Artist Residence, London


You can tell a lot about a hotel from its minibars. In the case of London’s Artist Residence, you’ll find a miniature Smeg fridge set into a reclaimed timber sideboard, stocked with a proper tea pot and cafetière, ground Allpress coffee in a Kilner jar, gourmet Joe & Seph’s popcorn and truffle-rosemary skin-on crisps by Savoursmiths. It says: we’re boutique, bijou and thoroughly British. Cool and a bit quirky. All exceedingly fitting for an unassuming, individualistic property in Pimlico.

Like so many of the Regency terraces in this corner of south-west London, 52 Cambridge Street was designed by Thomas Cubitt, while the street counts Laura Ashley as a former resident. It’s a five-minute walk to Victoria Station yet feels blissfully far from the madding crowd. Inside, there’s the sense that you’ve entered a private home (albeit one far fancier than my own), thanks to its unobtrusive service – instead of a lobby, there’s a tiny desk with jars of sweets – and small scale of just 10 guest rooms. In fact, when my black cab drew up outside I missed the hotel’s modest doorway altogether, instead mistakenly wandering through the adjoining all-day bistro, Cambridge Street Kitchen.

The hotel is crammed with art: quelle surprise! Heading up the red-carpeted stairs (remember to pack light, as there isn’t a lift) to my top-floor suite, The Loft, was like wandering through a contemporary art gallery. I spied Pure Evil’s Warhol pastiches and the Connor Brothers’ fictional book covers among the colourful line-up.

The suite, meanwhile, was the stuff of dreams for any struggling artist; a repository for vintage design finds including a metal locker repurposed as a wardrobe, a chic mid-century desk, rotary dial phone, anglepoise lamps and velvet armchairs. Above a king-size bed, the headboard of which is a reclaimed field gate, hangs a majestic antler chandelier by Ines Cole.

My plans for exploring the area, perhaps doing a little shopping on the Kings’ Road or moseying down to Tate Britain, evaporated upon seeing the bathroom: a cavernous Catchpole & Rye scroll-top tub built for two. Bramley bath salts were sprinkled in, gin and tonics poured over ice, and a pleasant hour spent soaking with a view over Pimlico’s rooftops.

Then it was time to descend to the hotel’s low-lit basement bar, Clarendon Cocktail Cellar. Previous reviews said the drinks were named after different artists but there must have been a recent change as instead I found them themed around cult movies: Pulp Fiction, Anchorman, Lost in Translation and Titanic, complete with huge carved iceberg. A stack of coasters printed with iconic movie posters acted as a clever novelty menu. This drinking den had clearly had enough to draw not only hotel guests but a well-heeled post-work crowd.

Breakfast was taken at street level in the Cambridge Street Kitchen, after an unnecessarily long steam in the walk-in waterfall shower. This time the neighbouring tables were busy with local yummy mummies and creative types having business meetings. After sampling a stack of pancakes with vanilla crème fraiche and berries, plus a super-strong flat white, it was easy to see how the place attracts such a crowd.

This spring Artist Residence has a new addition to its palette of properties, an Oxfordshire bolthole to join those in Brighton and Cornwall. Perhaps the countryside version would be even better, as there would be little to make you budge from the tub, restaurant and cosy rooms; as for Pimlico, I regrettably soon had to be on my way to meet some other artsy neighbours: Messrs. Saatchi and Tate.

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