The Vanderbilt's entrance

Past the museums and white stuccoed townhouses of Cromwell Road is the entrance of the four-starred Radisson Edwardian Vanderbilt. It’s brilliantly located for first-time visitors to London, as Hyde Park, the Natural History Museum and shops of Knightsbridge are all within walking distance.

Radisson Vanderbilt foyer 200Browse newspapers and magazines in the hotel foyer
Radisson Edwardian

Despite this tourist-friendly location in the centre of the museum district, this London hotel feels quite business-like; the concierge checks me in without a wait or fuss and the small lobby is quiet; for all its 215 rooms it doesn’t feel like a large hotel.  There are a few little clues to the history of the Grade II-listed building, which is the amalgamation of ten Georgian townhouses built in the 19th century. The past surreptitiously welcomes visitors at every turn, starting with a beautiful fresco in the lobby.

Other features, such as the hotel’s warren-like corridors, the stained glass windows, and the oddly placed doors situated between flights of stairs add a little quirk to the hotel. We sneak a peek at the Vanderbilt suite, which can be used for private dining or business meetings.

Radisson Vanderbilt suite room 200The Vanderbilt suite can be used for private dining
Radisson Edwardian
It’s a sumptuous room - with a beautiful, painted glass window, dark wood panelling, and frescoed ceiling, this is a step back in time, reminiscent of old-world glamour. Despite these historical fixtures, the Vanderbilt is undergoing a gradual revamp and along with rooms being freshened up, the twee blue wallpaper and pastoral scenes hanging in the hallways are being replaced with a darker purple colour scheme and art that’s rather more punchy, making for a jolting mish-mash of styles; you’ll pass from twee to contemporary in the blink of a right turn.

Radisson Vanderbilt room 200A standard room
Radisson Edwardian

My deluxe room is a pleasant surprise, the platter of fresh sliced fruits and copy of the latest Harper’s Bazaar add to the welcome. The room itself is quite large, certainly enough to swing the proverbial cat, plus a king-size bed, two desks and a sofa, although the broken ceiling panel alludes to the need for a refresh.  Unusually, considering the usual dearth of mirrors in most hotel rooms, I’m spoilt for choice here, as there are four in my room; five if you count the en-suite bathroom. The light coming through the large bay window casts a golden glow over the rather royal-looking crimson and cream décor and the black and white photograph (taken by a talented member of staff) of the nearby Natural History Museum makes a nice change from the usual bland hotel art.  The usual mod-cons are present - TV, fridge, kettle, and there is the welcome addition of free Wi-Fi. The only slightly disturbing absence is the unstocked minibar, but I’m assured by hotel staff that this can be stocked to individual tastes.

D and I stop for pre-dinner drinks in the hotel bar – a mojito for me, a Bloody Mary for her. They’ve been imported from the flagship Mayfair hotel which is known for its great cocktails. Whilst reassuringly, this means that much care is taken over the order; unfortunately this means it’s a surprisingly long wait for our drinks. We use the time to take in our surroundings. The bar, quiet on a Sunday night, is kitted out in chestnut leather sofas that we sink into, and the elements of hunter greens and dark woods combine to give an impression that’s part English country house, part cosy gastropub. The few other guests are dressed smartly, and whilst there’s no dress code stipulated, I’d recommend you put some effort in before coming down to dinner and drinks.

Radisson Vanderbilt dining room 200Enjoy food from the British-inspired menu at the 68 86 Bar and Restaurant
Radisson Edwardian

Dinner in the 68-86 restaurant is an altogether more prompt affair, mirrored by a crisp corporate feel and efficient service. Our starters of asparagus and poached duck egg with hollandaise sauce, and scallops with black pudding, are delightful and my main impresses – seared sea bass with new potatoes, green beans and olives is executed well, with the flavours complimenting each other perfectly, although it perhaps could have benefitted from an additional sauce. Unfortunately D’s steak is a bit unevenly done, veering from well done to medium rare in the course of the dish, but we both agree dessert is the winner – the apple tart with ginger ice cream and toffee sauce strikes just the right balance between zingy ginger and sweet apple, and dinner ends on a high note.

Amenities such as the 13 conference rooms, computer suite, free gym and free Wi-Fi make this a great hotel for business guests, but sometimes the Vanderbilt can feel in danger of being overwhelmed by the anaesthetised ambience that pervades so many chain hotels in London. Being located in an area that’s so steeped in cultural heritage, one hopes that the hotel will continue to play up the details that make it special.

Radisson Edwardian Vanderbilt Hotel
68-86 Cromwell Road, London, SW7 5BT
Tel: 020 7761 9000
Rates from £99 excluding VAT and breakfast

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