The Laslett, Notting Hill
An achingly cool and calm oasis amid Notting Hill’s Portobello bustle
By Rosalyn Wikeley
Stretching out across five Notting Hill townhouses on Pembridge Gardens, all pillared and stucco-fronted, the Laslett feels less bohemian and more billionaire territory at first glance. This is after all West London’s affluent epicentre, but the neighbourhood’s creative spirit lives on within the boutique hotel’s retro rooms and across its bistro-style tables scattered beneath sweeping Victorian ceilings.
It’s named after Notting Hill Festival (forerunner of the Carnival’s) founder, Rhaune Laslett and takes the area’s artistic and music pedigree seriously. Local artworks adorn the walls of a brooding library and restaurant – where parquet floors, dusky velvet benches and mid century furniture paint a Nordic, masculine picture.
The hygge continues upstairs, just through a British lens with battered Penguin Classics lining shelves, local artworks and photography framed in black and heritage-style bathrooms you’d typically associate with a Georgian country hotel. Crisp white sheets contrast reclaimed wooden headboards, from which mid-century side tables have been carved, and symmetrically placed below Tom Dixon lamps. The scene evokes a bachelor’s pared down pied-a-terre – the well-shaved sort that browses vinyl stores and sips espressos over design magazines.
Downstairs, the Henderson Bar & Kitchen puts on the viennoiserie, smoked salmon benedict and haute sausage patty brioche buns for drawn-out brunches. It soon shifts gear to pastrami with Sally Clarke sourdough, cakes, teas, then, (quite abruptly), playful rum punches and jalapeno margaritas. Elegantly understated locals mop up truffle hummus and babaganoush with warm pitta from the terrace in summer, or share salt cod fishcakes and lamb ragu indoors over mellifluous conversation inside during the cooler months.
While the hotel’s design may twist to a cool international crowd, the Laslett is first and foremost a neighbourhood hangout, where antiques dealers and artists put the world to rights over really, really good coffee.
Sustainability: From the coffee beans to the beers and wines selected from small independent breweries and growers, sustainability and community sit front and centre at Laslett’s restaurant and bar. Even the meats lining the boards are ethically produced and procured by Cannon & Cannon.
Family-friendly: While interconnecting rooms are available and well-behaved children were present for breakfast during our stay (evidently there as a half term pastry treat with their parents), the Laslett strikes a grown-up note. You’re more likely to see a spruced art collector smoking a cigar on the terrace than prams and tot paraphernalia.
Access: Three rooms are suitable for those with mobility issues, while the Laslett’s communal spaces can all be accessed via ramps and two lifts.
Insider tips to know: Unbeknownst to many, the Recharge Rooms – a small-but-mighty spa and gym area – serve up cutting-edge wellness treatments such as an Ozone sauna, a lymphatic drainage and gentle chemical peel combination for a ‘fast glow,’ and an anti-age Radiofrequency and MesoJet skin infusion. A raft of plugged-in classes, such as iyengar yoga and EMS boxing, can be booked in the fitness rooms.
Doubles from £289
Location Guide: Notting Hill
Do: Once a splendidly dishevelled bohemian hotspot, where artists came to cut their teeth, the antiques brigade laid out their rusty trinkets and the legendary and marvellously multicultural Carnival was born, Notting Hill now houses the city elites in its white stucco-fronted houses. But, despite the swishy, Range Rover-heavy invasion, the neighbourhood’s original creative (and slightly scruffy) spirit lives on, you just need to know where to find it. Portobello market is a great start, though start after a Milanese-style coffee at Brasseria or a takeaway from Sally Clarke’s (the upper section near the tube is a tourist trap). Browse the Victorian lace, marble paper weights and vintage lamps until you reach Golborne Road, where Notting Hill’s soul has been keenly preserved. Pop into Muirshin Durkin and les Couilles Du Chien for antiques, Layla for sinfully good cinnamon buns and Tada & Toy for pretty (and refreshingly affordable) jewellery. Check out the Tabernacle’s programme of talks, classes and shows (expect cabaret nights and literary discussions), or hunker down at the Electric Cinema in its deep, velvet seats with truffle chips and Champagne.
Eat: Fish-forward Oresay, modern Greek Mazi and the Laslett’s stylishly low-key Henderson bar are the restaurants to book, or Core by Clare Smith for an occasion worthy of its foodie theatre. Notting Hill’s pubs have recently suffered brasserie-style overhauls or spruced up cocktail bars (not what the authentics come for), though the Windsor Castle’s gnarled wooden beams, ale-soaked bar and garden crowds puffing away in Mongolian coats has avoided the onslaught and neatly sum up what this blossom-strewn neighbourhood is all about. For best pub grub, it’s a toss up between the Cow on Westbourne Park Road with its fabled pies and seafood, or the Ladbroke Arms, where roasts and hearty game dishes rarely fall short of flawless… and interiors are refreshingly shunning the Instagram brief.
Drink: Notting Hill’s boozers continually take the social temperature – some geared towards the Parisian diaspora populating the smartest streets (the Pelican), most heaving with oversized dogs and their eccentric owners (the Duke of Wellington), and all ablaze with music and an excitable din come Thursday evening. Casa Cruz draws in a chic, international crowd with its heated terrace, maximalist interiors and elaborate cocktails, while Trailer Happiness embraces the neighbourhood’s West Indies identity, with a Tiki twist (expect rum-happy crowds dancing to live music on chairs).