It’s the location of Grafton Hotel that is part of its appeal. Many hotels boast “good transport links” but The Grafton could hardly have a better position. Some guests at the hotel might be fortunate enough to have a suite with a view over an iconic London Underground station. Warren Street tube is right next door and there is a veritable fleet of red buses on the doorstep to enable the tourist to travel like a local.
The Grafton is close to the theatres of the West End, as well as museums, the vibrant Camden Market and thousands of shops for clothes, shoes and every other element of sartorial elegance. This neighbourhood of London offers a base from which to explore near and far.
The Grafton has the ambiance of a small boutique hotel even though it has 330 rooms and suites. It’s been sympathetically refurbished to retain many of the original features of the oldest part of the hotel, that dates back to the start of the 20th century. It won’t take the visitor long to notice the ornate ceiling mouldings, the occasional pillar and a striking staircase in the lobby. There are still the dark wood and leaded glass hall doors on the upper floors, as well as some stained glass.
The owners have not been content to just freshen the paint. They have made a striking design statement with lavish use of tasteful Asian art in all its guises. One is welcomed by a couple of black woolly llamas with magnificent golden heads. The dining room has a wall swimming with gold and silver fish, and every hallway has frames filled with jewellery and carvings. There is a lot of Asian objets d’art but its display is subtle.
The Grafton is a 4-star hotel that is full of amenity. It appeals to business travellers – each room has a practical array of sockets and even provision of 110 volts for US appliances. There is a well-equipped business centre with computers and printers for those travelling light. There are 14 meeting rooms for groups of varying sizes and demands, and this is an ideal hotel for conferences and events, able to accommodate up to 110 people.
The Aston Bar and Restaurant was our wintery evening refuge and it’s impressive with the largest pewter (or is it zinc?) bar in London. The counter is original and tactile and reminds you why people turn to drink. It’s an event just to pull up a high stool and lean on that silver-grey metal and sip a signature Martini. Be transported back to the buzzing 1930s when this spot was the HQ for the Aston Martin Club.
This is smart casual dining, in surroundings that encourage lingering. Mirrors, columns, vibrant upholstery, textured walls; high ceilings combine to create a light and airy dining room that reflects both contemporary and original opulence.
The restaurant at Grafton Hotel offers a seasonal British-inspired menu. There are twists on old favourites but lots of unadulterated traditional fare that will appeal to local and tourist alike.
Kidderton Ash goat’s cheese panna cotta, with apple and walnut salad and beetroot dressing was my guest’s choice of starter. A delightful presentation at Grafton Hotel of creamy mild and slightly tangy cheese complemented by that beetroot dressing which gave both colour and sweetness. It seems to be the ingredient of the moment and finds its way into both savoury and sweet preparations in some of the best restaurants just now.
Roast butternut squash, Jerusalem artichoke and red pepper salad, with chestnuts, toasted pumpkin seeds and a honey dressing was my light starter. The squash and artichoke were both tender and flavoursome and it’s good to see Jerusalem artichokes showcasing in something other than soup. Well-balanced dressing and crunch from nuts make this a must-try.
My guest is a man who is developing a taste for offal. It’s becoming more popular in restaurants as prices of regular meat cuts increase, and we are driven to at least sample some of those almost-forgotten frugal dishes of yesteryear. Grilled calves liver with thyme and onion purée, mashed potatoes, and grilled back bacon was my guest’s choice and it honestly was delicious. I am not often drawn to liver but calves liver doesn’t have any of the oft off-putting pungency of other livers from older and more mature animals. This was a hearty old-fashioned dish and a must-try for those who want to taste liver for the first time. If you eat meat then surely you will agree that we should be eating and enjoying every cut from nose to tail.
I don’t usually choose steak but this was a special Rib-eye steak (aged for 28 days) from Northern Ireland, served with grilled vine tomatoes, chips and peppercorn sauce. A simple piece of meat with unfussy garnish is comfort food and a treat. That hanging does develop flavour and the meat was meltingly tender. The chips were chunky and just the sort to eat sans cutlery.
Baked thin apple tart and toffee sauce was the flaky, light and deliciously decadent dessert. One must always be drawn to a pud that requires 20 minutes’ notice. Every individual tart is cooked to order and these are moreish. It’s that classic combination of hot fruit and cold ice cream that adds to the pleasure; and remember that The Grafton does have a Gym!
Radisson Edwardian Grafton Hotel is full of character and plenty of facilities. The location makes this popular lodgings for family fun as well as business. The newly refurbished rooms are comfortable with a very individual charm that one would not expect from a chain hotel. There are plenty of restaurants in the area but The Aston can face that competition with confidence.
Radisson Edwardian Grafton Hotel
130 Tottenham Court Road, London W1T 5AY
Phone: +44 (0) 20 7388 4131
Fax: +44 (0) 20 7387 7394
Radisson Edwardian Grafton Hotel here
Hotel review by Chrissie Walker © 2018