Jackie: One Lawrence has had a long-time love affair with London, and is always astonished when he finds a new hotel to share. Share away…
David: I have traveled to London at least 70 times since my first trip in the mid-60’s when, as president of the Television Academy, I attended a national conference at the Savoy Hotel. In the years since, I have gone to London for business (to produce TV films and mini-series), for pleasure (with Jacqueline, in the last ten years) and for the love of one of the world’s greatest, most surprising cities. And this time, London surprised me once more when I stayed at the splendid Milestone Hotel. Now I can well understand how, and why, it has been voted “London’s Best” by the discerning readers of Condé Nast Travel magazine. The location is perfect; the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea (you cannot be at a better address, and not just for the snob appeal but for the sense of history and beauty). I found myself kissing close to Kensington Palace and Gardens, the Victoria and Albert Museum, Royal Albert Hall and Albert Memorial. A short walk from the hotel takes you to Knightsbridge for Harrods and Harvey Nichols. A bit further, a long-ish walk or a short taxi ride, and you are in the heart of the West End Theatre District. But, frankly, you will find it as hard to leave the Milestone as I did.
Originally, the Milestone was a private residence; two very upscale houses. They were lovingly and beautifully combined into one; restored, updated and transformed into a five star hotel with just 45 deluxe guest rooms, 12 luxury suites and six long-stay apartments (each different, each exceptional). My accommodation (“Margaret Rose”) was dramatically on two levels; four steps down to the sitting area where bow windows overlooked Kensington Gardens and Kensington Palace. (I was practically one of the Royals!) This level contained a huge sofa, a console containing a mini-bar, a flat screen TV and a piece of contemporary art I would like to own. Also, lovely gifts from General Manager Andrew Pike—fresh fruit, a chilled bottle of excellent champagne and a fresh red carnation (symbol of the Red Carnation Group; the Milestone is the flagship, plus a dozen other luxury hotels including the marvelous Summer Lodge in Dorset which I have written about earlier). My enduring thanks to Arnelle Kendall, most helpful head of PR for the outstanding group, for pointing my way to Red Carnation.
Back up to the first level: a lovely bedroom with two big closets, a glamorous mirrored dresser, and another flat screen TV with a message welcoming me by name. The huge marble bath had robes to get lost in, and Penhaligon toiletries.
Each area of the Milestone is glorious—the Stables Bar with its horse and jockey theme, the conservatory, the lounge where high tea is served. On the lower level, one finds a gym, a sauna and a heated resistance pool.
Finally, there is Cheneston’s (Old English for Kensington) Restaurant where I was invited to join Andrew Pike’s dinner party. Good company, a peaceful and beautiful room, the perfect host and excellent food and wine. I opted for a ballotine of wild Scottish salmon, crème fraîche and caviar to start, and a fillet of new season lamb with dauphinoise potatoes. A tip of the Tocque to Executive Chef Luke Davis! To close, individual plates of tiny samples of each sinful dessert, and pleasantly surprising wines throughout: Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir, both from South Africa, and with dessert, Sauternes from France.
Happily sated, I returned to my room to discover the housekeeper had turned down, refreshed and left a scented candle burning in the bathroom, and a gift of a tiny book on quilting along with a clip on book light. Sweet pleasures. Treat yourself to all—visit London and the Milestone!
Jackie: I’ll repeat one word, Harrods. Wheeee!