In a world after lockdown, I’m all about the bougier things in life. And it seems that everyone else in the capital is too. We’ve seen an influx of luxury hotels opening in recent months; first one of America’s most popular boltholes ventured to the West End, and now a Singaporean favourite is setting up shop in the City. The one that’s looking the most luxe of them all? The Londoner.
Touted as “the world’s first super boutique hotel,” it’s entered the arena with quite a bold statement. Home to French-Mediterranean spot Whitcomb’s, rooftop izakaya 8, and now slinky pub Joshua’s Tavern, the Leicester Square hotel has got all sorts of sexy dining areas. On my agenda this week? Putting European plates to the test with a romantic date night at the former.
Though it’s situated in the heart of touristland, The Londoner has an exclusive feel. There was a doorman to welcome us, before a warming fire and neon signage gave way to Whitcomb’s. Padded powder blue menus joined tartan checked chairs and a towering high ceiling. The whole place shouted plush. As we settled into a cosy corner table, our incredible waiter Kevin took us through the menu; French fare with a Mediterranean touch, alongside wines and cocktails created to complement each dish.
First on our agenda, a mellow negroni (£14) stirred with Calvados, Suze and Campari, and the stunning Arrivée (£12) which married Lillet Blanc, Noilly Prat, elderflower, white melon cordial and prosecco in a tall coupe. As for the petites assietes, we opted for a beautifully presented tuna tartare (£18) topped with edible flowers and caviar. Though giving us style and substance, the tuna was dulled by a huge egg yolk which overpowered the freshness. Fromage au four (£14), however, ticked every box; with Gruyère, Emmental, Cognac, crispy pancetta and Dijon mustard baked in a skillet to form what might be the most luscious fondue I’ve ever tasted. Salty, stringy, gooey… just how it should be.
Coming in just as strong was the rigatoni au homard (£28) from the pâtes maison section. A gateway to the larger mains, the pasta matched chunks of seared lobster and labneh crème with a welcome kick of scotch bonnet. We made sure to save space for the boeuf au poivre (£42); rib-eye steak grilled medium rare and served alongside whole roasted garlic and an indulgent truffle peppercorn sauce. Mopped up by huge, crispy, layered frites (£5) and enhanced with a glass of red wine (£24 each), we practically inhaled it all.
Umming and ahhing between doughy beignets, a fruity mille-feuille and French toast, we let Kevin make the decision for us. Boy, did he get it right. Rounded off with a glass of Vin Santo del Chianti (£12), the Toast Français (£12) was just the hit my sweet tooth needed. Giving notes of rum raisin, the dessert wine was perfectly paired with the fluffy bread which was splashed in Grand Marnier, topped with clementine confit and finished off with a mound of drool-inducing black pepper toffee butter. Perfection.
The DesignMyNight Digest
Catering to an upmarket crowd, Whitcomb's at The Londoner delivers on all fronts. It might not be the cheapest of options, but with impeccable service, a stellar choice of drinks and dishes that range from elevated comfort food to fancy classics, this is one for those evenings where you want to treat yourself... or that someone special.
💰 The damage: around £100 per person.
📍 The location: in the heart of Leicester Square, just moments from the station.
👌 Perfect for: date nights to remember.
⭐ Need to know: the hotel is lush, you'll want to check out the lobby bar before you leave.