You remember my best amigo Smithers the Pug, right? He’s no service dog, or sheepdog herding livestock to help a farmer make his living, but he is a hard-working pup all the same. Well, of sorts… The Principal London recently invited Smithers, and his humans to stay at their beautiful, dog-friendly, five-star hotel in Bloomsbury.
After a two-year renovation costing £85m, the hotel opened its doors to the public in April this year. The restoration project pays homage to the building’s illustrious history and has perfectly preserved beautiful facades, whilst seamlessly integrating modern technologies for guests to enjoy. It was a cold and wet evening when we arrived. Escaping the pouring rain, we entered the striking Grade II listed red-bricked Victorian building and crossed the ornate mosaic floor with marble-columned foyer where we were warmly welcomed by the reception staff. An attentive colleague wearing a smart stylish uniform stepped out from behind the counter, “and this must be Smithers?” Well, it would seem he required no introduction!
The hotel is located in Central London on the edge of the Square Mile near the City’s edge. It’s perfectly situated by popular tourist attractions including The British Museum and London’s busy shopping mecca, Oxford Street. It’s a great option for business and leisure travellers (especially ones with pups just like Smithers) alike.
Overlooking Russell Square, an inner-city oasis with manicured lawns, the hotel was originally completed in 1898. The design of the picturesque property was based on the 16thcentury Château de Madrid in Paris, and the exterior of the hotel features distinctive thé-au-lait (‘tea with milk’) terracotta.
Housing 334 tastefully decorated bedrooms designed by Tara Bernerd, across eight floors, the hotel has a wonderful modern chic feel, crossed with a homely country vibe. You will find a contemporary palette of greys, whites and greens, and opulent fabrics including crushed velvet, with Victorian accents such as tasselled red bell-pulls at every bedroom door. It is nothing short of gorgeous.
We were personally escorted from reception to our room – one of the hotels 39 luxurious suites, located on the first floor overlooking leafy Russell Square below. Now, I have seen some hotel rooms in my time, but I can honestly say, hand on heart, that this room was without a doubt the most incredible room that we have ever stayed in. They sure know how to look after their furry friends! 😉 Upon entry was a hallway with a spacious wardrobe (complete with iron and ironing board, no need to ask). Beyond, large floor to ceiling windows overlook the park below. Our prettily decorated lounge room with large plasma screen television and Victorian fireplace had a sweet welcome note from management and a delicious slice of birthday cake (for me, not for Smithers).
The large bedroom accounted for half the floor space of the room and was probably equivalent to the size of our inner-London apartment. Featuring stylish, modern décor that is elegant yet functional, there was an incredibly large custom made, four-posted bed, and television at the foot of the bed. Beside the bed was a plush cushion for Smithers, and custom food and water bowls. The minibar has all of the standard treats for a fee one would expect to find, as well as a selection of complimentary non-alcoholic beverages (exclusive to the hotel’s suite guests), and a tuck box filled with complimentary snacks including crisps and chocolates etc (the Tuck Boxes can be found in every room!). Smithers also found treats of his own – some tasty Pedigree Dentastix!
The ceramic and marble bathroom was stunning. With an intricately designed heated black and white tiled floor, and a large claw footed bathtub with separate rain shower hammam. The Perfumer’s Story toiletries (by celebrity perfumer Azzi Glasser), were the perfect finishing touch.
As we had Smithers with us, I wasn’t too sure about leaving him alone in the bedroom whilst we popped down to dinner. Whilst the lovely reception and concierge teams were all too happy to pop up and check on him, I wanted to ensure that the evening was as much a treat for him as it was for us. As such, it was for us and it didn’t seem fair to leave him alone.
Prior to our arrival, I had been in touch with The Principal London’svery own dog concierge, Harry, for his suggested dog-friendly dining options in the neighbourhood. Though concierge were very friendly and responsive, their recommendations including J Sheekey (a wonderful seafood and oyster restaurant), Mercato Metropolitano (a trendy, industrial outdoor food court offering everything from artesian French to pizza to kebabs), and M Bar & Grill (which specialises in steak and also offers dogs their own brunch menu), were a little further afield than we had hoped to travel, all requiring a short taxi ride.
It seems that this part of town isn’t yet as dog-friendly as other central suburbs. Hoping for something within walking distance, we tried one of the local pubs. I have to say it was an epic fail. It wasn’t the nicest pub, and we perched awkwardly at a sticky table surrounded by a drunken and lively after-work crowd. It was a mutual agreement to drink our token drink and leave.
There was a momentary pause in the downpour, so we decided to walk back to the hotel letting Smithers stretch his legs. We were a bit disheartened by the lack of dining options for dog owners and their pups, so decided to head back to our beautiful suite and take advantage of the room service. I’m so pleased we did, it was absolutely delicious.
If you are not a dog owner, or you don’t mind having a short break from your pup whilst grabbing some dinner, rest assured that there are some fabulous dining options at the hotel to accommodate your needs. Neptune offers all-day dining. Head chef, Brett Redman, takes an innovative approach to the classic oyster bar where they offer a contemporary British inspired way of serving caviar, swapping traditional blinis for freshly made waffles with house cultured jersey cream! If seafood is not your cup of tea, Brett’s signature wood-fired cooking will ensure you are looked after, with an extensive a la carte menu to choose from.
The gorgeous Palm Court is at the heart of the hotel. The décor is comfortable and inviting and looks like something out of a Ralph Lauren catalogue. Here a delicious afternoon tea is served that is quite reasonably priced. And in the evenings you will find a gin trolley offering guest’s herbal infused cocktails, as well as an extensive champagne list.
Burr & Co. coffee house and bar serves Caravan coffee, tea, pastries and breakfast items. They also offer an informal all-day menu including soups, salads and sandwiches.
Named after the hotels original designer, Charles Fitzroy Doll, Fitz’s cocktail bar is a spectacular and very theatrical, with an amazing glitter ball that hangs from the ceiling. Its opulent interiors feature heavy velvety fabrics, dark wooden panels and original features. It’s the perfect place for a few delicious cocktails from Sean Fennelly’s (who joins from well-known cocktail bar, Milk & Honey), extensive cocktail menu.
We had the most incredible stay at The Principal London and were blown away by the warm and friendly service that we received. The beautiful property’s convenient Central London location makes it perfect to access many of London’s top attractions. Smithers gives it the four paw seal of approval, and we both recommend that you check it out. Rates start from £255 per night, to book your room check out The Principal London’s website for more information.
Until next time, safe travels.
*I was invited to review this hotel by The Principal London. All opinions are honest and are my own.
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