The Best Room At...Brown's Hotel
Our column "The Best Room At" offers a glimpse inside some of the most charming, luxurious, and iconic properties around the world.
If a quintessential English hotel is what you're looking for in London, you'd be hard-pressed to find a better option than Brown's. The Mayfair institution was London's first hotel, dating all the way back to 1837, but the property, which is now owned by Rocco Forte, don't rest on its classic pedigree.
It's not hard to understand why guests ranging from royals (Queen Victoria was known to come for tea) to politicians, (Theodore Roosevelt for example), to authors (everyone from Agatha Christie to Stephen King), have been known to stay here while visiting the British capital.
Service is exceptional, the accommodations are stylish and roomy, and the restaurant, Beck at Brown's is a real highlight. (Order the fagottelli alla carbonara for a perfect bite of food). Not to mention, the hotel is within easy walking distance the shopping on Bond St. and popular sights like the Palace of Westminster and St. James's Park.
Brown's has a number of impressive suites, but the Kipling, named for yet another literary icon, is the best at the hotel. Here, Stuart Johnson, the managing director of Brown's, gives the inside scoop.
Beck at Brown’s Hotel
Which room is the best at Brown’s?
We created the Kipling Suite a few years ago. It's the largest suite in the hotel, and has had so many plaudits because of its layout, with a wonderful entrance hall, drawing room, and bedroom with a fabulous walk-in wardrobe. You could have a party in every room and not feel like you were cramped.
We’re very fortunate because Olga Polizzi, Sir Rocco’s sister, who is in charge of all the interior design within Rocco Forte, actually does all the interior design at Brown’s personally. So within the Kipling Suite, she very much focused on using products that are quintessentially English.
For example, the wallpaper is hand-painted English wallpaper, and people often say that walking into the suite is like walking into a wonderful home where artifacts have been chosen and positioned by the owner. Not to mention it has floor-to-ceiling windows in every single room and is flooded in natural light. I’m biased but I think it’s the most beautiful suite.
Why is it called the Kipling Suite?
Rudyard Kipling wrote The Jungle Book while he was staying at Brown’s, and there is a letter that he wrote from Brown’s confirming to his colleague that he was indeed at the hotel, and that the novel was completed. In general Brown's has had a great affinity with authors over the years.
The letter Rudyard Kipling wrote while staying at Brown’s.
What’s the average nightly rate?
How would you describe your typical guest at the hotel?
I think the most wonderful thing about Brown’s is that we are fortunate to welcome guests from different walks of life, and from many countries around the world. We have young and old guests, and you can go into the bar, and very often you’ll find people in polo shirts and jeans next to someone wearing a three-piece suit with a gold watch.
We are a hotel that is a safe bet; we have a reputation that we maintain; and we have a very well-focused team who can cater and respond to a huge number of different cultures and requests.
What’s one local recommendation you guys first-time visitors?
I think London is so eclectic in its offerings. Buckingham Palace is close by. The Palace of Westminster, Parliament Square, Downing Street, they’re all within easy walking distance. And of course, the biggest complaint that we have is that we’re too close to the shopping on Bond Street. [laughs]
The hallway of the Kipling Suite.
What’s your favorite part of the hotel?
I have two favorite parts, One is the Donovan Bar because I do enjoy my drink. And the other is actually the ability to stand in the front hall and welcome guests—smile, direct them, help them, and feel a part of their lives. A phrase that I use quite a lot is that as a hotelier, the teams are privileged of be part of such a private occasion. So, we are very lucky to be allowed into your lives. And that is our raison d'être. We want to add to the guests' visit to ensure that we have exceeded their expectations.
Can you share an interesting tidbit about the hotel's history or the room’s history?
I think being the very first hotel in London is a huge benchmark. We’ve been lucky to welcome such a wide range of literary, and important people over the years.
For example, Theodore Roosevelt stayed at Brown’s before marrying Edith Kermit Carow, and we have their wedding certificate, which hangs in the reception area. Agatha Christie was another very frequent visitor. She based her novel Bertram's Hotel on Brown’s. The exiled King of Greece spent the first 11 years of his exile at Brown’s, and we have a suite named after him called the Hellenic Suite. And the first telephone call in the United Kingdom was made from Brown’s by Sir Alexander Graham Bell.
Queen Victoria also used to come and have afternoon tea at Brown's. In the tea room, we actually pay tribute to her and her visits with a Victorian sponge cake.
BOOK NOW Brown's Hotel
This story originally appeared on Townandcountrymag.com.
* Minor edits have been made by the Townandcountry.ph editors.