Manhattan style with a London edge is how the Urban Villa website describes the suites in its West London hotel. The hotel aims to be super modern and well connected – with 1TB WiFi speeds its internet is faster than any other London hotel – but the rooms are adorned with furniture, soft furnishings and art that has been designed or made in London. The art is from the Lazarides Gallery – home to Banksy and other modern artists – and evident from the moment you pass through the hotel entrance and are greeted by a huge ‘Made in Brentford’ graffiti sign.
The location, just off the bustling M4, means that it’s ideal for business travellers passing through Heathrow but it’s also popular with families well-placed for the museums of South Kensington and with couples wanting a romantic retreat in one of the hotel’s tallest rooms which have views over the capital city.
The height is the first thing I noticed about the building. With its prepossessing, ultra-modern silver panels climbing up 20 storeys, there is a reason locals call this the Brentford Shard. From the outside, it doesn’t scream ‘hotel’, more ultra-luxe skyscraper, but from the moment you pass through the automatic doors and you’re confronted with a bright and modern reception area bathed in natural light from the floor to ceiling windows around the lobby, you start to relax.
The reception area is designed to be a bar, shop and check-in place all in one so you can order a Gin and Tonic and snacks while you are welcomed to the hotel and presented with your key cards.
A lot of effort has gone into the design of the lobby with lots of breakout areas and soft, sumptuous and ergonomic chairs that look straight out of the pages of a glossy interiors magazine. You can tell a lot about a hotel, or indeed a café, by the magazines they leave out for guests to read. On the communal tables at Urban Villa, which are often occupied by hip looking freelance workers with their iMacs, you’ll find several copies of Monocle magazine and The Times newspaper. It suggests highbrow but also creative.
With black marble bathrooms, wrap around balconies spanning the length of the room and a room service menu that includes a long list of artisan gins, the rooms have everything the tired traveller needs to recover after a hectic day in the capital city so they can wake up recharged and ready to make the most of the capital.
London hotel rooms are not known for their space, so I was pretty surprised (in a good way) by the layout of the rooms. As you open the door, you get a bit of a hallway area before walking into the main bedroom. We stayed in a studio villa, which is one of the smallest rooms, and that had a separate kitchen and dining area as well as the bed.
The king size bed is everything you would expect and more. The mattresses have been made bespoke for the hotel so that they contain just the right amount of memory foam. It is soft but you feel supported. Do not make the mistake of testing the bed before you do anything else or you will not be able to motivate yourself to get out. The linen was super clean and fresh and felt of a high quality. When the sheets are thick and the towels are thick you can tell that the hotel has thought about every last finish.
Talking of towels, the bathroom looks like its straight out of a design showroom. It’s sleek, black and shiny with spotlights on the ceiling and small lights coming out of the bath. However, it is the shower products, shampoo, conditioner, hand wash and moisturiser that show that the hotel cares about the comfort of its guests. There’s Rum handwash and Rum body lotion, Peppermint shampoo and Cilantro conditioner made by Malin + Goetz. This is a niche New York brand infused with fresh ingredients while also being free from chemicals so it’s suitable for all skin types. It’s rare to find a skincare brand suitable for sensitive skin that has such an intense smell, enveloping the bathroom to refresh body and mind. I was tempted to buy some bottles to take home from the hotel shop but when I went downstairs again I saw the drinks menu and deciding on a gin from the impressive gin menu.
If you are a gin lover like me, you will know that what contributes to the taste is the botanicals used in the fermenting process. The smaller the production method, the more experimental it can be with botanicals. Urban Villa stocks Silent Pool which uses water from a well on-site at their Surrey distillery and it serves Opihr, a spicy mix of cubeb from Malaysia, black pepper and Cardamom from India and cumin from Turkey. You will find the industrial tasting Thomas Dakin gin from Manchester, Slingsbury Rhubarb gin made in Harrogate and Williams Seville Orange gin from Herefordshire. It really was difficult looking at the menu deciding what gin cocktail to go for!
By now, I’ve learned that Urban Villa has considered all the small details and the same is true of their gins. They’re not just poured into a glass and garnished with ice and a slice. They’re poured into balloon glasses, big fishbowl size, and garnished with ingredients to compliment the botanicals in the gin. Seville Orange gin comes with almonds and strawberries – it’s like a refreshing desert in a glass – and Slingsbury Rhubarb is served up with apple slices and cloves – tasting like a liquid version of those rhubarb and custard sweets that you buy in quarters from old fashioned sweet shops.
Having worked out an appetite, the options for dinner was one of the area’s many gastro pubs for good old fashioned hearty food or a takeaway eaten on the balcony of our room. We went for the second option as the room was too cosy and modern to leave. Having the luxury of your own kitchen also gives you the option to go self-catering and with a Sainburys’ local a stones through away it is ideal if you are someone looking to cook your own meal. It’s important that a hotel room feels like a home away from home and I certainly felt very relaxed and comfortable during my stay.
The balcony spans the length of the room and it is unusual in that it is fully encased by glass so that it is not disturbed by rain or cold weather, but the floor to ceiling 360 degree windows make it feel like you could be outside. At night, you can look down on the lights of the city below you, to appreciate the buzzing city that is London. When staying at The Urban Villa you can eat and drink at your own pace without being disturbed in any way, so it is nice to come in simply switch on the TV and start to wind down.
Another detail I liked was that there are instructions how to connect your phone and tablet to the room’s smart TV so that you can use your Netflix of Sky Now accounts to watch what you fancy. There are no annoying charges for DVDs – you can choose how you want to wind down before bed and it’s simple to set up.
Waking to blue skies the following morning we skipped the gym, which has everything you need to keep fit in the capital, in favour of a continental breakfast. We chose from pastries, croissants and muffins with fresh orange juices, fruit smoothies and freshly roasted coffee.
You might not immediately think about staying in Brentford as a base for a trip to the capital but Urban Villa has converted me. It’s well connected to Waterloo and a short walk from the tubes in Ealing or you can bring your car and park it in Urban Villa’s own Underground car park. Featuring more space and greater attention to detail than central London hotels, guests get a lot more out of their stay in the big smoke by being able to completely unwind and pamper themselves at the end of a long day. Plus the views over London from the balconies at night are magical.
Urban Villa Hotel
Kew Eye Tower
GWQ Development, Ealing Road