With houses dating from 1731, Flemings is a delightful property in Mayfair. Recently refurbished, this luxury, discreet hotel impresses travel editor Stanley Moss
Photographed by Paula Sweet
Stanley Moss is travel editor of Lucire.
That discreet murmur mixed with trumpet fanfare emanating from the direction of Mayfair heralds both the rebirth of a heritage London district and the reinvention of a celebrated historic property. Flemings, a collection of 13 conjoined townhouses dating from 1731, has operated continuously as a hotel since 1851. This beloved auberge off Green Park sits but two blocks from Fortnum & Mason, only a 10-minute walk from La Durée at the Burlington Arcade.
Recently refurbished in déco style, the nostalgic property recollects luxury lodging from the 1920s and 1930s integrating bespoke furniture, marble mosaic floors augmented by those little details like heated mirrors and triple-glazed windows on any street view, which we admire so much. At a surprising 129 rooms, Flemings manages to uphold a discreet profile, with the decorum of a smaller boutique hotel. The piecing-together of a clutch of houses resulted in many room variations, sizes and configurations. The property boasts 10 apartments and a stand-alone townhouse steps away, which may explain Flemings’ popularity for long and extended stay guests. With the higher-end rooms, transfers are included.
The supremely comfortable Room 78 has a garden with terrace, and a beautifully stocked in-room gin bar, a deferential nod to the current fascination with that fashionable libation. Look for an average guest aged 35–60 years old, American or central European, skewed 60–40 leisure to business. Throughout the property you’ll find photographic tributes to celebrities who have more recently graced Flemings’ halls: Harrison Ford, Judi Dench, Kate Moss, Naomi Campbell.
Lucire loves the public spaces. Tucked away behind a discreet door to the left of the entrance, you’ll find the Drawing Room, an ideal setting for a business rendezvous or classic Afternoon Tea, served from 1 to 5 p.m. Soft grey tones and plush banquettes with grey piping add a warm background with the working fireplace, accented by shelves of oversize art books from Assouline. Sit back, savour your brew from the East India Tea Company. We like the smoky oolong, or rose—Flemings’ signature blend. You could easily opt for chai or Earl Grey, tastefully arrayed before an opulent three-tier presentation of sandwiches, scones and cream, macarons and mousse. Ask to taste the commemorative confection designed for the Queen’s 90th birthday, a chocolate and café medallion imprinted with a golden crown.
September 20, 2016 proved to be a red-letter day for Flemings, marking the gala reopening of Manetta’s Bar, an historic meeting place associated with the Bloomsbury set, P. G. Wodehouse, and Agatha Christie. A contemporary fusion residing somewhere between a restaurant and a club, only 85 guests can be hosted, with one discreetly curtained banquette available. Once you’ve slipped in by the separate entrance on Clarges Street, you may experience a romanticized, dressy sensation where you might like to dwell for two hours, unhurried, and prove the theory that luxury definitely equals time. Two function rooms complete the possibilities, one private dining room seating up to 12, the second up to 22.
The kitchen lives under the stewardship of Michelin-starred chef Shaun Rankin. He’s the young celebrity talent known for seasonal, fresh, minimalist seafood presentations, locally sourced and foraged, quintessentially British. Œnophiles will delight in the newest twist on a wine list. First, it’s 100 per cent British. Second, it’s arranged by price rather than region, year or type. Third, you’ll discover a selection of highly recommended unknown boutique niche brands. (There are rumours that Manetta’s will soon release their own branded gin—watch this space!)
Think of Manetta’s as a hideout, a haven of quiet and privacy in the centre of bustling London. One city denizen, overheard in Flemings’ lobby, casually observed, ‘Now you have a place where you can bring your lover.’ •
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