“Have you been here before?” enquired waitress Amanda of your correspondent. “Yes, a long time ago,” I boldly smiled, hoping to draw attention down from sleep bleared eyes. “I last stayed when I was 10 in fact.” “Yes, I remember you,” came her blithe response, causing me to inelegantly choke on my hot toast triangle, its every crumb smoothed by perky homemade marmalade…
London’s Cavendish hotel hums like an air-conditioned liner. Once run by Trust House Forte, the mid 1960s tower is now under the tenure of Ellerman Investments (who also own The Ritz). ‘The only thing we knowingly overlook is London’ is the motto, etched on ‘please do not disturb’ signs. The designer’s silvery palette complements the jumbled, grey vista. From the terrace of my two-room, fifteenth floor penthouse, its sliding doors locked against suiciders, I played spot the cranes. On opening, a night here cost £12; today you must multiply that figure by 26.
The inventory is a lexicon of luxury, incorporating a duo of plasmas operated by such intricate remotes that I gave up deciphering them, a Bose Acoustic Wave which looks like an 1970s alarm clock but sounds much better, walk in, drip out waterfall shower and fragranced toiletries mixed by the blind at Taylor of Bond Street. There is also a psychiatrists style black couch which made me nervous, Edwardian prints of austere but sartorially smashing gents and whether wittily intended or not, a verdantly healthy money plant. Marked as ‘complimentary coffee making facilities’, I alas dared not remove the matt black Nespresso maker, fuelled by fair-trade beans. Throughout, floors are no doubt reinforced to cope with the bulk of purchases foraged from surrounding shops in des res streets.
Referring to the enticing scent of rain on dry earth, ‘Petrichor’ is the hotel’s restaurant where chef, Nitin Padwal and brigade strive towards the laudable but virtually impossible aim of harnessing 100% sustainable ingredients. Indeed, despite a harsh stone faced facade and concrete frame, the hotel holds numerous awards for its green inclinations, from provision of water powered calculators to low energy lightbulbs and ‘eco friendly chemicals’.
Taken in fortunate view of Fortnum & Mason’s tea court where signs of anarchy have been eradicated, my breakfast comprised perfectly poached pearly haddock with zippy hollandaise and lovingly coddled, freedom eggs which willingly burst at a mere fork’s prod. This was thoroughly rinsed by such a volume of tea that I caught myself checking Amanda’s badge didn’t really read ‘Mrs. Doyle’.
After digesting the contents of the complementary Telegraph (which Ellerman also own) I prepared to stride into the day in a less shifty looking and boozily sodden manner than when I entered the hotel’s sliding doors just hours before. In fact, I would even go so far as to say I felt as rested and upbeat as a ten year-old.
As I passed her, more clearly deciphered than the hubbub of foreign voices, the hostess at the lectern sounded an almost Dick van Dyke caricature as she sing-sang: ‘Keep out of the rain, sir, and don’t forget your brolly!’ This caused me pause for thought. Although The Cavendish’s staff could be called a little over eager, the overall effect positively converts this fairly large hotel of 252 rooms and suites into a much smaller seeming, personable space.
I only wonder whether Amanda will recognise me in another 21 years…
The Cavendish, 81 Jermyn Street, London SW1Y 6JF, Tel: +44 20 7930 2111
Total recall at the Cavendish
The life of a Prodigal correspondent is not an easy one. Our man Douglas Blyde recently had to take some well deserved R&R at The Cavendish in Mayfair where, to his immense surprise, the staff think he hasn’t aged much since he was 10.
Our resident foodie is a former documentary man and utterly gripped by gastronomy: driven by a love of good taste and fascinated by that almost nocturnal, nervously energetic breed known as chefs. He longs, one day, to own a pristine restaurant, boutique hotel, almost mythically revered vineyard and a vast chocolate factory…
Contact the author