Russell Square admittedly is a bit of an odd spot on the tube map. Running on the Piccadilly line between Holborn and King’s Cross it’s not somewhere I would necessarily stop.
But the arrival of the Kimpton Fitzroy on London’s five-star hotel scene in 2018 changed all that for me.
If you haven’t been, a trip to this jewel box of a place is highly recommended.
From the outside, the frappe latte-hued Grade II-listed building, right on the leafy surrounds of Russell Square park and around the corner from the tube, makes for a fantastic site.
It was originally built in 1898 by renowned architect Charles Fitzroy Doll – who also designed the dining room on the RMS Titanic – and following years of closure it takes you back to the property’s glory day.
On stepping inside the place, the attention to detail continues to tantalise the senses.
Think low lighting, twinkling mosaic and a sense of grandeur in the form of golden hues and double-height ceilings framed by yawning pillars.
I checked into the 334-room venue on a Monday evening and was directed to room 302 – a one-bedroom suite.
If you’re on a working vacation/staycation these rooms are perfect as they come with adjoining living rooms-cum-office spaces decked out with Apple TVs, Nespresso coffee machines, and mini-fridges stocked with water.
Other features of the 46 sq m pad include mood-boosting views of Russell Square, a king-size bed, and a chic marble bathroom complete with a waterfall shower, double sinks, a seductive roll top bath and toiletries from acclaimed perfume designer Azzi Glasser.
I spent the afternoon working from the room and come 5 o’clock I ventured down to Burr & Co – an all-day coffee / café space – to join the free social hour for hotel guests complete with complimentary wine, beer and soft drinks.
I was alone but didn’t feel awkward perched in a corner booth. I stayed for half a glass of red and then ventured back up to my room to get ready for dinner.
The top on-site dining venue that evening – Galvin Bar & Grill – was closed for a private party (earlier that day I’d spotted one of the city’s top celebrity photographers wandering around) so I agreed to meet a friend in the downstairs bar for a couple of cocktails and nibbles.
Fitz’s is a place I would describe as a boudoir bar. It’s a sultry space, decked out with an eye-catching disco ball, dark licks of paint, eclectic wall hangings and mixologists who know what they’re doing.
The menu is inventive and fun – the night I was there the cocktail menu was devised around star signs – but I went off-piste and opted for an Alaskan martini which was something I had recently been introduced you (a heady blend of vodka and chartreuse instead of vermouth) and the bartender willingly obliged.
When my friend arrived we also dipped into the bar menu for a few starters. The bao buns were a top choice along with the calamari but if you’re merely popping in for a drink, the spicy nut selection is one of the best with-drink nibbles in town.
After dinner that evening I returned to my suite and slept like a dream. The only minor headache was that I managed to flood the shower as the drainage wasn’t working too well and this ran through to the rest of the bathroom.
I was informed, when I checked in, the basement gym was also closed due to flooding issues – something that comes with the territory when it comes to old buildings – so I didn’t worry too much.
I generally work out before breakfast and I was offered free access to Gym Box around the corner due to the flooding but I opted to do 6 laps of Russell Square park instead which equated to just under 5km.
Breakfast took place in the Galvin Bar & Grill which had been closed the night before.
This restaurant has changed from its first guise as a Wes Anderson-esque seafood venue but it still makes for a grand space although a little less cosy than I remembered.
The breakfast buffet has a great spread of delights, from fresh smoothies to muesli, and I opted for the avocado on toast to top it off from the a la carte menu.
Come midday it was time to check out.
The Kimpton Fitzroy is a hard beast to part ways with.
Like a good lover, it is somewhere that will beckon you back for more.