English Essence

With butlers instead of bellboys, this 'little' hotel shines

By: Chuck Wills

LONDON Discriminating business travelers and well-heeled tourists looking for a smart, intimate, boutique hotel in central London will find what they seek at “41.”

Located between the Mayfair and Victoria areas, 41 is a scone’s throw from Buckingham Palace and a short taxi ride from West End theaters. Victoria Station is a three-minute walk from the hotel.

When 41 opened in 2000 it offered guests an all-inclusive rate. But, during a recent hosted stay there, 41’s manager Chantal Morand said that the all-inclusive concept “didn’t catch on.” So the hotel reopened in March with the aim of providing guests with the ambience and amenities of a private club, with an emphasis on personal service.

In addition to concierge services and twice-daily maid service, 41 offers butler service. And there’s 24-hour room service and a “whatever, whenever” button on the room phone.

The hotel has only 18 rooms 14 “Executive King” rooms at a rack rate of about $350, three junior suites at $640 and a master suite at $800.

The hotel’s decor features a black-and-white motif, with mahogany and dark leather nicely balanced by white wall treatments and bed linens, and enhanced by African art a reflection of the South African heritage of the principals of the Red Carnation Group, 41’s owner. The beds handmade and fitted with Egyptian cotton linens are to die for.

Every room has a gas fireplace, a minibar, and guest-controlled heating and cooling. Marble baths feature a waterfall shower (with excellent water pressure, something not to be taken for granted in London), separate tub, heated towel rack and bath products from none other than Penhaligon’s.

With no name to indicate its existence, save the number 41 on the street facade, the hotel nestles against its next-door big sibling, the 172-room Rubens Hotel, also owned by the Red Carnation Group. Guests at 41 can sign for drinks and meals in the Rubens’ several restaurants, lounges and bars.

Another privilege of a stay at 41 is the ability to sign for drinks and meals at Bbar, the very hip restaurant next door.

Red Carnation also operates the Milestone in Kensington, the Chesterfield in Mayfair and the Montague in Bloomsbury.