JC Stays: Artist Residence, London

Discovering boutique style with an eccentric twist inside a London townhouse


There are two kinds of hotels. There are the big chains, with their comforting anonymity, swimming pools and knowing what your room will be like before you’ve even seen it. 

And then there are the ‘boutique’ hotels, promising character and quirks. The Artist Residence in Pimlico takes the idea of a boutique hotel and runs with it.

The young owners have decorated the ten-room former pub with cheeky artwork, unfinished brick walls and salvaged vintage furniture – the aim being a hotel that feels like a home from home, as well as a place to fuel your creativity. 

It’s a homage to shabby chic. My ‘grand suite’ on the first floor (no lift, but the charming receptionist carried up my case) reminded me of an English aristocrat’s London townhouse in the 1950s. 

The parquet floorboards were mainly exposed, apart from a few well-worn carpets; a massive claw-foot bath occupied a corner of the bedroom; no squashy sofas here but rather an elegantly austere couch and armchairs, and creaky cupboards. 

To call reception, I found myself dialling an old-fashioned phone. The art on the walls, of course, like huge framed Mills and Boon posters with whimsical adaptations, is all very modern. 

Equally modern were the walk-in shower, the TV, free WiFi, good bed linen and the double sink (like the bath, this was in the open-plan bedroom suite). 

The Cambridge Street Cafe on the ground floor is deservedly popular, as my guest and I discovered. 

In a buzzy, intimate atmosphere, with chefs cooking right in front of us, we enjoyed sophisticated flavours just on the right side of adventurous. Chocolate mousse and ice cream on the dessert menu sounded dull but was anything but, with layers of lime, peanut and salted caramel hitting the tongue in waves. 

In the basement is an equally trendy cocktail bar and ping pong room.

The only negative to my stay was a slight scent of frying oil wafting into the room from the restaurant below. 

But once the shutters and two layers of curtains were drawn, and after a deep bath filled with heavenly bubbles and bath salts, I felt cosseted and slept well in a huge bed. 

It was only a shame that a sign warned taking the Bramley toiletries home would incur extra charges, as I would otherwise have loved to have swiped the entire collection (which was artfully arranged on a wooden ladder next to the bath). 

If you want to stay somewhere eccentric, cool and full of personality, with attentive staff and superb food, you’ll be wowed by the Artist Residence. 

Founded in 2014, it’s 10 minutes’ walk from Victoria station and tucked away on a fairly quiet residential but inner-city street and only one in a growing small chain of Artist Residence hotels – you’ll find others in Oxfordshire and Cornwall, and the original in Brighton, which used to be a family B&B. 

Son of the family Justin Salisbury dropped out of university aged 20 to work for the business in 2008, and with his then-girlfriend, now wife, Charlie, developed a signature style with the help of local artists. 

Next year an old boot factory in Bristol will become the fifth in the group. But I suspect that however big this gets, Artist Residence hotels will never become a typical chain.

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