Midtown - the area formerly known as Holborn - is having a moment says Kaye Holland
Holborn – that incongruous area between the City and the West End – was rebranded by Boris Johnson, London’s larger than life mayor, as Midtown in 2010.
Back then people sniggered and scoffed that a snazzy ‘New York style’ new name couldn’t – and wouldn’t – disguise the fact that Holborn – once a favourite haunt of Charles Dickens – was off limits.
Fast forward five years and it looks like the blonde king’s prophecy has come true: Midtown is now firmly on the map. The area east of Oxford Street has transformed itself from a dreary wasteland of office blocks and ‘chain’ shops into somewhere where you actually want to eat, drink and even sleep.
Rosewood London – the five-star hotel on High Holborn – is arguably the property that has helped catapult Midtown onto the world stage once more (during the Roaring Twenties the area was popular with London’s movers and shakers including authors Virginia Woolf and E M Forster, economist John Maynard Keynes and Victorian biographer Lytton Strachey).
Nobody can deny that when it comes to luxury, Rosewood Hotels and Resorts know how to put on a show – they have been doing it for decades in America. However the Rosewood London – housed in a beautiful 1914 Belle Epoque building that was once the headquarters of Pearl Assurance – is the group’s first foray in the UK.
All of the 262 rooms and 44 suite suites elate but if you’re of the opinion that big is better, then the Grand Manor House Wing – a suite that makes Buckingham Palace look like a Travelodge – is the one to go for. It’s the first hotel suite on the planet to have its own postcode (W1CV 7DZ, if you’re interested). The £25,000 a night suite is said to be seven times larger than the average British home and boasts six bedrooms, film star worthy bathrooms, several sitting rooms and a library. Oh and the suite has a dedicated 24/7 butler. Little wonder then that it’s always full – booking the grand manor house wing can be as challenging as getting a table at Chiltern Firehouse.
Assuming you decide to leave your suite (which is admittedly isn’t easy, but you’ll need to eat), the cuisine proves a major draw. Holborn Dining Room – the latest venture from Des McDonaldformally of The Ivy – is the official restaurant but there are lots of places to eat including the marvellous Mirror Room (afternoon tea here is a treat) and Scarfes Bar. Designed by Martin Brudunizki, the latter – named after the famed political cartoonist Gerald Scarfe – with its marbled walls and elaborate cocktail menu, resembles the kind of place one imagines Don Draper would head if he were in town.
But it’s not all at about Rosewood London. Urban explorers who don’t like too much fuss will want to head to The Hoxton Holborn Hotel – the latest branch of The Hoxton Hotel which shook up Shoreditch when it opened in 2006 with its spaces selling AeroPress coffee to customers seemingly out of an Abercrombie ad (think casual yet cool clothes) in need of a caffeine fix in between meetings clustered around their MacBook Airs. Much like its East end locale, The Hoxton Holborn – located in a what was a model toy shop on High Holborn – boasts a cheerfulCheeky Parlour beauty salon and two Nick ‘Soho House’ Jones dining venues. Say hello toHubbard & Bell, a Brooklyn-style grill serving man food (big portions of all kinds of meats, truffle chips and banana splits) and The Chicken Shop which, as its name suggest, specialises in irresistible chicken.
Google clearly thinks the area is on the up” the search giant is set to unveil its ambitious new London HQ here in 2017. Inclined to agree with Google? Check out the £350 million conversion of Centre Point into a high end (in every sense of the word) tower block.
Bottom line? Holborn is hot right now boasting as it does, a buzzier night vibe than the city and being within easy access of the West End’s shops. And with the opening of Crossrail stations within walking distance of Midtown at Tottenham Court Road and Farringdon in 2017, the area it only going get more sizzling still.
Make no mistake: Midtown is on the move…