Staycation: The Rubens at the Palace, London
by Liz Stansfield
Enjoy a weekend fit for a king at the regal The Rubens at the Palace hotel, just a stone’s throw from Buckingham Palace
When the very charming concierge apologises for not being able to whip the cork off a Champagne bottle with a sword (‘sadly, it’s a little too busy’), you know you’re somewhere very special.
I’m perched in the lounge at The Rubens at the Palace, tucking into what I consider ‘The Best Afternoon Tea in London’: a glass of fizz and a pot of tea accompanying a generous selection of sandwiches, sausage rolls, scones and pastries, served up with perfect peoplewatching views and live piano music.
The hotel changes its menu in line with London events, and was serving a Coronation Special when we visited – think crown mousse cake and the tastiest coronation chicken you’ll find during the reign of King Charles. I’m staying for the weekend with my sister, as a celebration for a big birthday (hers, not mine). And it’s just as special as the occasion demands: this part of the city is tourist land, and the place is full of excited visitors having a wonderful holiday.
The energy is infectious, and it gives me a newfound feeling of joy for London, which, when you’ve lived in this city for as long as I have, can be hardwon at times. Rooms at the hotel vary in size and scale; we have a small but perfectly formed twin in which we don’t hear a sound from other guests or London traffic.
Everything about this gem of a hotel is special: it’s a stone’s throw from Buckingham Palace (overlooking the entrance to the mews where horses clatter out and minor royals drive in); it has unrivalled service from an army of cheerful, helpful members of staff; and it offers an array of food and interesting cocktails.
The English Grill offers a classic menu of dishes done right, with perfectly cooked fish and meat served with style and flair – think tableside carving, flambéeing and fish filleting to order. We enjoy scallops and caviar, followed by lamb navarin with creamy mash, and I will be forever sad we are too full for dessert, particularly as there’s a cheese trolley, fit to bursting, doing the rounds.
The restaurant is grand, beautiful and just the right side of fancy. I don’t ‘do posh’ very often, but I felt immediately at ease here. If you fancy some heat, book into the hotel’s The Curry Room, which offers a wonderful threecourse set menu. There are loads of things to do in this corner of the capital.
Take advantage of the location to enjoy Buckingham Palace, Green Park and St James’s Park, and Piccadilly with its famous shops such as Fortnum & Mason and those in Burlington Arcade. Or, just take a seat at the hotel’s The New York Bar and work your way through the brilliantly named cocktails – any bartender that can come up with a drink inspired by the Industrial Revolution deserves the day off.
We loved heading out at dusk, with full tummies and tipsy laughter, to see the palace as the sun went down – seriously special, whether you’re a royalist or not. The location, the service, the food… this really is a hotel ready and waiting to offer you a memorable stay in the capital. And to think, we didn’t even see the Champagne sword trick…
How to book
Rooms at The Rubens at the Palace hotel cost from £352 per night on a B&B basis (based on two people sharing). For more information, visit rubenshotel.com.