In our modern world, there is no time for the frippery of a hotel reception desk. We are, after all, busy and important people (I keep telling myself) and whether we’re on the clock or clocking off, queuing for a pre-booked room shouldn’t factor into our plans.
Gladly, this is one of the many thoughts I share with the excellent team behind newly revived icon, The Athenaeum. Its bellhops and top-hatted door staff make for a seemingly traditional five-star welcome, but one step into the beautiful lounge-cum-reception is evidence enough of the modern heart beating beneath its sleek exterior. Steps away from Green Park, the space is an oasis of calm in which the often impatient wait for the room key actually becomes an opportunity to relax.
When a member of the tablet-wielding check-in team glides over to your sofa, the question of your reservation is swiftly followed by one asking if you’d like a drink. The answer is, of course, yes – and, besides, you’ve earned it.
Thirst quenched, room key in hand, the biggest decision of the night is upon you: dinner. Less liberally minded individuals will make a beeline for the superb restaurant by the Michelin-starred Galvin brothers. With a happy blend of French and British favourites (get the crab lasagna to start), your decision would be a good one – but the chefs’ ambitious decision to take over the room service operation of the hotel is difficult to resist. Eating in your dressing gown is optional, but encouraged.
Speaking of rooms, the hotel has 164 of them – each as understated and elegant as the next – including 44 overlooking Green Park. If you’re expecting flash, you won’t find it here: bedrooms are classy yet practical – a calming and welcome escape from The Smoke.
Even the three-bedroom penthouse is subtly luxurious in its charms. Sure, you’ll find a Jacuzzi bath and a fantastic private balcony, but this is definitely a space that is much closer to a home from home than a palatial experience. In a way, that only adds to its considerable appeal – and explains the number of full-time residents among the usual prattling of tourists and business folk.
In fact, that is a new life goal for me. Should you find a slightly deranged young gentleman roaming the halls, just know that I succeeded. Or slipped past security again.
For more information, athenaeumhotel.com