HOTEL REVIEW – THE DILLY LONDON
Edwardian heritage meets contemporary vibes at Piccadilly’s newest place to stay, says Helen Dalley.
Originally debuting as the Piccadilly Hotel in 1904 and now rebranded as the Dilly, this new hotel situated in the midst of Theatreland is housed in an impressive Neo-baroque style building where well-heeled Edwardians once wined and dined and was frequented by King George V. One of the best things about the hotel is its location right on Piccadilly, with theatres on the doorstep and St James’s Park, Buckingham Palace and Pall Mall all within easy walking distance.
Rooms and suites are cheerful and minimalist, deep blue walls contrasting against pairs of red armchairs, while period windows proffer vibrant views onto busy Piccadilly. I’m staying in a Splendid Room, which features wallpaper adorned with old maps of London while bright prints of the UK capital hanging above the bed add a splash of colour. As London’s iconic red double deckers sail past, I spy the top of the London Eye from my window and feel the vibe of the city’s beating heart below.
I drop my bags and head straight over to The Terrace for the hotel’s celebrated Peter Rabbit Afternoon Tea, which includes an edible chocolate plant pot filled with chocolate soil and a miniature Peter Rabbit figure crafted from sugar icing. Served on a two-tier wooden stand on slabs of dark slate for a contemporary touch, the carrot cake is a real treat, as is a life-like toadstool with a meringue stem and cap crafted from raspberry fondant dusted in coconut. With the sunlight streaming through the slanting glass ceiling, I top up my Earl Grey with hot water several times as it’s just such a lovely space to linger and watch the world go by. If you bring the kids, head over to the Terrace’s bookshelves, which are stacked with literature and games from Hatchard’s famous Piccadilly bookshop, which was established in 1797.
Arguably the best thing about the hotel is Madhu’s, a fine dining restaurant housed in the hotel’s Grade II listed Oak Room, where a cool mix of original features – think oak panelled walls and chandeliers – meet zebra print chairs and statement sofas. Some cool tunes and a buzzing bar area further enhance the vibe, and it feels like the place to be on a Friday evening as I sip a Lounging Monkey cocktail (Monkey 47, lychee liqueur and lemongrass) as a precursor to dinner in the adjoining dining room. My friends and I order the vegetarian sharing platter, where the paneer tikka is the culinary highlight. Marinated in chili, turmeric and yogurt, it might just be the best paneer this Indian cuisine-loving vegetarian has ever had. Similarly sublime is a side of asparagus choma, grilled on the robata and subtly spiced with chili and lemon, as is the main of chana masala which, like the rest of the dishes is beautifully presented. I’m not much for Indian desserts but impressed by everything we’ve tasted so far, we order almond kulfi, a gorgeous upscale take on this classic Indian dessert that inspires my friend to google kulfi recipes the next day.
I return to the glorious light-filled space that is the Terrace for breakfast (just pastries and coffee, although full English breakfasts are available) then it’s time to meet director of guest experience Paul Whittle for a hotel tour, diving into the nooks and crannies of this beautiful old building and taking in the swimming pool, health club and two spa treatment rooms along the way. Whittle has worked in the building for more than 30 years, and while the owners have changed regularly, its spirit remains intact, he says. Whittle is grateful that the Grade II listed Oak Room is still largely unchanged from its heyday at the turn of the 20th century (save for the odd zebra print cushion) and we both agree it’s the hotel’s undoubted highlight. He piques my interest by saying the hotel offers walking tours, and with his extensive knowledge of the area – he starts telling me about the original Wall’s butchers on Jermyn Street – it’s sure to be a good one. “We stop for a pint in a traditional local pub at the end, which the Americans always enjoy,” he says with a smile.
The Dilly has retained everything that made the Piccadilly Hotel so special when this grand English Palladian-style building first debuted on Piccadilly back in the 1900s while adding some cool contemporary touches and an extraordinary Indian fine dining experience. Thanks to this impressive hybrid of old and new and its enviable location right on Piccadilly, it’s already garnering quite the reputation. thedillylondon.com