Editors' Picks

Brown’s Hotel, A Rocco Forte Hotel

Cosmopolitan, buzzy, utterly English

33 Albemarle Street, London W1S 4BP


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At a Glance

In a city like London, it can be hard to choose a hotel from the stunners on offer—but for lovers of a good story, there are few that outmatch Brown’s Hotel, a Rocco Forte Hotel). Originally 11 separate Georgian townhouses, the bones of the property embrace their heritage, from the tiled address plate at the entrance to the proud central staircase and narrow hallways. It’s a hotel that used to welcome and inspire writers (like Agatha Christie and Rudyard Kipling, who penned *The Jungle Book*here), as well as presidents, royals and movie stars. During World War II, a special exit to the bomb shelter had to be built for Winston Churchill, who liked to come for lunch. Though many of the antique details, like the signature wood paneling in the dining spaces, are preserved, the 82 guestrooms and 33 suites were given a stylish makeover when Rocco Forte acquired the property. The finest are the suites facing Dover Street, with their floor-to-ceiling windows and broad desks that invite travelers to try their hand at a line or two.

**The Standout:** The renovated Donovan Bar for martinis among peacock-green banquettes **Don’t Miss:** Afternoon tea in the wood-paneled Drawing Room, an old haunt of Queen Victoria

Indagare Loves

  • The location just steps from Bond Street
  • The hotel’s history, which dates back to 1837 and is populated by such characters as Agatha Christie, Rudyard Kipling and Winston Churchill
  • The updated main restaurant, Charlie’s, which features colorful, floral-splashed interiors by Olga Polizzi


If the walls of this historic hotel, which opened in 1837, could speak, they would tell a colorful story of London. Its beehive of rooms (in 11 joined Georgian townhouses) has hosted writers (Rudyard Kipling and Agatha Christie) and presidents (Roosevelt) and dozens of dignitaries, royals and movie stars. Among the historic moments memorialized in the landmark property: Alexander Graham Bell’s placing of the first phone call in Britain and Rudyard Kipling penning The Jungle Book here. During World War II a special exit to the bomb shelter had to be built for Churchill, who liked to dine here for lunch.

When Sir Rocco Forte’s hotel group took over the hotel, he brought in his stylish sister Olga Polizzi to clean up the quaint chintz rooms and bring a more modern sensibility to the place. Though many of the antique details like the grand front stairs were preserved, all of the now 82 guest rooms and 33 suites were given a contemporary makeover. The most successful ones are the suites facing Dover Street with their floor-to-ceiling windows and residential touches. Some rooms, like 425, work for families as they are large one-bedrooms with a living area with a sofa that easily converts to another bed for a child. The least successful rooms are the ones facing the interior courtyards, as the grey palette of the rooms can create a dreary atmosphere and make you understand why the old decorators played up the floral patterns in the smaller rooms.

Despite the charming, homey feeling of the hotel, it does come with all of the amenities of the larger, grand hotels nearby such as a spa, fitness room and business center. Charlie's, the main restaurant, features a design refresh amid historic wood paneling and a menu by the Michelin-starred chef Adam Byatt. Across the foyer, head to the modern Donovan Bar when the cocktail crowd comes for martinis. Should Agatha Christie reappear, she would have a whole new cast of characters with whom to play.

Who Should Stay

Families, friends and couples looking for a historic but hip haven in Mayfair; those who want to be a stone’s throw from Sotheby’s and Bond Street and those who appreciate the apartment-like suites.

Written by Indagare

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