Hotel Review: Dean Street Townhouse in London
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Great effort has been made to give the Dean Street Townhouse a proper English feel. The 39-room Georgian town house, which opened in November, is owned by the Soho House Group, which runs several exclusive private clubs, but the staff here doesn’t put on airs. In London, where neighborhoods are as plentiful and dispersed as petals on a peony, it’s often best to decide whether to try to act more like a tourist (sightseeing, theatergoing) or a local (restaurant-eating, marketgoing). This is one spot where you can get away with being both.
This may be the closest thing to the middle of London. Soho, high-voltage and compact, reminds one of Times Square, except that here you find sleepy side streets and village-esque corners. The hotel sits discreetly between Oxford Street and Shaftesbury Avenue, both cluttered with nightclub, theater and shopping traffic. From this vantage, it’s easy to imagine a walkable London, with the opera house at Covent Garden, the National Gallery at Trafalgar Square, and the book and music stores of Tottenham Court Road just around the bend.
We stayed in Room 6, playfully called the Broom Cupboard. For about $135, at $1.50 to the pound, you get a miniature room — a bathroom on the lower floor, connected to an upstairs bedroom by a spiral staircase. This room (and others labeled “tiny”) features blue-and-yellow floral boardinghouse wallpaper and large windows with plantation shutters that overlook pedestrian Meard Street. (Bigger rooms, which we peeked in to while the maid wasn’t looking, feature fancy in-bedroom bathtubs.) There are built-in larders with tea, coffee and ginger biscuits, all in silver tins, and a proper teapot, as well as a Bose iPod docking station and a flat-screen television, which we didn’t turn on. The broom cupboard isn’t so tiny, however — there is plenty of room for suitcases in the entryway, and my 6-foot-4 fiancé bumped his head under the staircase only twice.
Awkwardly shaped but bigger than you might expect, the bathroom has radiant floor heat, a frying-pan-size shower head and a shower bigger than an English phone booth. It’s stocked with Cowshed products, including scents and lotions that recall vegetal apothecary tinctures, like the quinoa moisturizer.
Available until 11:30 a.m. for breakfast, and 2 a.m. for other food most days. Yogurt and berries (£5) were surprisingly inspired, and arrived in 12 minutes. Hot smoked salmon salad with celeriac, apple and walnut is £7.75, and sherry trifle, which must be tried, is £5. Good luck getting the tray up the stairs of the Broom Cupboard.
The lobby has a dim, 19th-century drawing room feel, except for the N’Espresso machine. We spent hours hosting friends there, drinking green tea and eating oranges from a bowl. The restaurant downstairs, which shares the hotel’s name, has recently acquired a raucous international following, and that may be because it serves English food — fish and chips over mashed marrowfat peas, for instance — to near-sterling perfection.
If you want to feel like a member of a private city club without going through the social hurdles, this is a good place to hang your bowler hat. Rooms start at £90, about $136.
Dean Street Townhouse, 69-71 Dean Street, W1D; (44-207) 434-1775; deanstreettownhouse.com.
Meaning #1: a hat that is round and black and hard with a narrow brim; worn by some British businessmen
Synonyms: bowler, derby, plug hat
The bowler hat, also known as a coke hat, derby (US) or billycock, is a hard felt hat with a rounded crown originally created in 1849 for Edward Coke, the younger brother of the 2nd Earl of Leicester.