There, you got me. I hold my hands up and openly admit I actively enjoy browsing hotels, from researching through to booking, and actually get a rush of excitement from finding a hidden gem. I’d probably go as far to say I consider it my main personality trait, as sometimes I even have a nose at hotels in my own city. This led me to The Guardsman, a new five-star hotel in London.
Having opened in 2021, The Guardsman is a slick, contemporary wonder. From the outside, it really stands out, and in all the right ways: think gold detailing beautifully contrasting with the grey brickwork. It's so breathtaking, I could see people outside stopping in their tracks to admire the view. Nestled in historic Westminster, the entrance is seriously modern, concealed behind a stunning metallic patterned doorway.
In opposition to the stuffy, formal check-in process normally associated with hotels, here you’re escorted into the drawing room and offered a welcome drink. It’s all rather relaxing. The aforementioned area channels quintessentially British members’ bar vibes, but with a glam twist. A dazzling chandelier forms the main centrepiece, flooding the room with light, while the marble walls provide the perfect backdrop to pops of orange and yellow velvet. Books on the royal family, Saville Row and London theatres can be found in the nearby library, flanked by natural-toned, panelled walls and ornate ceilings. A cute, wooden version of naughts and crosses caught my eye, giving the space a fun spirit, but there’s no doubt about it, it’s as swanky as you can get.
We booked the signature Guardsman room on the first floor, and boy, it did not disappoint. The colour scheme of sage green, lavish gold, crisp white, lilac and black marble carries on the chic theme from downstairs, while the Art Deco lighting and velvet accessories were all very alluring. The magnificent floor to ceiling mirrors fold to reveal a gorgeous, free-standing bath and shower suite. I had to pinch myself as this really is the room of dreams. Functionally, it has all you could ever need for a city break: USB ports, generous toiletries, the fluffiest of towels (and loads of them too, no scrimping here), HD TV with surround sound and even a snazzy Nespresso coffee machine. Complimentary dressing gowns and slippers gave us all the spa feels, while the handwritten welcome note gave the hotel a personal touch.
Location-wise, you can’t really ask for better. Buckingham Palace is around five minutes away, The Ritz and Burlington Arcade roughly ten to fifteen, and the lush lawns of Green Park and St James’ are only a short walking distance. So, 15,000 steps later, we came back to a warm welcome that The Guardsman are becoming known for.
Exploring is hungry work, so we walked down the elegant spiral staircase to the classy, Art Deco-inspired dining room, reserved exclusively for guests. The bar area towards the back is pure 1920s speakeasy, with green tiles, glass panels, cosy lighting and brown leather stools. A very sexy affair indeed. Our attentive and friendly waiter immediately mixed up a welcome Bees Knees taster: an ice-cool cocktail made with gin, lemon and honey and it really packed a punch.
The Guardsman’s philosophy is a break from the norm: no standard menus, no set hours. So we were lucky enough to try out new dishes that launched the previous week. My date opted for the smoked salmon starter (£14.50): a fresh-as-you-like dish featuring drops of creme fraiche, salty capers, tangy citrus and garnished with flowers. I decided to go for a double whammy of carbs for my starter and main, with the basil and ricotta tortellini (£9.50). You would think this would be a bit much to start, but the folded pockets of pasta were beautifully light, and the sage butter was very decadent. Loved the fried basil garnish too.
My gnocchi main (£15.50) highlighted all the delights of spring: pea puree, yummy greens and crispy yet fluffy potato balls. For my date: the honey-roasted duck (£28.50) was a triumph: succulent and juicy, earthy with the mushrooms and carrot puree, plus the sweetness of the Madeira jus brought the dish together. Did he mop up the sauce with some of the crispy triple cooked chips (£6.50)? Yep, it was that good. We closed our feast with the Spring Smile (£9.50), after recommendations from the waiter. Please promise me that you’ll order this when you go along, as it was the prettiest and tastiest dessert I ever had the pleasure of eating. It was presented with edible flowers, drizzled with peach gel and dotted with caramelised apricots, while the salted caramel ice cream cut through the fruitiness. Although we couldn’t taste the rosemary infusion, the milk chocolate mousse was outstanding and the hazelnut crunch provided texture.
With our bellies stuffed and feeling pretty pleased with ourselves, we retreated to our room, which had been adjusted for nighttime. You’re guaranteed a good night's kip here, not just because of the soothing night cream provided, but the bed is out-of-this-world comfy. I basically melted into the mattress and massive, cloud-like pillows. Aaaaand relax.
After an outrageously good sleep, our attention turned to breakfast. There’s plenty to choose from here, whether you’re after a light bite or something more substantial. As a couple who take the first meal of the day very seriously, we went for the full English, one vegan (£14.95) and the other meaty (£16.95). The veggie breakfast piqued my interest as it included a sweet potato fritter, giving the meal a nutty and charred flavour, plus the homemade baked beans are yummy too (you’ll never look at Heinz in the same way). My date swooned over the thin and crispy bacon, and perfectly poached eggs, washed down with a latte (£4.95) which really hit the spot and gave us all the energy to start Monday off with a bang.
The DesignMyNight Digest
Holidaying in London? Then your best bet is to make The Guardsman hotel your base, as it’s stylish yet homely, high-tech yet boutique and all the sights are literally on your doorstep. It’s five star without being pretentious, and we love the fact they have sustainability at its core. A calming, intimate hotel with 53 rooms, including a selection of beaut residencies, this sanctuary has all you could ever need. Oh, I mentioned the roll-back bath, yeah?
💰 The damage: The Guardsman signature rooms start at around £340 for one night, alongside an £84 dinner for two. A full English breakfast for both of us came in at £51.40.
📍 The location: 1 Vandon Street, Westminster, London, SW1H 0AH. Easy from Victoria train station.
👌 Perfect for: A weekend in London celebrating the Jubilee bank holiday, as Lizzie’s gaff is only a few steps away.
⭐ Need to know: Swot up on your chess skills and have a drink in the library. It’s a lovely, cosy space.