My wife and I recently had the pleasure of spending a night at the stunningly beautiful Baglioni Hotel London in Kensington.
To make our stay even more memorable, we also had the chance to join a fun-filled night of cocktails and conversation as part of the hotel’s Italian Aperitivo Masterclass just before its eagerly-anticipated public launch. Suffice to say, the chance to slip into a luxurious suite after an evening of cocktail making and posh Italian bites made us feel a little bit like the royalty close by in Kensington Palace!
Kensington, if you have not been already, is a wonderful area of London.
Not only is it filled with history, but also contains a cluster of major museums like the Natural History Museum, the V&A and the Science Museum.
This genteel neighbourhood is also the home of the Royal Albert Hall, watched over by the impressively gothic style of the Albert Memorial. All these world-class cultural attractions are easily reached from the hotel which is just a short walk away.
After the stresses and strains of the London Underground, we were happy to be welcomed on arrival in a way that immediately made us feel at home.
The reception team were all smiles, as well as being helpful and interested in our plans for our stay. Throughout our visit, the staff at the hotel could not have done more for us. It was quite clear that their mission was to make our stay as comfortable as possible.
After being shown to our room, we were immediately ensconced in fully-immersive luxury in every sense.
We were taken through the room’s amenities, including a spectacular bathroom sporting mood lighting, a chill-out lounge designed to ensconce you in total comfort, and a welcoming bedroom which promised a delicious night of deep slumber that evening.
But the moment we walked into our Baglioni Suite, I couldn’t help but be distracted by the amazing views of Hyde Park from our window.
The autumn trees swayed gently in the soft breeze, as the iconic red buses and black cabs passed by, giving us a memorable image of a city that could be none other than London in autumn.
Later that evening, we came down to Brunello Bar and Restaurant for our ‘Aperitivo Masterclass’, a unique event we had been looking forward to for months!
And we already got a hint of the treat in store as we watched the skilled barmen limber up by skilfully setting up our positions at the bar (for this was going to be a fully-interactive experience jumping on either side of the bar!).
Our fellow participants were in fine spirits and eager to learn about the history and technique behind the classic Italian cocktails that we were presented with, and then to have the unique opportunity of having a go at actually trying to create them!
There were three cocktails on the agenda, though the great thing about the Masterclass was that it was informal and laid-back, so you could make your own requests too.
We began with the classic Aperol Spritz which is a favourite of Venice, a drink that flows deep in the veins of that city.
This was followed up with the Prescription – a sweet ‘medicine’ indeed, apparently given that name because of the extract of “medicinal” mushrooms that contributed to its unique tart flavour.
This drink matched especially well with the luxurious Italian finger food that began arriving at opportune moments, including classic Sicilian arancini (crisp and delicate on the outside while melting in the mouth delightfully as you bit into them) together with an exquisite Milanese risotto, among other treats.
Last, but by no means least we were presented with the “No. 60”. An amazing cocktail made with pride and precision, and given the name No.60 due to the hotel holding the residence at No.60 Hyde Park Gate. It is their ‘house drink’ requested by the regulars of Brunello Bar as well as Kensington locals in the know.
As light jazz music played in the background, we chatted long into the evening, fully immersed in the Italian Aperitivo culture of slow food, quality drinks and relaxed conversation.
We learned that while this celebrated ritual is most strongly associated with Milan, it is practised in different forms all over the country. I couldn’t help but feel totally transported back to Italy, while sitting here in a setting that was geographically and culturally right in the heart of London bang opposite Hyde Park.
No wonder the Baglioni Hotel London is described as the ‘Italian heart beating in the centre of London’!
It was a fun and educational evening which I cannot recommend highly enough. And the good news is that the Italian Aperitivo Masterclass is now open to all!
Get the details here and book early because it is sure to be popular.
In my view the Aperitivo Masterclass is a wonderful gift to give to a loved one, because it’s a pleasure both of you can share in together and just so much fun!
It’s also a great experience to add onto your hotel stay because it adds a sociable element, whether you are travelling as a couple or alone. We made so many wonderful friends!
So after a satisfying night’s sleep and a delightfully varied breakfast served with Italian flair in our room, we reluctantly checked out of the Baglioni London.
Our experience at Baglioni Hotel London lived up to its promise of a uniquely Italian expression of hospitality, whether in terms of décor, service or the delectable food and drink on offer.
We left with amazing memories of the sort of stay you remember for many years – precious to us because we were celebrating an anniversary. I cannot think of a better hotel for a special occasion.
The hotel has managed to stay true to its Italian heritage by building on the tradition of London and has flourished to occupy a corner of Hyde Park that it has made it its own. Unfortunately we ran out of time but will certainly be back next time for their Afternoon Tea with an Italian Twist!
Thank you Baglioni Hotel London for our unforgettable stay.
Feature photo credit: Baglioni Hotels
—Aaron Crossley is a Heritage Professional, writing and commenting on how governments and organizations protect and conserve our global heritage. Follow him on Twitter and read his blog on Venice at http://keystovenice.wordpress.com/
To find out about the next Aperitivo Masterclass and for further information contact: