A beacon of clubby old-school style, the Chesterfield is a cherished home away from home for its loyal regulars. A central Mayfair location, sumptuous bedrooms, and the “best Dover Sole in London” keep travellers coming back for more.
Words Patrick Hamilton Courtney
Red Carnation Hotels are renowned for their exceptional service. Despite being a 17 property, international hospitality group, a sense of familiarity remains. You’ll find founder Bea Tollman’s photograph in hotel literature, her recipes on the menus, and her own brand of personalised service throughout.
The first of the hotels in this collection, the Chesterfield, has had over thirty years to fine tune its luxurious boutique-y offering. While the hotel only has four stars, second-rate it certainly is not.
Situated in a sweet spot between Berkeley Square and Curzon Street, the hotel’s enviable setting is hard to beat. It attracts a varied clientele, who no doubt appreciate the traditional, rather old-fashioned vibe. Something that’s largely been ironed out of the slick luxury sector. The Chesterfield is a perfectly charming Mayfair hub.
Doormen in top hats welcome guests into a grand hotel lobby in miniature that’s all wood panelling, marble floors, and chesterfield sofas. This theme continues throughout the hotel, as do the antique oil paintings of dogs. The hotel has a restaurant, bar, and library. Afternoon tea is served in a light-filled conservatory and, until November 2017, is Willy Wonka themed. Although there are no wellbeing facilities, the hotel can arrange gym access and organise in-room spa therapies.
There are 107 bedrooms in total, including 13 suites. All are individually designed using quality fabrics and hand-sourced furniture. The décor takes inspiration from the smart tailoring of Saville Row. The pretty florals of an English country garden, or even an exotic safari, reflecting the founder’s South African roots. Guests can request specific rooms or styles at the time of booking, which the hotel will strive to make available. Bathrooms are small but well formed, and stocked with Elemis products.
Butlers Restaurant is an antidote to the haute cuisine that dominates Mayfair’s food scene. The attractive dining room is complete with white linen table cloths, red velvet chairs, and walls lined in oak. The menu is large, and comprises several of Bea’s signature dishes such as chicken noodle soup, Cobb salad, and honeycomb ice cream.
We started with butter soft H. Forman smoked salmon, elaborately prepared tableside, and Orkney scallops. Both were excellent. There are tempting options for the main course. These included roast of the day, Everleigh wild mallard, and Salisbury venison, but the star dish is the restaurant’s signature Dover Sole. Prepared either grilled or Meunière and deboned at the table, it is widely considered the best in London.
The food is not modern, nor inventive. A waiter described sticky toffee pudding and vanilla ice cream as a “quite unique” combination. But what it lacks in innovation it makes up for in comfort. It’s been a long time since I’ve dined in an elegant restaurant on proper English food. No pickled endive, living sprouts, or oyster foam in sight. Just classic, well executed, English dishes served with the upmost of care.
The restaurant also provides the hotel’s lavish breakfast, consisting of a full continental buffet and hot a la carte menu.
The Terrace Bar is reminiscent of those on Pall Mall, but steps into modernity with its molecular cocktail menu. Curiously displayed drinks, such as an Amaretto Sour encased in a bubble or an Eton Mess cocktail presented with a hammer, will delight. Make sure to get there before 11pm as they stop making these complicated drinks long before closing time. Alternatively, the bar serves classic cocktails, wines, spirits, and an extensive gin & tonic menu.
Rooms from £195 per night.