NICK HAMMOND basks in the care of a five-star London establishment where staff outnumber guests two to one…
WHEN I eventually shuffle off this mortal coil – and I’m planning a good, long, watchable innings, let me reassure you – I hope Saint Peter will be there with a friendly smile and a cheeky custom-rolled Cohiba to welcome me aboard.
We’ll share an anecdote, maybe a glass of something old, sherry-casked and lightly-peated – and then he’ll throw a paternal arm around my shoulder and lead me over to those pearly gates.
And it’s here I hope I might just find a Red Carnation discreetly rendered among the shimmering bars; for I cannot think of a better style in which to spend eternity than that espoused by Bea Tollman’s extraordinary collection of high class establishments.
You’ve read of my admiration for her work in these pages before, perchance. But the trip to No.41 – a very discreet five-star a stonesthrow from Buckingham Palace – has raised the bar yet again.
It’s not just the personal greeting at the door, or the two staff per guest on hand to attend to my every whim. Nor is it the welcoming glass of rosé Champagne on arrival or even the delight of finding a hot water in my bed on a bitter night in London. It is a combination of the above – and much, much more.
The former ballroom of sister hotel Rubens at The Palace next door, No.41 is an exquisite and stylish townhouse with a soaring, light-filled Executive Room and just 30 exclusive rooms.
The Executive Room is clubbable and elegant, with a fireplace and giant spinning globe forming a centerpiece and a discreet bar and wonderful ‘pantry’ serving guests whenever the fancy takes them.
I notice a top button has popped from my jacket somewhere between Euston and Buckingham Palace Road and happen to mention it on arrival. And when I go to put on my jacket the next morning, it’s hanging in my wardrobe – avec bouton. I’m not quite sure when or and how, but the Red Carnation fairies have been at work.
Similarly, I only have to mention I need a couple of shirts pressing and require an iron and ironing board, than the garments are whisked away and returned in neatly pressed splendour.
My Executive Suite is the height of practical luxury; black and white, wood and marble, every facet considered and aesthetic.
A small closet turns out to be an exquisite shower, with a high-ceilinged head which mimics an afternoon tropical downpour. Most-invigorating-shower-in- ages box ticked.
The walk-in wardrobe has a host of useful drawers and ledges, a tray for your shoes and a full-length mirror; there’s a pop-up television at the foot of the bed; Bose sound system, glorious, sound-damping, light-blocking curtains.
I nip out for an evening function with a whistle and a jaunty step, safe in the knowledge that when I return – at whatever hour – there’ll be a comforting drink and an array of food awaiting me as part of my stay.
No.41 offers the admirable Plunder the Pantry initiative, which means you never have to fret about missing a meal again. Throughout the day, the discreet area is stocked with snacks and sandwiches, scones and cream, sweet treats and savoury delights.
And when I return from my sojourn, much later than anticipated, somewhat jaded and having missed at least two meals during the day, there’s Ivo waiting for me with a tumbler of Scotch and Soda.
Ivo’s a Portugese recruit to the Red Carnation family and an example of the friendly professionalism that sets them apart.
There’s a truckle of Stilton available, fruit, meats and hotpots of what looks like sweet and sour pork and rice. And it’s 1am. Ivo is on hand to get me whatever takes my fancy and we chat about international cuisine, cigars and Donald Trump, in no particular order.
And so to bed.
The morn is celebrated, as is so often my wont, with a pair of kippers and a detour from the usual with the addition of a little South African Boerewors as a nod to Mrs Tollman’s homeland.
It is raining fit to depress Noah outside, and as I check out and impart my humble thanks, I’m told I’ll be greeted at the door with a hotel umbrella.
And I am. And so armed, I step out into Belgravia and hope my celestial experience, when it eventually comes – as it must to us all – will include a little slice of Red Carnation hospitality.
It really is the stuff of angels.
For more information about 41, its services, amenities and more sumptuous images to entice you, visit www.41hotel.com.