I felt permanently pepped.
The location – smack dab in the middle of Covent Garden – is as enviable as all get out, and you feel like you’re staying in a secret hideaway as there’s no real signage and barely anyone I mentioned it to (some of them movers and a sprinkling of shakers) knew that they had rooms there, though lots of them had been for breakfast meetings.
Refreshed, I headed out into London to do British things like eat my weight in fish and chips and buy Doc Martens and ride in the tube not looking at or talking to anybody. I met friends and kind of lost track of time. “The turn-down service!” I exclaimed to everyone’s bemusement at around 6pm. “I have to get back!”
I arrived back at the Hospital Club all a-tizzy, running up to my room only to find a bed with its sheets folded back and two (very tasty) macaroons on the pillow. OH NO. Maybe they were dropped there Cirque du Soleil-style from a trapeze and I missed it with my stupid catching up with old friends. You should never leave a hotel room. Such a schoolboy error.
I sat down to try and work up a good huff. I had another shower, and hung out in my gown, sulking on the big couch just like Don Draper wouldn’t. And then…a knock on the door. I opened it to a uniformed bartender and she seemed to want to come in with her huge wooden trolley.
Who was I to refuse? I’m here to mix you a complimentary Nixon, she said. I mumbled thanks despite not knowing what that was, and ducked into the bathroom to change (“Everyone does that!” she shouted through) and by the time I came out with a little more composure, it was ready. Sloe gin, cherries, smalltalk with an attractive booze expert. Yes, as turn down services go, it’s atop a league of not very many memorable ones. Macaroons and all.
It’s an undeniably desirable place to stay, quirky enough to be interesting, too and, after all, you can’t spell hospitality with ‘hospital’.
Champagne tastes: The bottle bar menu and drinks cabinet aren’t the cheapest (£160 bottle of Remy Martin anyone?). The suite starts at around £580 a night, but some rooms start at around £170.
Shandy pockets: The food – for a place like this in a city like London – is actually very reasonably priced. Just over £5 for a bacon sandwich and I’ve seen way more expensive Full Englishes in way less impressive properties. Commendable.
Details: The Hospital Club, 24 Endell Street, London. Tel: 020 7170 9100 / www.thehospitalclub.com
Paul Oswell was a guest of the The Hospital Club
The Hospital Club: