The visitor to London will find a plethora of pastimes and indulgences close by, wherever deciding to set up camp. But a gem of a hotel off Brompton Road in Knightsbridge offers a rare choice of mixing culture with commerce, sitting discretely among such institutions as Harrods and the Victoria & Albert Museum, Harvey Nicholl’s and the Saatchi Gallery to name just a few. And for those who are inclined to enjoy this from the lush comforts of a boutique hotel, The Franklin will be hard to dismiss.
Sometimes, remaking the present begins with revisiting the past. It is as if The Franklin’s romance recalls a gilded age with Anouska Hempel’s elegantly opulent interiors achieving the seemingly impossible in this new Knightsbridge hotel. You may well argue that her embroidered furnishings, Venetian stone floors and filigree silverware capture the spirit of a glorious bygone era and yet, they create something entirely modern.
However, it isn’t just epochs that come together effortlessly here. The Franklin Hotel is as quintessentially English as its neighbours, Harrods and the V&A. But alongside the informal English townhouse ambience and relaxing London-garden views there are other more sensual, Eastern influences. A Hammam greets guests as part of our state-of-the art wellbeing offering and the bedrooms’ rich silks and cottons reveal The Franklin’s devotion to luxurious living that touches every sense.
Unsurprisingly there are features reminiscent of the hotel’s sister, Blakes, and the forthcoming new hotel Monsieur George opening in Paris, and in many ways this hotel is also throwing its cap at foreign lands – in this case: Italy. Apart from Italian gastronomy, the sober sandstone bathrooms with rooms of lush décor somehow manage to reflect iconic images of Loren and Lollobrigida who could hardly fault the taffeta-and-velvet-bedecked dining room, and the glittering and intimate mirrored bar.
The Franklin’s very high standards of personalized service with Les Clefs d'Or concierges are immediately felt when entering the intimate foyer. With a 24-hour room service and a team dedicated to organizing unforgettable experiences for the guests you feel very much looked after. But alternatively, you may well opt for staying in, to relax in a spectacular hammam, exercise in the fitness center or simply read a book in the cosy library.
Enjoying the comfort of the Executive Suite for our stay we are told every one of the 35 spacious rooms and suites, including the 62 m2 Presidential Suite, the hotel’s ultimate distillation of elegance and style, is flooded with light and exquisitely furnished. And despite influences from far and wide this place is delightfully English: in amongst the elite of Knightsbridge’s best, with Egerton gardens at the back with its vivid green manicured gardens lining the period buildings. This elegant Victorian building embraces the beauty and calm of the private gardens, with their glorious London Plane trees which the garden rooms can enjoy in a seasonal spectacle.
It doesn’t come as a surprise that gourmets from London and abroad now consider the Franklin Restaurant to be an essential destination. Here diners can enjoy a superb Italian inspired gastronomic experience created by Michelin-starred chef Alfredo Russo infusing in its dishes all its vitality and sensitivity to the most genuine flavors. Named by L’Espresso Guide as Italy’s Best young Chef early in his career, Alfredo Russo is renowned for creating simple, elegant dishes that delight and amaze with unusual, often surprising flavour combinations.
But apart from an indulgent dining experiences there are other ways to appreciate The Franklin’s commitment to excellence in gastronomy. Its selection of breakfast items leaves little to be desired and we were duly impressed with the response to a somewhat idiosyncratic request for a freshly squeezed beetroot, ginger and apple juice.
The building for this new hotel was acquired by Italian entrepreneur Elisabetta Fabri, President and CEO of the Italian group Starhotels, and The Franklin is entirely designed by Anouska Hempel making extensive use of Carrara marble by Lapicida, with which she launched a new collection of accessories here, drawing on classical inspirations and capturing the duality of a material which is both structural and highly decorative. “Where I am in the world, I start every project with stone”, she says “it is the building block of my style. I am intuitively drawn to its nature and decorative potential. The pieces I have designed with Lapicida can be used in so many ways – and stone makes them truly timeless”
These pieces, we find, are somehow comforting and soothing in their grandeur and stability within the walls of this hotel, timeless if you like. To capture a glimpse of a good life, free from the limitations of everyday stress of time, there are fewer places better suited than The Franklin.