There’s no need to dream about home when staying at The Other House. As you awake from your slumber in your comfortable king-size bed, you too will feel like you are at a home away from home in leafy Harrington Gardens, Kensington.
The brand concept combines a hotel, members’ club, and apartments into one convenient address. Unlike a traditional hotel, The Other House provides a residential-based approach to hospitality. The aim is for guests to feel like residents in their own home, while also having a public space where people can enjoy the facilities.
This unique concept suits a variety of people that wish to use The Other House as a pied-à-terre but want the option of hotel services. One such demographic includes those that left London during the pandemic for a life in the country, but are returning for a few nights. Or, the international traveller that prefers a London home-style of living for a longer stay. It’s also ideal for those that simply want to spend a night or weekend in the capital. At The Other House, you can live like a local regardless of the duration of your stay.
MUCH more than a hotel
As you walk through the main doors, you’re struck by the decadent lobby designed by Bergman Design House. You are greeted by the very best in British design and craftsmanship. The creation of Bergman co-founder and artist Marie Soliman, the works are a bespoke update of over 100 existing 18th-century oil paintings. Soliman has combined bold, bright colours and a sense of humour with the muted oil paintings, breathing new life into the pieces while creating a cohesive scheme in every room.
Imagine being inside a painting by early Renaissance painter, Sandro Botticelli. Your visual senses experience a rich tapestry of sumptuous reds, yellows, blue and greens. It’s not only your visual senses that are treated to the splendours of the lobby, but your sense of smell is also heightened with the aroma of fresh flowers.
The property consists of 11 Victorian townhouses that have been renovated and redesigned to house 250 apartments. These apartments or Club Flats as they are referred to range from studio-style flats to three bedrooms. For larger groups of six or more occupants, it’s possible to interconnect different configurations of apartments. For example, you can have two, three or four Club Flats in one secluded area behind a single door.
The extensive property also includes private dining rooms and event spaces. The Private Club includes a screening room, two bars, a vitality pool and a gym. The pool looks onto a beautiful atrium where there are full-size trees planted. A great place to enjoy a drink, relax or work.
There is even a post room that will accept parcels or post for you and place them into secure lockers. It’s also where they will accept your takeaway deliveries from local restaurants. This in turn keeps the reception area smelling of fresh flowers rather than the curry you just ordered!
O’Brien Flat 14 at The Other House
Each Club Flat has its own unique address, unlike a conventional hotel room number. As I emerge from the lift onto my floor, I notice that one end of the corridor is green with a sign ‘O’Brien’. The other end is red and signposted ‘Marley’. These corridors represent ‘streets’ and the names refer to well-known people that once lived in this historic neighbourhood. The street names consist of an equal number of men and women chosen from a long list of former Kensington residents, including Bob Marley, Dame Agatha Christie, and Princess Diana Spencer.
As one enters the modestly sized room (23 sqm) there is a teal-coloured modern kitchenette with a sink, integrated fridge freezer and an oven. There is also a small circular dining table. The sitting area consists of a luxurious blue velvet sofa with scatter cushions, a contrasting orange woollen tweed throw, coffee table and a flat screen television on the wall. A black ornate metal screen separates the sitting area from the bedroom. The bedroom has a comfortable king-size bed with ample wardrobe space. The private bathroom has a spacious rain shower.
Wellness: The Other Space
I had been dreaming of using the vitality pool all day; traveling on London’s underground in the heatwave takes its toll to say the least. The Other Space is ideal for anyone seeking sanctuary from the demands of city life. With its green roofs and trees in the atrium, the environment promotes both physical and mental well-being. Relax in the vitality pool, while admiring the clean aesthetics of its design. There is also a sauna, and steam room. The music will also help you get into the right frame of mind. It’s curated by DJ Fat Tony, one of London’s well-known faces in the music scene. Fat Tony has created a playlist of his favourite songs for various parts of The Other House.
When you first walk into the pool area you will notice how warm the temperature is. This is intentionally set to relax the muscles when entering or leaving any of the other spa facilities. Aside from the impressive pool area, the spa offers a range of facilities including a state-of-the-art gym and a yoga studio. You can also book wellness classes and spa treatments.
The Other House App
Guests also have complete control of their stay. Once The Other House App has been downloaded, all manner of tasks and requests will be managed at the tap of your mobile phone. You will be able to do anything from checking-in or out to summoning the lift, adjusting the lighting, or operating the air conditioning inside the flat – and that’s even before you’ve set a foot inside the building! You will even be able to unlock the front door to your Club Flat. You can also use the App to reserve a table at one of the bars, book the spa or check how busy the fitness centre is.
This pioneering approach is a unique luxury lifestyle offering where the guest chooses how much or little interaction is required during their stay.
Sustainability: Making a positive impact
Commitment to sustainability is high on the agenda at The Other House. Their aim is to provide a positive impact on both environmental and social issues for both residents and the public alike. To begin with, the refurbishment of the historic building uses eco-conscious building materials. Also, by choosing British-made materials, it reduces the carbon footprint.
Food also plays an important part in environmental responsibilities at The Other House. For example, food is sourced from within the UK, a low-waste kitchen is run and only seasonal sustainable food is served. The Other House’s concern for the environment extends further with the use of their App. The App enables payment-based transactions to be as paperless as possible. Guests can also use the App to monitor their energy usage – by making measured changes, the guests can contribute by saving energy during their stay.
Another example of where The Other House is doing things differently is with housekeeping. A full housekeeping of the Club Flat is undertaken once a week with ‘lite’ housekeeping duties carried out daily. The guest can alter the frequency and type of housekeeping using the App to pay for the service.
One of the little gems of The Other House is The Library. This small room with comfortable sofas and armchairs has a collection of books chosen by the journalist, broadcaster and author, Pandora Sykes. It’s a space that the public can also enjoy.
Owl and Monkey Bar
I head downstairs to the stylish looking Owl and Monkey cocktail bar. According to Simon Drake, the General Manager, the venue’s name relates to the wise owl that cares for people and the planet and the curious monkey who looks for new experiences. Curiosity gets the better of me as I order the signature cocktail called Monkey See, Monkey Do. This cocktail together with the others on the menu have been created by Flavio Russo, the Bar Manager. The drink contains Brumbu rum, Umeshu yuzu sake, clarified milk, freshly squeezed pineapple juice and Two Drifters overproof spiced pineapple rum. A delicious drink, not too dissimilar to a piña colada.
The choice of spirit brand is an example of the wise owl’s concern for sustainability. For example, brands like Two Drifters have a carbon-free footprint in their production process. Russo goes further in helping the environment by not using lime. The citrus fruit has a high carbon footprint due to the distance involved in importing them from the tropics and subtropical parts of the world. Instead, the Russo uses native sea buckthorn, broken down into a liquid and used for its citrus characteristics.
There are certain cocktails available where you can choose to have a non-alcoholic version made using brands like Tanqueray Alcohol Free. Since Covid, the popularity of non-alcoholic drinks has increased. Drake believes that this is going to be the next big trend in the drinks industry.
My curiosity extends beyond the cocktail menu as I look to order some light bites. The dishes are made using seasonal, local, and sustainable ingredients. There are also some vegan options available. I order the following small plates of food: mint lamb and cumin kebabs with apricot harissa, and parsley, a slow cooked rib of beef sandwich with horseradish, and sorrel, roasted aubergine in a red miso, soy and sesame sauce and The Other House sausage roll. The dishes look and taste delicious with the lamb kebabs being my favourite; there is a multitude of flavours in each mouthful of succulent tender lamb.
I finish off with a dry gin martini – a benchmark cocktail I often use to assess just how good a bar is. The mixologist proceeds to make the martini stirred and strained into a chilled martini glass using Tanqueray, Belsazar vermouth, a single drop of Angostura orange bitters and a lemon twist to garnish. A delightful drink that hit all the right notes.
Private Member’s Club
All residents have exclusive access to the club facilities available at The Other House. These include the designer bars Hogsmire and The Keeping Room, which are both due to open in September, a movie room called The Den and the wellness and fitness facilities at The Other Space.
The Keeping Room is a decadent vaulted room with a grand piano. Inside the elegant space is a beautiful wooden cabinet with glass panels where you can store and lock a bottle of your special tipple with a brass key. You simply help yourself to your purchased bottle as and when needed – you are the keyholder after all! There are also rooms for small groups to enjoy a drink or perhaps to have a clandestine meeting behind the privacy of the red, thick velvet curtain.
There are a limited number of memberships available for the Private Members’ Club. Full membership starts from £1500 per year with a one-off joining fee of £350 (inc VAT).
Breakfast at the Other Kitchen
After a good night’s sleep, I make my way to The Other Kitchen for breakfast. It has a street-café décor and vibe to it. This morning I’m in the mood for a slice of sourdough bread with mashed avocado, smoked salmon, and a poached egg on top. The dark Americano coffee has a welcome layer of crema. A small buffet is also available consisting of various pastries, muesli, and cereal.
The breakfast menu is not extensive and there isn’t much scope to order say eggs in a different style. Drake mentions that the breakfast and lunch menus are intentionally scaled back at The Other Kitchen to avoid food wastage. The restaurant industry typically wastes 20-30% of the food they prepare. Instead, the focus of the kitchen is on sustainability. It will use off-cuts as well as utilise any leftover produce like fruit for other areas such as the bar.
In a nutshell
The team already has their sights set on the next project – The Other House Covent Garden, which is due to open in Spring 2024. With other properties planned, The Other House will soon become a familiar brand.
What better brand association than one that is taking a fresh approach to luxury accommodation and hospitality, which is also sustainable. This is both refreshing and timely. Unlike Dorothy, there’s no need to click your heels. Kick off those ruby red slippers with reckless abandonment and relax those feet – you’re at home now.
To discover more, visit: otherhouse.com
View this post on Instagram
Imagery courtesy of The Other House / Bergman Design House.