Hazlitt's Hotel · London

Hazlitt's Hotel | London | ©Victoria Lagnehag | www.victorialagnehag.com-16.jpg

William Hazlitt’s former home is situated anonymously on the Soho Square end of Frith Street. The building looks deceivingly residential with a discreet entrance and drawn curtains. More observant guests may spot the name above the door or the blue plaque on the building which gives memory to its former resident. But any evidence of it being a hotel, remains concealed.

Author William Hazlitt died in poverty in 1830 at number 6 Frith Street, in one of three adjoining townhouses. At the time, 6 Frith Street was a boarding house. The story goes that Hazlitt’s landlady was keen to re-let his room, so she simply hid his body under the bed while showing new tenants around, until it could be collected for burial in nearby St Anne’s Churchyard.

The three buildings were fashioned into Hazlitt’s in 1986 by co-founders Peter McKay and Douglas Blain, founding members of the Spitalfields Trust, a charity dedicated to restoring Georgian houses. Or ”two old gits” as they prefer to be called. A fourth building behind, was converted into a sitting room and an additional eight bedrooms.

Think of us as just a pair of old buffoons who had a good idea.

The pair originally toyed with the idea of creating an upmarket brothel, but decided on a hotel albeit little experience from hospitality. McKay with a background from the travel industry and Blain a journalist come antiques dealer who also restored old house “slapped on a coat of paint, added some basic plumbing and a Helena Bonham Carter lookalike on reception” before launching. Nigella Lawson reviewed the hotel and well, their success was made.

A modest description of Hazlitt’s success, which goes well beyond a bit of paint and a celebrity review. The Hazlitt’s has been transformed into a charming boutique hotel, carefully and authentically restored to host its guests. There’s the creaky floors, the different sitting rooms, a wonky staircase, seductive antiques and the feeling of residing in someone’s home.

Atmosphere, that’s the most important thing. ~Douglas Blain

The 30 individually decorated rooms have no numbers but are instead named after Soho locals, each with their own story.

Madam Dafloz was a French lady of the night, described as young and lovely. Her room is decorated in bold blue colours with all the 21st century amenities carefully hidden behind the Georgian wall panels to maintain that authentic feel. And with a Georgian roll top bath, tiled shower room, original details and a toilet throne made of wood, it’s one for the books.

Hazlitt's Hotel | London | ©Victoria Lagnehag | www.victorialagnehag.com-2.jpg
©Victoria Lagnehag

Mrs. Teresa Cornelys was a noted lover of Casanova, and as such, her room is turned into lavish boudoir.

The Duke of Monmouth was the eldest bastard son of King Charles II and his suite, with its own private rooftop terrace, bears distinct traces of royal extravagance with rich colours and textures.

©Victoria Lagnehag
©Victoria Lagnehag

The hotel mirrors the owners passion for atmosphere and antiques. With more than 2,000 paintings and prints, sculptures, antique design details, original furniture and an impressive book collection, Hazlitt’s is a masterpiece. Its historical value and attention to detail, makes it a work of art. Preserving the Georgian feel means that it’s perfectly imperfect and full of surprises. Bathrooms hidden behind bookcases, staff disappearing in secret corridors and an elusive resident cat, Sir Godfrey. Hazlitt’s is still a relatively anonymous hotel yet popular amongst celebrities and writers and its success is based solely on word-of-mouth.

©Victoria Lagnehag
©Victoria Lagnehag

There is no restaurant, or bar. Breakfast is delivered promptly on the doorstep on a big wooden tray. The coffee is hot and strong, there is a generous selection of pastries with jam and butter and a pot of yoghurt with fresh berries. An absolute treat. And there’s the Brick Lane bagel with smoked salmon and creme cheese which I can personally vouch for and their bacon ciabatta is legendary. Room service offer an impressive evening menu with pasta, seafood and traditional British dishes. The wine list is extensive.

Staying at the Hazlitt’s Hotel is not just about appreciating architecture and historical legacy but about the little things. It’s a quiet oasis in the middle of London’s hustle and bustle. A safe haven for solo travellers, business travellers and couples alike, looking for something different . Staff is attentive yet respectful of your privacy and after a few days, they feel like family. The Hazlitt’s will be appealing to the new breed of travellers, who value quality and authenticity over big loud hotel chains. 

Hazlitt’s Hotel · 6 Frith St, Soho, London W1D 3JA · +44 20 7434 1771

©Victoria Lagnehag