When I’m sauntering through Mayfair, I generally feel a bit Bertie Woosterish, as if I’m off to perform pastoral dances in Hyde Park. What’s not to like? You can spend a pleasant hour purchasing your latest Baby Bentley or perhaps drop a few thou in one of several louche but discreet gambling dens. But when you stroll jauntily along the manicured avenues smug in the knowledge that you have your very own luxury pad awaiting you on your return, well – the Wooster factor increases exponentially. I only wish I’d remembered my whangee and the old green homburg.
As I passed down Charles Street, my journey’s end, The Chesterfield Mayfair, seemed to cough gently to grab my attention; if it could, I’m sure it would have taken me by the elbow and led me into its cool interior with a reassuring, “This way, Sir.”
Once inside, I can assure you that you are on the cusp of a very English slice of civilisation. Delightfully dim and cosy bar, with dinner-suited ivory-tinkler? Guaranteed. Teeny tiny triangles of sandwich, delicious mini scones with jam and cream washed down with elegant flutes of Champagne? But of course.
The establishment is a triumph of thought, both fore and after. Nothing is left to chance, no nuance a mere accident. The Chesterfield – brethren of the Red Carnation family of selected world hotels – is a celebration of personality over ubiquity.
Not for The Chesterfield row upon row of identical pod bedrooms, franchised carpets and nationwide menus. Every single one of its 107 bedrooms is individually furnished in astonishing detail. There’s an Africa suite straight off the savannah, beswagged rooms fit for Dame Maggie Smith and cool bachelor apartments replete with jacuzzis and pop-up TVs.
Before your stay, you’ll be asked to complete a preference questionnaire so you can be matched to the room of your desires. And the personal service does not end there. No sooner have I flopped gratefully into my armchair in the splendid Dormer Suite – separate office/study complete with a complimentary carafe of sherry – than the doorbell gives a merry chime. Outside is a charming young lady welcoming me to the hotel with a box of homemade biscuits.
Now I could lie to you and tell you that I had previously devised a devilish set of examinations designed to test the mettle of this luxury hotel and its staff. Or, I could be honest and tell you that I’m often a complete plum and forget the most basic of travel requirements.
So with the latter in mind, it wasn’t long before the first essential omission from my appalling packing came to light.
Call number one to concierge:
“Hello, Mr Hammond, is everything alright?”
“Wonderful thanks, except that I’ve managed to forget to pack any socks for my dinner engagement this evening.”
No pause or discernible sniggering.
“No problem, Sir, I shall give you the details of a gentleman’s dress shop just up the road.”
Just like that. In minutes I had ventured to aforementioned dress shop, remortgaged my home to purchase a pair of black dress socks and was safely back in my luxury suite.
Fast forward two hours, midway through a catch-as-catch-can wrestling bout with my cufflinks.
“Good evening Mr Hammond, how can we help?”
“I’m afraid I’ve forgotten something else. Sorry.”
Still no laughter. A warm and genial tone permeates.
“Not to worry, I’m sure we can sort it out. How can we help?”
“I haven’t packed any deodorant.”
“Right, Sir. Give me a minute.”
It’s 6.45pm, still in excess of 70 degrees Celsius outside and I have booked a taxi for 7pm sharp. I cannot attend the evening’s event in a stultifying suit without deodorant. I shall be an abomination by the time the amuse-bouche are served.
At 6.55pm, the doorbell gives the impression someone is without. Mopping my fretful brow, I open the door and the concierge hands me a can of delightful, delicious, deodorising spray. My evening is saved.
When I return several hours later, I smell only of Cognac and Cuban cigars and I’m able to relax in my study with a nightcap of sherry.
The next morning, after kippers and coffee, I’m back in Wooster mode, checking out the art shops and smoking a relaxing cigar amid the sentinel plane trees of Mount Street Gardens. And once I’ve conducted my business in the metrop, I meet fellow Arbuteers Jonesy and Lawrence for luncheon in the cool and airy conservatory where we plan world domination and gibber aimlessly over the wine menu.
There can be no doubt as to my repast. The Dover Sole at The Chesterfield is heralded as the best in London, and who am I to disagree? Filleted miraculously at the table on the hotel’s wonder trolley – a theatrically ornate silver gas-fuelled perambulator – this grilled fish is indeed superb.
My wife phones. I must return home. It appears I am not Bertie Wooster after all.
I check out with tangible regret. This is a classy but personable hotel and repeat business is understandably high. The concierge gives me a smile and a nod as I depart and despite my protestations to the contrary, the deodorant does not even appear on my bill.
Now that’s the sweet smell of success.
The Chesterfield Mayfair, 35 Charles Street, London, W1J 5EB. Tel: +44 (0) 20 7491 2622. Website.