Hotel Review: The Academy Hotel, Bloomsbury in London
Located in the heart of Bloomsbury in the heart of London, an area loaded with literary history, the Academy is a local institution. A beautiful boutique hotel set in five Grade II-listed Georgian townhouses dating back to 1776, the Academy is a discrete and chic retreat for those wanting to escape the hustle and bustle of the city.
Perfect for a romantic break in the centre of a capital, the Academy is situated bang in the centre of a stretch of Gower Street. The hotel is within walking distance of Russell Square, the boutiques of Covent Garden and the nightlife of Soho. The iconic British Museum and the revered Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts are a few blocks away. The railway stations of King’s Cross and St.Pancras International are five minutes by cab, making the hotel an ideal base from which to travel to the north of England and into Scotland as well as to Paris and beyond.
On arrival we were met by the friendly and very well-turned out staff in the reception. Throughout our stay the staff were at hand but kept a discrete, unobtrusive distance.
The Academy boasts 50 rooms ranging from singles to deluxe suites. Our room was very spacious and decorated in a muted palette with geometric wallpaper from Cole & Son wallpaper, furniture and fabrics from Lee Jofa and Osborne & Little. It was a freezing January weekend and the room was warm and very cosy. The living area had sofas, leather chairs and an unusual but fetching chequerboard table.
The waist-high gargantuan bed was firm and extremely comfortable. Fine Egyptian cotton sheets, warm blankets and an ever so soft feather-down duvet only added to the luxury list. Our room was at the back and boasted huge long triple-glazed windows so we never heard a peep from the busy streets outside. A very modern television, Nespresso machine and even personalised bars of chocolate came as standard. The stunning marble bathroom was immaculate and had enough space to include a deep bath. Aromatherapy Associates products were provided.
The original Academy Hotel dated back to the 1960s and was a hangout for bohemian artists and academics from nearby University College. A renovation by acclaimed New York-based designer Alexandra Champalimaud, a designer whose work such as the Carlyle in New York, the Belmond Mount Nelson in Cape Town and the Hotel Bel-Air in Los Angeles is synonymous with luxury hotel interiors – has transformed the hotel. Yet Champalimaud has subtly retained its original Bloomsbury spirit and its celebrated features such as the magnificent staircase and the solid, almost totemic, fireplaces.
A lovely nod to both the hotel and Bloomsbury’s literary past – E.M Forster, Virginia Woolf and George Orwell to name a few resided in the locale – is the hotel’s Library. With its monkey wallpaper and expansive leather sofas the Library is a gorgeous burrow to curl up in on a cold winter’s afternoon. Similar too is the next door lounge with its dark green walls and refined wooden panelling where a delightful Afternoon Tea will set you back £30.
While there is no established restaurant at the Academy, the Refectory serves an impressive seasonal continental and English breakfast as well as nostalgic English delectables such as buttermilk pancakes. The Refectory also serves a light ‘Refuel’ menu of hearty dishes such as four cheese ravioli and paprika calamari throughout the day.
With its black and white tiled floor, fine grey walls, ornate furnishings and partially canopied ceiling the Alchemy Bar is the hotel’s outstanding feature and when good weather permits opens onto an the immaculate terrace – a tranquil garden courtyard in the heart of Bloomsbury. The resident cocktail waiter can rustle up a very impressive Tanqueray Bloomsbury Martini, a timeless classic that tastefully epitomises a very classy and characterful hotel.
Rooms range from £130 to £225 for the garden suite, and the price includes full English breakfast
Address: 21 Gower Street, Bloomsbury, London WC1E 6HG, United Kingdom
Phone: 020 7631 4115