Hotel Xenia is located in a 19th-century townhouse on the Cromwell Road, Kensington, easy to find and a great place to stay for The Royal Albert Hall and just a 15-minute stroll from the Natural History Museum and the Victoria & Albert Museum. This boutique hotel has 99 rooms and the interiors have a traditional, homely feel to them. The Hotel Xenia is part of the Autograph Collection Hotels with Marriott Bonvoy.
While we checked in, we were offered various drink options including prosecco, tea, latte, and cappuccino by the very helpful doorman who carried our cases up the stairs and showed us to the check in area. We appreciated the hospitality of a glass of prosecco and an early check in after arriving in good time. While sipping on our bubbly prosecco, Mauro greeted us and made us feel extremely welcome, then took us to our room to explain the various items available. We were especially impressed with the key holder which turns into a very handy pocket-sized map that highlights attractions and tube stations nearby.
We stayed in one of the Hotel Xenia’s Deluxe Rooms on the fifth floor with two single beds, Nespresso machine, kettle, bottled water, in-room magazines, luxurious linen, hairdryer and useful tablet for booking tours (not just in London but even a trip to Paris) with the concierge team. Nico was on hand during our stay and was very helpful to another couple who were looking for theatre tickets; he always very pleasant to us too, and asked if there was anything he could do for us.
The room also has Xenia Black slippers and a seating area where you can relax on a sofa with cushions and a cashmere blanket or sit at a desk to write your important memos on the pad provided. The room was spotlessly clean and the bed very comfortable; we had a very good nights sleep and woke feeling refreshed and ready to hit breakfast! The bathroom comes with generous L’Occitane toiletries which smell great and with the rain shower and oversized fluffy towels – you can get yourself pampered and ready to go anywhere! Although small, the bathroom had everything you required including bath robes.
Outside of the rooms, there’s a small bar called the Living Wall – the cocktail bar was quiet and had a nice vibe to it. They have an exciting cocktail menu and a pretty herb garden where guests can relax with a drink and partake in the cigar masterclass. During our stay, we were looked after by Kyle who showed us flair while making cocktails and also being informative with knowledge of the liquor and the cigars. We also liked his exuberance about being part of a family and this is what we felt during our stay – the whole Hotel Xenia team were friendly, attentive and enjoyed being part of the Hotel Xenia family.
During our stay, we had lunch at the hotel restaurant Evoluzione, arriving at the dining area through the beautiful bar where you can also dine, and which is minimalistic and stylish with a piano that can entertain in the evening. The kitchen at Evoluzione is headed up by award winning Italian Chef Andrea Angeletti who brings his distinctive flair to a range of dishes inspired by his childhood in Italy. Erica and Ewelina looked after us as we sat in the lower level of the restaurant in the conservatory area and Andrea came out to greet us and explain what we would be eating from his kitchen with his specially designed menu for us. The standard menu at Evoluzione is full of a variety of beautiful Italian dishes served on plates that are hand selected by Andrea to give each dish its own unique signature and presentation.
We had a varied choice of breads from Italy to start our journey with Andrea. The breads were served with oil and balsamic vinegar on a wooden board brought to us by Erica who was incredibly friendly and well informed on the restaurant’s menu and history. Andrea explained the origin, inspiration and process of each dish, what was lovely was Andrea came out before each dish to describe what we were about to eat.
Our selected starters were white asparagus with ginger mayo and vegetables, and beef steak tartar on parmesan biscuit with avocado ice cream. Each dish was beautifully presented and light with amazing flavours. In the asparagus dish, Andrea uses no eggs in the ginger mayonnaise but whisked soya milk and the ginger was not overpowering but delicate and subtle, so this dish is also vegan friendly. Both choices were perfect to start a meal with and we knew from this moment we were in for a treat.
As in any Italian feast, pasta was next with handmade gnocchi with white rabbit ragout and roasted squid (we did not have the squid due to allergies) and homemade tortellini 3P (panna, prosciutto e piselli – cream, cooked ham and peas). Both dishes were very tasty with rich distinctive flavours and usually gnocchi can be heavy and boring but here this is not the case!
The mains were roasted duck breast with an aromatic burnt onion crust and forest berry sauce tender and lamb wrapped in caul fat, on a bed of quinoa served with fried potatoes. The duck melted beautifully in the mouth and the burnt onion was not what one would expect – having Andrea explain the method has given me inspiration to try the burnt onion at my next dinner party! The duck dish was vibrant summer dish with a red berry sauce and bright green mange tout, in contrast the lamb was a perfect winter dish with the taste of quinoa and small deep-fried potatoes. The succulent lamb takes two hours to cook and is glazed with butter and stuffed with mint, lemon and lard of pork. Just when we thought we couldn’t possibly eat another morsel we were honoured to view a showcase of Andrea’s creative and stunning desserts.
The desserts served to us were a real treat, the first titled: Sorry Mama was dark chocolate shaped like a broken flower pot on a base of crumbled chocolate cake, berry ice cream and yoghurt mousse with fresh fruit and edible flowers. Not just a feast for the taste buds but also for the eyes and ears with Andrea’s tale of breaking his mother’s flowerpot while playing football and bringing this inspiration to life. The second dessert was called: Hi Mama I brought a new pot! This came with a white sauce that was poured over the dish from a small watering can – this was entertaining as Andrea showcased his passion and family history in Roma. In a white chocolate pot, the dessert has coffee mousse, salted caramel ice cream, almond crisp and mascarpone froth.
Our visit to Evoluzione was a magical experience delivered by a chef who is passionate about his food and here at Hotel Xenia he has created a unique, Italian menu with dishes which would be hard to find elsewhere. The whole Hotel Xenia experience is one that we truly enjoyed and wish to experience again. The staff are all at hand to assist, the location is great and the room perfect for a stay when attending an event at The Royal Albert Hall as we did. Thanks for a great stay and thanks for the very warm welcome from all the staff in the hotel, bar and restaurant who could not do enough.
160 Cromwell Rd
London SW5 0TL