Initially built as a private mansion in the late 19th century, The Milestone Hotel remains a regal establishment exuding a captivating blend of Victorian grandeur meets modern luxury in the heart of Kensington.
Traveller: Cathy Wagstaff
Room: Hermès Suite
Address: 1-3 Kensington Court, London W8
Date: December 2023
Best for: Travellers seeking the allure of London’s old-world hospitality at its most refined
With roots dating back to 1689, three townhouses were combined to create the hotel in 1922 with a recent three-year large-scale renovation of the entire property that has seen each of the 55 rooms and suites (an additional six residences are ideal for extended stays) individually designed. All rooms are dressed with sumptuous fabrics and a mix of antique and custom-made furnishings. Many suites boast panoramic views of Kensington Palace and Gardens beyond.
The Signature factor
The exterior is a showcase of classic British architecture. Its imposing red-brick facade, adorned with intricate detailing and stately windows framed by ornate mouldings, reflects the opulence of a bygone era perfectly positioned across the road from Kensington Palace.
Entering the hotel, you are immediately drawn into a world of refined sophistication and impeccable detail. The interior seamlessly marries historic charm with modern comforts. The lobby sets the tone with its high ceilings and polished marble floors. In the corridors hang a carefully curated selection of artwork and artefacts, each offering a glimpse into the hotel’s storied past.
Throughout the hotel, attention to detail is paramount. The design elements pay homage to the building’s heritage while ensuring a contemporary and comfortable stay for the modern traveller.
As I check into the stunning Hermès Suite with its mid-20th-century design and framed Hermès scarves adorning the wall, I’m immediately blown away.
Taking centre stage is a Herculean bronze four-poster bed with a decadent green velvet bedspread and bespoke Milestone bed linens. With Italian brass-bound lacquered mother-of-pearl bedside chests under a four-metre-high coffered ceiling. Tall green ceramic bedside lamps with cream shades balance the colour palate, with cream and green striped curtains framing the windows. A private balcony running the suite length with three large arched double doors opens to views towards Hyde Park.
A relaxed sofa sitting area is centred by a green velvet lounge, two side chairs, a glass-topped coffee table, a decorated desk with bust and books, and tall copper lampstands. The black marble bathroom boasts a large walk-in shower, heated towel rail, deep bathtub, monogrammed bath towels, plush bathrobes and Floris toiletries.
It’s so hard to choose just one suite as each has a distinct character yet the Grand Master Suites are iconic. From The Noel Coward Suite, with its art deco touches and antiques. To the playful Harlequin Suite, inspired by 15th-century pantomime. The property is part of Red Carnation Hotels, owned by Tollman family dynasty. Stanley came from a family of Hoteliers, with every room individually designed by his wife, Beatrice, utilising the private collection of original artwork. Her son, Brett, heads up The Travel Corporation in Australia and the highly respected TreadRight Foundation.
On my plate
The Milestone’s restaurant, Chenestons, whose name is an early spelling of Kensington, offers fine British cuisine from Executive Chef Daniel Putz. When I visit in December, it has the ultimate Christmas feel with its stunning Christmas tree with its twinkling lights reflecting off the leadlight windows.
Waiters wearing dinner jackets serving classic British dishes like roasts from a silver trolley rolled out from the kitchen to be eaten by candlelight. But first, start the night with a Smoking Old Fashioned, The Milestone’s signature cocktail, at Stables Bar. With its polished wood panelling and green leather banquettes under paintings by Belgian sporting artist Elie Lambert, it’s an eclectic mix of equestrian meets gentleman’s club.
Highlights from the mini-bar
Book the Hermès Suite and receive a bottle of Champagne. Plus, a welcome beverage upon arrival, complimentary evening canapés, fresh fruits and mineral bottled water.
I wish I could take home…
One of The Milestone’s unique experiences. From an in-room cocktail masterclass with one of the hotel’s expert mixologists to a private music recital in your suite by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.
Delve into one of The Milestone’s immersive experiences as mentioned above. Enjoy hand-crafted cocktails in Stable’s Bar. Or visit the elegant Park Lounge for a quintessentially British Afternoon Tea. There are also therapies available 24-hours a day – including massage, reflexology, aromatherapy, facials, manicures and pedicures – from the hotel spa.
Facing Kensington Palace, the hotel is perfect for local exploration, from the winding Kensington Church Street with its myriad of fashion boutiques to the iconic Royal Albert Hall and onwards to Knightsbridge to Harrods and galleries like the V&A. The West End theatres are an easy cab or tube ride away.
The hotel expertise
President and founder Beatrice has built Red Carnation Hotels – lovingly named after the signature flower her husband always wore – with a passion for generous hospitality with the collection now boasting 17 exceptional properties around the world: they also have venues in Ireland, South Africa, Switzerland and the United States. Today the Carnation is also worn by every team member.
You are quickly drawn into a world with an air of aristocratic grace that’s not stuffy yet a nod to The Milestone Hotel’s illustrious history. Interwoven with the past yet with plenty of touches to the modern age.