The Milestone Hotel



It's a cold December day, but the welcome sign in the lobby of the Milestone Hotel - "please help yourself to our complimentary hot chocolate, marshmallows and chocolates" - warms our hearts. This is the flagship property of family-owned hotel group Red Carnation and it's stone's throw from Royal Albert Hall and practically opposite Kensington Palace.

There has been a mansion here since the 17th century yet the property retains its olde worlde charm - top-hatted doorman, little nooks and crannies fitted with plush settees and sofas. Even the odd creaking floorboard adds to the charm.

Just off the lobby, the Park Lounge is doing brisk business with classic afternoon teas. It's a quintessential English drawing room, with a fireplace, rows of antique books, plenty of glossies and newspapers and lots of comfy seating. There is original art everywhere, courtesy of South African owner of the group, Bea Tollman, whose love affair with everything equine is evident.

Upstairs, the 63 guestrooms, suites and apartments are tailored differently, a consequence of the building's listed status perhaps or simply because of Bea's passion for individualism. Either way. they are all elegant retreats with Penhaligon toiletries, fresh flowers, soft fluffy robes, iPod docking stations, DVD players, large flat screen TVs and all kinds of little knicks and knacks. Our room directly overlooks Kensington Palace and Gardens, a simply stunning view to wake up to.

Downstairs, tucked away around a corner lies the charming Stables bar and conservatory, the perfect venue for a discreet night cap or two or a daytime snack. I discover a small gym and pool area in the basement with spa therapies and massage.

Back in the Park Lounge for a coffee after dinner, even the pianist is a surprise. His repertoire extends to 70s' Cream covers and even the odd current chart hit.

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