When I used to live in London, I spent many a Sunday strolling along the King’s Road, pretending I lived in one of the nearby mews cottages and imagining what life would be like if John Sandoe Books was my local bookshop. Thus is was the ultimate treat to spend the night in Sloane Square’s wonderfully well-heeled Draycott Hotel while on a recent trip to the UK. A country style home away from home that is steeped in period history, the former Edwardian townhouse offers an opulent base from which to explore the local area, and with a bookish air throughout, is an idyllic spot for those with a literary leaning,
A matter of meters from Sloane Square’s flagship David Jones, the Draycott Hotel is a stylish dwelling on the border of Knightsbridge and Chelsea. With a beautiful brick Edwardian exterior on a smart street just a five minute walk from Sloane Square tube station, the hotel’s address is as refined as the elegant interiors.
Perfectly plush and tastefully traditional, there are 35 rooms at the hotel, each of which are named after esteemed actors and writers, and contain a small selection of books. Our suite had a generous four-poster bed, a feature fireplace, a sumptuous sofa and swagged curtains that open onto the large enclosed garden square directly behind the hotel. With a country house vibe throughout and an air of old-fashioned refinement, the Draycott Hotel offers would-be visitors an idyllic urban retreat in the heart of Sloane Square.
Food and drink
Those partial to a spot of fine dining or an afternoon tipple or two are in for a treat at the Draycott Hotel. Guests can enjoy complimentary tea and homemade biscuits in the hotel’s traditional drawing room, before seeing in the evening with a glass of champagne and retiring to bed with a mug of hot chocolate. Breakfast is cooked or continental and can be served in the dining room or your hotel suite. We opted to have it in our room, and enjoyed a feast of freshly squeezed orange juice, figs, porridge, French pastries and a full English spread, all the while overlooking the sun-drenched square outside.
Chelsea has long been home to a wealth of literary figures – from the likes of A. A. Milne, Oscar Wilde, Jane Austen and beyond. “Few would venture to Chelsea, unarmed and unattended,” Charles Dickens once famously wrote in his 1841 novel Barnaby Rudge. Thus, the location of the Draycott Arems alone is enough to earn it a place among London’s most luxurious literary hotels, but it too features an elegant curated library, stocked with everything from brightly coloured Penguin classics, to London-centric novels. In addition to stylishly stocked bookshelves, the library shows off an Edwardian fireplace complete with intricate period woodwork, and plush pink-hued corner sofas, perfect for whiling away an afternoon with a book.
Undoubtedly one of the hotel’s highlights is its close proximity to John Sandoe Books. A Chelsea institution since it was first founded in 1957, John Sandoe Books is tucked away just off the King’s Road on Blackland’s Terrace, and is a proper, old fashioned bookshop. Crammed with thousands of fiction, non-fiction and classic tomes, it’s a bookish space that is filled with charm and nostalgia, and – not dissimilar to something you’d find in a Dickensian novel – the shop features creaky narrow stairs that lead up to a second floor of books, groaning bookcases and a cosy window seat in which to read one’s literary procurements.
Worth staying in bed for
As a city steeped in literature, there’s no shortage of location-appropriate books to read while staying at the Draycott Hotel, however, for anyone looking to really hone in on the are of Kensington and Chelsea, there are a couple of particularly good tales to choose from. Published by Persephone Books, The Carlyle’s at Home by Thea Holme is a fascinating read about husband and wife Thomas and Jane Carlyle’s life together at Cheyne Row in Chelsea. Told through a series of letters and journals, readers learn about the endless servant problems, where Jane’s hard-to-please nature coupled with the failings of her staff – drunkenness, incompetence, an illegitimate child – caused ongoing issues. Or for a more alternative take on life in Chelsea, Penelope Fitzgerald’s 1979 Booker winner, Offshore, explores the emotional restlessness of houseboat dwellers who are moored off Chelsea Reach and live neither fully on the water nor fully on the land.
Useful information about The Draycott Hotel
22-26 Cadogan Gardens, Chelsea, London SW3 2RP
One of London’s most luxurious hotels, The Draycott Hotel is situated at 26 Cadogan Gardens, a beautiful quiet garden square in the heart of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, and is a relaxing luxury urban retreat within the heart of England’s capital city. Just a stone’s throw from he myriad of luxury boutiques and quality restaurants in Knightsbridge, Sloane Square and the Kings Road, the location couldn’t be better.
Rooms at the Draycott Hotel start at £200 per night.