Tucked away in the beautiful Notting Hill section of London lies a jewel of a hotel, and what you might find a surprisingly child-friendly place to stay. The Hempel is a breath of fresh air for any family wanting a bit of an escape from the excitement and business of London. Instead of staying in a typical London hotel and getting very little space for your money, The Hempel offers full-size apartments with plenty of space for everyone to spread out and relax after exploring the city. Best of all, it’s located right next to Hyde Park and Notting Hill and is a hop, skip and jump from some of the best spots for families in London.
When we arrived at The Hempel, it was late at night, but as we drove into the quaint neighborhood, we were all instantly enraptured. Facing a beautiful English garden or the “Zen Garden” (that was actually featured in one of my favorite movies “Notting Hill” with Julia Roberts and Hugh Grant), the hotel has a lobby is likely to put you in a zen state as soon as you walk in. It was made with the most neutral colors and an eye for relaxation. It’s got minimalist decor and a glowing fireplace that invited my daughter as soon as she walked in. The staff offered us welcome tea or coffee and graciously helped us to our room, which was surprisingly across the street, with beautiful views of the park in a white Georgian building.
The Hempel comprises fifty individually designed guest rooms, suites and apartments each in its own minimalist style. We stayed in one of their apartments. It may be old outside but the inside is completely new and modern. Inspired by the essence of modern and ancient travel, the unique atmosphere of The Hempel achieves balance and harmony through the use of warm lighting and natural materials, associated with the traditional Zen philosophy of Earth, Wood, Metal, Fire and Water. It’s not cluttered and has a warm palette.
The effect is one of tranquility, even for my kids. Their beds were positioned by enormous windows with views of the park in the main sitting room, which also has a big sofa and coffee table. They were really comfortable and made full use of the flat screen TV in the main space, watching “Cupcake Wars” on the Food Network, their latest addiction since we’ve been on holiday. The free Wifi was definitely a perk, after being charged 6 pounds an hour at another boutique hotel on this trip.
The bathroom and cupboards are hidden behind the carefully painted walls. The kitchen is compact but contains all the amenities you need to feed a family, including a full-size refrigerator. I love the decor, as a matter of fact, I’d like to decorate my house the same way.
In the morning, we headed to No. 35 Restaurant, headed up by Head Chef, Michael Carter, who works with a seasonal menu offering the best of British and European ingredients – all borne from handpicked, independent suppliers. I had kipper, whilst the kids had cereal, eggs, toast, hot chocolate and juice. My shameful picky eaters could have had such choice from the English delicacies being offered.
From the hotel, we walked directly to Hyde Park to Princess Diana’s Memorial Playground and then to Kensington Palace. Straight across the park is the Science Museum, the Victoria & Albert Museum, the Natural History Museum, shopping in Notting Hill, Harrods in Knightsbridge, just to name a few places nearby. After a day of being out and about, we ventured back for snacks and drinks at the bar, where we got lovely tapas and were able to relax. The hotel really has a zen feeling that stays with you during your stay.
If you’re heading to London anytime soon, check out The Hempel’s web site for the best rates at www.the-hempel.co.uk. The hotel is located at 31-35 Craven Hill Gardens, Bayswater, London, W2 3EA.