Welcome to the jungle, the song goes… but I don’t think Axel Rose was thinking about Kensington when he wrote it. The Hux Hotel, however, has wholeheartedly embraced the interior design concept of bringing the outside in and Axel’s opening line is fitting, despite its city-centre position opposite the South Western corner of London’s Kensington Gardens. After entering the property through its very discreet doorway, one mounts a narrow staircase and emerges into a brightly jewel-toned reception-cum-bar, festooned with hanging baskets and furnished with the kind of sofas that swallow you whole. The bar and coffee tables have a distinct art deco twist and the deep blue walls immediately put me in mind of a bohemian courtyard bar in Morocco. A couple of retro movie posters in the bar and stairwell recall the eclectic and self-aware residences of affluent students of cinema, perfect for a quirky boutique hotel in Kensington.
If you’ve been, either to stay overnight or to hear some of the Hux Hotel’s live music in the bar, you will realise I’ve missed something from my description of the décor. An unusual and unmissable thing. Guys, we need to talk about the taxidermy…
I was fascinated by death as a teenage Goth and would have loved to own a few pieces of taxidermy (preferably antique Victorian, even better if they’d been owned by someone prominent from the Society of Psychical Research). Now in my mid – cough, late – thirties, the sheer number of pieces at the Hux is a little surprising. I haven’t seen such a collection outside of a museum of natural history. I asked if they had names and was introduced to Patrick the peacock, sitting atop the reception desk, wearing beaded bracelets around his neck, with his magnificent tail feathers cascading all the way to the floor. There was Michael, the monkey with the thousand yard stare, swinging from the ceiling in the bar amid the hanging plants. Flipper the penguin was on the bar and Veronica the crow sat on the upright piano. A flamingo, parakeets and another penguin. My attention was directed to the stairwell where a preserved animal of significant size was positioned; no spoilers, if you want to see, go and take a look for yourself. If you’re ethically opposed to dead animals on display, this isn’t the hotel for you.
Arriving upstairs on the slowest lift in existence (I used it once, not knowing any better, then my impatience forced me to use the stairs), I arrived at my room. The walls were a rich teal and there was a big leafy plant potted in the corner. A suspended ceiling, surrounded by lights, created a cosy warmth and printed cushions and pictures continued the jungle theme, which was a big change from the way so many London hotels opt for safe combinations of neutral and white tones in their décor. The bathroom contained all the necessary items and some rather delicious toiletries, but there was not a great deal of storage if you were thinking of a longer stay, either in the bathroom or in the room itself. My friend noted that this had something of New York about it. I assume he meant the bold use of colour and sleek style, as well as the way that New York hotels seem to provide insufficient storage because the city moves so fast they assume you’ll never have time to unpack anyway. The room also provided an oblique view of the corner of Kensington Gardens and there was plenty of room to relax while preparing to explore the area.
If you venture out of the Hux Hotel, you have the luxury and boutique shops of Kensington and Knightsbridge, including Harrods, within easy walking distance. The Royal Albert Hall, Kensington Gardens and several of London’s most prestigious museums (Natural History, Science, V&A) are almost on the doorstep. Inside the hotel, the bar is a lovely place while away an evening if you don’t fancy venturing out; I managed to catch some excellent live music, part of the Hux at Eight sessions, when I stayed – a pianist and singer with the smoothest voice, accompanied by a drummer. The mood was really relaxed and intimate, but it was the perfect environment for a chat and a couple of cocktails, definitely worth a visit if you’re looking for somewhere to round off an evening outing.
After an incredibly comfortable sleep, there were some issues with the breakfast and lack of communication between staff members which meant that the options I had been told were available weren’t and I was served a full English without being given any warning or option to refuse, only to be told it was the only option. Although staff were very apologetic, I am not sure a vegetarian or vegan would have been pleased to be served a full English, nor was I asked about allergies at any point. I think this is just ironing out the creases as we get back to business after Covid, but I still ended up at Ole and Steen for the croissant I wanted, so make sure you check what’s available in the next few months, rather than taking your cue from the website.
The Hux Hotel is a quirky establishment that has high design aspirations and manages to capture a kind of lively, cosmopolitan, London chic with its unique combination of bold, opulent colours and comfortably furnished rooms. The hotel is good value, especially considering its location, and it is a treat to have some live entertainment with a few drinks, then only have to negotiate the stairs to arrive back at your sumptuous bedroom. If you are looking for a relaxed, vibrant and exotically decorated base to explore London, the Hux Hotel is a definite contender!
The Hux Hotel
9 Kensington High Street
London W8 5NP