Opened in May 2021, after a slight delay due to COVID lockdowns, The Guardsman Hotel might be new to the London hotel scene but they are certainly on the right track to become a firm favourite. When you wander aimlessly through the residential streets of London’s iconic Borough of Westminster, the redbrick townhouses and lines of trees conjure up images of historic grandiosity, of carriages and coattails. Not five minutes walk from Buckingham Palace and ten from the Houses of Parliament, Westminster Abbey and the Tate Britain, The Guardsman Hotel is in the ideal location from which to explore some of London’s most recognisable and prestigious sights. What’s more, the transport connections give you easy access to Mayfair and the West End, or you can enjoy the fresh air with a morning jog in St James’ or Green Park just round the corner. Inside, carefully chosen soft furnishings and nods to British heritage combine with chic golden lattice screens and the rich leather and panelling of a gentlemen’s club.
The rooms share the same classy and luxurious décor. We stayed in a Guardsman Room, the largest of the rooms on offer, with a large roll top bath at its heart. The setup of the room is much more versatile than many hotels with bath centrepieces; a folding screen can be used to separate the bathroom from the bedroom area, or left open so that you can carry on the conversation with your partner or watch the TV as you soak in a cloud of bubbles (supplied by the fragrant Noble Isle). The blackout curtains are so effective that it’s impossible to tell the time of day when they are shut (perfect for that lazy lie in) and little accents of colour in the plush ruby and mustard armchairs gives the room a unique Guardsman Hotel character. No expense has been spared in supplying the room with proximity sensitive light switch panels and a range of moody settings. We also loved the toasty underfloor heating in the bathroom, as well as doors and wooden fittings with the kind of weight that speaks of quality.
Staff are very helpful and charming; a request for ice was satisfied almost immediately and we felt throughout that everyone was keen to make sure our stay met all our needs. On our second night at the Guardsman Hotel, we ate in The Dining Room. Karan, who served us, was a delight – charming and efficient. From the moment we sat at the bar for a pre-dinner cocktail, we felt very relaxed and were able to enjoy a luxuriously long dinner. To start, Karan made us an off-menu house cocktail known as the Queen’s Bee, which similar to a gimlet: gin, lime and – instead of sugar syrup – honey, mixed to our taste. The menu is modern British to the core, although a few twists meant that there was still plenty to get excited about. The bread basket was freshly baked, hot enough to make you wince and perfect for smothering in butter!
To start, I opted for the spiced Cornish crab on toasted sourdough with guacamole and lemon vinaigrette, while my guest began with the crispy duck salad, with toasted cashews, watermelon, beansprouts and pickled ginger. Both were good portions, more in the bistro style than fine dining, but in line with the feel of a gentlemen’s club with classic people-pleasing dishes. My main course continued the fishy theme, a fillet of East Coast cod, pan fried and served with garden peas and smoked pancetta, while my guest selected another feathered option in the cornfed chicken breast, roasted and served with crispy pancetta, crushed new potatoes (which turned out to have been crushed so far as to be more of a mash) and sweetcorn puree. We felt that all the dishes might have benefitted from more seasoning – it’s rare to have to salt a restaurant dish – and the flavours were more subtle than the hearty menu might have suggested, but my cod had the perfect texture and the jus with the chicken was glossy and plentiful.
We chose a bottle of Sokol Blosser Pinot Gris 2017 from Oregon to accompany the meal, which had a pear and tropical nose and balanced, floral and green fruit favours. Definitely a wine I would recommend with spicy food and on its own. The star of the meal was definitely the dessert, with both of us choosing the pineapple carpaccio with chilli and lime, served with coconut sorbet. The sorbet was creamy and sweet enough to offset the tangy sauce on the pineapple. At the end of dinner, it was a delight to be able to jump into the lift and be reclining in our room almost immediately, lazy as we are! Even lazier, the clock had barely made one full circuit before we were back to tuck into breakfast. Once again, all the classic breakfast options are available and the charm of The Dining Room puts a smile on one’s face first thing in the morning!
Overall, The Guardsman Hotel offers a quintessential London hotel experience without some of the stuffiness that lingers in some of the older establishments. As the new kid on the block, a lot of thought has gone into technological features and a level of service that will make a guest’s stay go by without a hitch. The location is exceptional, whether you are visiting London to enjoy the sights, the shopping or for business. In the wake of COVID, muscling in on the London hotel scene can’t be the easiest thing to do, but The Guardsman Hotel is certainly on the right track to becoming an institution in its own right.
The Guardsman Hotel
1 Vandon Street
London SW1H 0AH