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The Weekender: London

Our publisher's return to London unveils a wonderful hotel and a gem of a townhouse. 

Henry's Townhouse

“When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life” — Dr Samuel Johnson

My mother’s family are from Gravesend, Kent, UK, a small town on the River Thames, and, for a couple of generations, the family worked on tugboats. I always feel a sense of returning home when I fly up the Thames Estuary to land at London City Airport, even though I was born in Africa.

I had last been in London in late February 2020 and must admit I was curious to return to this great city to see whether or not much had changed over the last two challenging years. I knew of establishments that had closed and would never open their doors again but I was heading to Carlton Tower, which had in this period gone through a phenomenal renovation and had recently reopened.

Most conveniently, this property towers over Knightsbridge and Belgravia, and is perfectly located to try Eldr at Pantechnicon, Motcomb Street, a curious mix of Scandinavian-Japanese; and to return to a favourite of mine, The Sea on Pavilion Road. It has been years since I was so impressed with the staff of a London hotel. I was graciously welcomed by the team and then accommodated in a wonderful suite overlooking not only Cadogan Gardens but much of London.

Caviar from The Sea, a fishmonger

Originally opened in 1961, Carlton Tower has gone through an entire transformation. The breakfast room is bright and airy, and it was hard to resist trying more than I should have. What struck me most with the hotel is the attention to detail.

One afternoon, I returned with some clothing and shoes that I had had in storage. The young bellboy commented on the shoes (made by Markus Scheer of Scheer & Soehne, Vienna) and offered to take all five pairs away and have them polished. Shoe cleaning is something most hotels gave up on a long time ago. It is an easy test to separate hotels even within the luxury range. Not only were they returned immaculately cleaned but also bagged and boxed too and with shoe trees! I don’t recall when I last saw such service or enthusiasm. A pair of dusty sunglasses placed on a vanity table a few hours earlier were suddenly clean and a cleaning cloth had been left for me to keep them in that state.

Service and detail sets Carlton Tower apart from any other five-star hotel in London I’ve stayed in. Aaron Kaupp has set this transformation in motion and it’s impossible not to notice it.

The Eldr at Pantechnicon, Motcomb Street

Henry’s Townhouse, Upper Berkeley Street, is an absolutely gem. This exclusive-use rental property gives you the home in London you don’t have. Named after Jane Austen’s brother, Henry, a former resident of the building, one quite literally steps into another world of a bygone era.

Quaintly decorated with walls covered in art, this home away from home is the perfect way to bring a family to London and not stay in an hotel. I am happiest when immersed in authenticity and surrounded by flowers. Henry’s Townhouse certainly didn’t disappoint. It would be hard to pick a favourite room but the good news is you don’t have to. All seven of them are yours for the duration of your stay. This home is run impeccably and with great discretion and privacy. It comes as no surprise as this is the same team behind Temple Guiting Manor in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire. Conveniently, it’s a short walk to my favourite fish and seafood restaurant: Scott’s on Mount Street.

David’s accommodation was, as always, arranged for by @pkslist. 

This article originally appeared in Billionaire's Exploration Issue, Autumn 2022. To subscribe click here.