| The Abbey Court Hotel
A town house hotel in London
Abbey Court Hotel, 20 Pembridge Gardens, near Notting Hill Gate underground station
Article added on February 3, 2004
The Abbey Court Hotel in London is a fine example of a true town house hotel, meeting the definition of both the Automobile Association and the English Tourism Council.
In its "AA Star-Rating and Awards" section, the Automobile Association defines it as follows: "This classification denotes small, personally run town-centre hotels which concentrate on privacy, high-quality room service and luxuriously furnished bedrooms and suites. They often do not have the public rooms for formal dining arrangements traditionally associated with hotels, but are usually in areas well served by restaurants."
The Abbey Court is an early Victorian town house from the 1830s. A private mansion until the 1960s, when it was converted into a hotel, The Abbey Court was last refurbished in 1996.
Located at 20 Pembridge Gardens, the hotel is within walking distance of Notting Hill Gate underground station. If you rely on public transport, you have no problems visiting London from the hotel.
Just around the corner is Portobello Road with its antique dealers. Even more popular is the antiques and collectors market in Portobello Road, which takes place on Saturdays. The additional stallholders attract large crowds of locals and tourists in search for a bargain. Kensington Church Street with its nice restaurants and antique shops is within walking distance of the hotel too.
Notting Hill is also well-known for its African-Caribbean street carnival, which first took place in the 1960s, evoking the Trinidad Carnival. It takes place every August Bank Holiday weekend and draws crowds of half a million people to the area between Chepstow Road and Ladbroke Grove. Steel bands, reggae, calypso and soul create a unique atmosphere.
The area of Notting Hill became internationally famous and fashionable since the romantic comedy of 1999 of the same name, starring Julia Roberts as famous actress and Hugh Grant as humble book shop owner (get the film on DVD from Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.de, Amazon.fr, Directmedia Schweiz).
The atmosphere at The Abbey Court is less the one of a hotel as the one of a private home, your home. You come and leave as a friend, not as a customer. Before he rose to fame, the fashion designer John Galliano was a regular guest. In 1996, he stayed for three weeks and wrote about it: "The Abbey Court Hotel understands the true meaning of comfort and privacy." In addition to tourists, the hotel is popular with models, designers, media people, entertainers and singers.
The advantages of a town house hotel such as The Abbey Court are its ambiance and intimacy, which results in high return visitors. These independent hotels have no high marketing budget and a low turnover of staff. The one person at the reception takes care of almost everything.
Since the early 2000's, bigger companies realised the advantages of such small hotels with a 24-hour room service but often no restaurant and began to advertise themselves as town house hotels, without offering the same intimacy. The Abbey Court Hotel offers only 22 rooms (singles, doubles and four-posters). If you find big hotels with over seventy rooms, you can be sure that they do not meet the definition of a true town house hotel, even if they promote themselves as such.
Before the terrorist attacks of September 11, The Abbey Court relied heavily on American and Japanese guests. Despite the setback in tourism, the owners renovated in 2003 some of the rooms, all bathrooms, public areas and stairs, to keep up the high standard. All rooms are individually furnished, with classical decoration in deep blue, gold, cream or pink that goes beyond day fashion. The Italian marble bathrooms offer showers and Jacuzzi jet baths, adding a touch of luxury.
The Abbey Court offers complimentary shortbread and water in all rooms every day, in addition to the complimentary tea, coffee or drink upon arrival. The 24-hour room service offers small snacks (which I have not tested). In short, town house hotels such as The Abbey Court are an interesting alternative to the traditional four star hotels.
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The entrance. Photo © Abbey Court Hotel.
The Red Room. Photo © Abbey Court Hotel.
Four-Poster Room. Photo © Abbey Court Hotel.