After my Fitzroy London visit, I was slightly disappointed. And it wasn’t really them, it was me. My earlier visits to the Kimpton De Witt in Amsterdam, my #fanboying of their smart acts of hospitality and my anticipation based on other people’s visits and the stories I had heard made my expectations so high, I could only be disappointed. And so that was exactly what happened. So here’s my review of the Kimpton Fitzroy in London.

The Kimpton Fitzroy hotel in London

A rush of excitement went through many hardcore travelers (the travelers’ tribe) when it was announced that IHG had bought the Principal chain of hotels and that one of the hotels would be turned into a new Kimpton, the second Kimpton hotel of Europe (after the Kimpton De Witt in Amsterdam).

And it really doesn’t disappoint.

When entering the hotel, you instantly get captured by the sense of style, luxury and history which is trademark for Kimpton’s properties and that does right to the Fitzroy’s rich history.

The Hotel Russell (which was the original name) was built in 1898 by the architect Charles Fitzroy Doll (hence the recent renaming from Pincipal to Fitzroy) and opened in 1900. It is distinctively clad in decorative thé-au-lait (“tea with milk”) terracotta and was based on the Château de Madrid on the Bois de Boulogne in Paris. Its restaurant, which was named after the architect but is now called Neptune, is said to be almost identical to the RMS Titanic’s dining room which he also designed. Also in the hotel is ‘Lucky George’, a bronze dragon on the second floor stairs (unfortunately, I only read about this later – I really want to see that some day). An identical copy was on the Titanic.

Set on Russell Square within an iconic Grade II listed heritage building dating back to 1898 (!), Fitzroy London features 334 luxurious rooms and suites, a large ballroom, various restaurants and bars, modern meeting rooms and a 24-hour fitness cente.

The Kimpton Fitzroy has several bars of restaurants (a bit more on that later):

  • The splendid interior courtyard is named the Palm Court and provides a peaceful oasis away from the hustle and bustle of central London.
  • Neptune restaurant offers breakfast, lunch and dinner with a range of modern seafood dishes courtesy of duo Brett Redman and Margaret Crow in a stylish, yet relaxed environment.
  • The 1920’s inspired Fitz’s is the spot to enjoy an evening cocktail.
  • Burr & Co. coffee house awaits guests and locals throughout the day.

Location of the Kimpton Fitzroy hotel in London 9/10

The hotel is located steps away from The British Museum, Lambs Conduit street and London’s West End, making Kimpton Fitzroy London the perfect base from which to explore all that the British capital has to offer.

I just loved the fact the hotel was pretty much next to the Russel Square Underground station which has a direct connection to London Heathrow Airport – about 45 minutes with the Underground, without the need of transferring to other lines – extremely convenient.

Rooms at the Kimpton Fitzroy hotel in London 7,5/10

I was a bit disappointed in the hotel rooms to be honest.

Yes, it was clean.

Yes, the bed was great. As well as the bed linnen.

The bathroom is beautiful.

But small. With not too much attention for detail, compared to other luxury properties. The closet was a standalone one, in contrast to the beautifully crafted built-in closets I was used at the Kimpton De Witt or -even more impressive- at the 1898 The Post in Gent. Some menus and notes in the bathroom were folded or cracked … just not what I had expected.

It wasn’t bad, but certainly not perfect.

Kimpton promotes its rooms as “The bedrooms are decorated with Kimpton’s bold and playful edge and include unexpected touches such as unique, contemporary artwork and vibrant floral cushions, featuring a bespoke design by British textile artist Kit Miles” … it certainly didn’t live up to the hype.

Service at the Kimpton Fitzroy hotel in London 9/10

Service was amazing. From the friendly staff at the door to the reception desk and from the staff I would occasionally meet to the people working at the Neptune restaurant.

On top of that, as I highlighted in a separate post dedicated to the remarkable acts of hospitality at the Kimpton hotel chain, Kimpton standard has some interventions that make the stay extra pleasurable: from the ‘raid the bar’ 15 GBP bar credit to the social hour (free stories and champagne) and of course the secret password (which in my case was ‘Chilled to perfection’).

The way the hyper-professional and charming front desk employee stopped, looked at me when I said ‘Chilled to perfection’, smiled at me and replied ‘Ah yes, sir, you know about ‘Chilled to perfection’‘ would make even the most cold-hearted, seasoned travelers feel part of a secret society of bad-ass world travelers (next level travelers’ tribe) and – meanwhile- fall madly in love with her. It almost made me feel ashamed of myself for what a sucker I was for just a simple hospitality ‘trick’. But man, so well executed.

Getting stuff done a the Kimpton Fitzroy hotel in London 7/10

Burr & Co laptops away
Burr & Co laptops away

So, this is a rather tricky one. The Burr & Co cafe is actually a really really nice place to get some work done – getting some decent coffee and getting some work done in one of the convenient nooks or on one of the large tables.

But … at 18h30, Burr & Co has the rule you have to stow away your laptops. And that s*cks. The two alternative bars aren’t as convenient to get some work done.

Breakfast at the Kimpton Fitzroy hotel in London 7/10

I made a judgement error in choosing the Neptune restaurant for my breakfast (as one of the staff had told me it was the place for a la carte breakfast). It just wasn’t up to Kimpton standards. It wasn’t bad (and actually I really really liked the pour over coffee), but their oatmeal with banana and brown sugar was well, just oatmeal with banana and brown sugar, their staff was good, but not excellent, the atmosphere was ok, but not super fancy, cozy or excellent and … well, that pretty much was the red thread throughout all of the experience in Neptune.

Nowhere near the experience I had with the Kimpton De Witt in Amsterdam, the amazing food and service I had in the One Shot Fortuny in Madrid or the almost art-like rendition of oatmeal and fruit salad that I was used to at the QO hotel in Amsterdam.

In hindsight, I should have chosen Burr & Co as my place for breakfast in the Fitzroy (which I did on my next stay).

Breakfast table for early risers at Kimpton Fitzroy
Breakfast table for early risers at Kimpton Fitzroy

Finally, for early risers (when the breakfast hasn’t opened yet), there is a special room with coffee and some croissants.

My stay at the Kimpton Fitzroy hotel in London 8/10

Sorry, Kimpton, it’s not you, it’s definitely me. I had expected that my stay at the hotel would be the cherry on the cake of a year full of already remarkable luxury hotel nights. But it just wasn’t. Although the experience was amazing, especially the breakfast and the rooms did not live up to my high expectations.

I paid approximately 230 GBP for a one-night stay.

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