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The Milestone
Photos and review of the London luxury hotel


Added on June 4, 2012
I had the chance to stay at The Milestone again. It is as fabulous a hotel as ever. 2012 is an extremely busy year. I only managed to get into the Studio Room 408, which was rather small, but as with all Red Carnation Hotels, the attention to detail was impeccable with a custom made carpet from Wiltons, artworks and furniture bought from auction houses, a bed by Patina Italy, fabrics from Pierre Frey and James Hare as well as a gorgeous marble bathroom. With William and Kate, Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, as the new neighbors at the opposite Kensington Palace, which I could see form my room, the area will surely become even more popular in the future. Check my new German article with new photographs.

Article added on October 1, 2005, reviewed in 2005 by Louis Gerber
The city of London is full of luxury hotels. The Milestone is one of them. What separates the average one from the best is service. When I was waiting in the lobby for a friend to pick me up for a piano recital, an attentive receptionist asked me whether I would like to take a (complimentary) bottle of water with me. That's service.

The other distinguishing feature of a leading hotel is attention to detail. For instance, the working desk in my room (302) was decorated with a pot pourri, and there is a steam iron and ironing board in all rooms, if your shirt or trousers need a one-minute fix. These are some of the details that make The Milestone an outstanding member of the exclusive association Leading Small Hotels of the World.

The Milestone Hotel and Apartments are situated at 1, Kensington Court, just opposite the park and palace where Lady Diana used to reside. The Victorian house was designed by John James Stevenson (1831-1908) and constructed by Holland and Hennen in 1883-1884 with red bricks and pink terracotta dressings in the Flemish revival manner. It is a listed building full of history.

The original dwelling on this site, Kensington House, was built around 1689 and occupied by Foot Onslow, a Commissioner of Excise under William III. His son, Arthur Onslow (1691-1768) was the Speaker of the House of Commons for 33 years, the third family member to hold this office. In 1698, Onslow sub-let the property to George Davenant, an officer in the Royal Bodyguard. He was a boaster and a braggart who claimed to be the grandson of William Shakespeare. Davenant pretended being the product of a dalliance with the Bard of Avon which his grandmother had enjoyed whenever the poet stopped at an inn she and her husband ran on the London to Stratford Road.

From George Davenant, Kensington House passed to Lady Susan Belasyse, who in youth had been a mistress of James II. In the middle of the 18th century, it was occupied by the Russian Ambassador in London, Count Peter Grigorevich Chernyshev. His daughter, Natalia, lived to the biblical age of 96 and achieved immortality as the prototype of the Countess in Pushkin's Queen of Spades.

From 1830, Kensington House was occupied as a private lunatic asylum. In 1856, it was operated as an academy for young gentlemen. Subsequently, it served as a Jesuit seminary run by the French Prince Charles Victor de Broglio. Among its pupils, it numbered the future King of France, Louis Philippe.

After the occupation as an asylum, Kensington House was replaced by a second mansion of the same name. It was constructed by the company promoter Baron Albert Grant, the founder of Leicester Square and financier of Milan's Galleria Vittorio Emanuele, upon which the title of Baron was given to him by the Italian's. At the same time, Grant was considered a dubious promoter. The Kensington House project cost shareholders £24m. £20m of which was never seen again. Grant's white elephant was replaced in 1883-1884 by today's mansion.

Among the notable occupant's of the new house was the diplomat and author John Freeman-Mitford, the first Baron Redesdale (1748-1830), an unpopular Lord Chancellor of Ireland and an ancestor of the famous Mitford sisters. About 1922, The house passed into hotel use. Some three years later, it was joined by No. 2, Kensington Court, which had been occupied from its construction in 1883-1884 to designs by T. G. Jackson by John Athelstan Laurie Riley (1858-1945), an Evangelical Lutheran hymn writer and gentleman of private fortune.

In its years as a hotel, The Milestone has known a number of interesting guests. Among them was Harold "Jumbo" Davidson, the eccentric Rector of Stiffkey, who achieved the honor of an obituary in the then still venerable Times because he had been unfrocked, starved in a barrel and thrown to the lions.

In 1933, The Milestone accommodated some 2000 guests who had been invited to attend the marriage in Brompton Oratory of Margaret Wighman to the American businessman Charles Sweeney. Mrs Sweeny, afterwards the Duchess of Argyll, was immortalized by Cole Porter in his song You're the Top [details corrected on June 4, 2012]:

You're the nimble tread of the feet of Fred Astaire
You're Mussolini
You're Mrs Sweeny
You're Camembert


In August 1986, The Milestone Hotel suffered severe damage in a fire of unknown origin. At the time owned by Middle Eastern Concern, it had been empty for two years. The blaze took three hours to control. Subsequently, the owner's let the building deteriorate even further. The roof and the upper floors were left open to the weather. In 1987, the hotel was sold to another hotel group. In the late 1990s, The Red Carnation Hotel Collection took over The Milestone and, in 1999, reopened it, completely refurbished and fully restored to its architectural splendor.

By the way, The Milestone Hotel takes its name from the old cast iron milestone which stands in its original position within the site of 1, Kensington Court. Whereas its Cheneston Restaurant is named after the original pronunciation for the borough now known as Kensington.



[Updated on June 4, 2012: With its 12 suites, 44 deluxe guestrooms and 6 long-stay apartments] The Milestone is intimate enough to offer a personalized service, to have the staff know and care about you. The decor by Bea Tollman is very British, often theme-based and with theatrical flair. Enjoy an afternoon tea at the Park Lounge with the view on Kensington Palace and Gardens, a library with 19th century books and a cozy fireplace. You can have dinner in the intimate Oratory, adjacent to the Cheneston Restaurant. It is the mansion's ex-chapel.

All rooms are unique. The studios and suites are theme based. For instance, chose between the Military, Ascot, Botanical and Margaret Rose studio. Room 605, the Paris Studio, is decorated in black and onyx Luttece fabric. It blends classic design with state of the art technology including pop up television and electronic blinds. The bathroom is equipped with a Jacuzzi, separate shower and second television set. The Paris Studio's two skylights enhance the room's brightness. Last but not least, it enjoys panoramic views across Kensington Palace and Gardens.

The Savile Row room is decorated with pinstripe and a half-finished suit on a tailor's mannequin. The Safari Suite is bamboo bound, features a King bed under a colonial ceiling fan and is decorated with Safari print fabric, wildlife paintings, Africa wicker baskets and ornate ostrich eggs. Comfort is added to this theme suite by an original chesterfield and mahogany furniture. The Safari Suite offers a panoramic view across Kensington Palace and Gardens.

Room 106, the Prince Albert Suite is a spacious high ceiling suite with original leaded Victorian windows, again overlooking Kensington Gardens and Palace. It features a Kind size four-poster bed and an elegant seating area including a chaise longue. The large bathroom has a separate shower, Jacuzzi and television. The Prince Albert Suite's very special feature is its ornate balcony, perfect for entertaining.

Room 208, The Club Suite, is a duplex Grand Suite with unique floor to ceiling windows overlooking Kensington Palace and Gardens. The upstairs salon features an antique billiard table, a spacious seating area and ensuite restroom. The red and gold walls and leopard print carpet add a touch of luxury and comfort to The Club Suite.

A contemporary extravaganza in The Milestone is the black and white conservatory, a fantasy reminiscent of the Royal Ascot scene from My Fair Lady. It's another creation by interior designer Bea Tollman.

The Milestone's health club - in addition to the usual sauna, bicycles, treadmills, weights, the latest cardiovascular equipment, stepping, rowing and other machines - features a resistance swimming pool.

The hotel's second townhouse at Kensington Court has been transformed into six fully furnished luxury two bedroom apartments. They are fully equipped and have signing privileges for all The Milestones Hotel services, including Butler service, 24 hour room service, Health Club and Infinity Pool, etc.

Kensington is one of London's poshest areas. Sightseeing and cultural attractions are nearby. Kensington Palace and Gardens are just opposite the hotel. The Italian Gardens were commissioned by Queen Victoria. The peace of the park is sharp contrast to the activity in Hyde Park just a short walk away. One of the park's best loved features is the charming bronze statue of Peter Pan standing on a pedestal covered with climbing mice, rabbits and squirrels.

Today, the Royal residence of Kensington Palace accommodates the offices and London residences of The Duke and Duchess of Gloucester, The Duke and Duchess of Kent and Prince and Princess Michael of Kent. Princess Margaret, Diana, Princess of Wales and Princess Alice, Duchess of Gloucester used to live in Kensington Palace and have their offices there. In the memory of Lady Diana, Kensington Park features the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Playground and a seven-mile Memorial Walk, which goes through several London parks.

Last but not least, Kensington Palace was the home of William III and Mary II. Their daughter, Queen Victoria, was born in Kensington Palace and lived here until she became Queen of England in 1837. Historic parts of Kensington Palace are open to the public. Furthermore, Kensington Palace hosts the Royal Ceremony Dress Collection, with items from the 18th century to the present.

Behind Kensington Gardens is Notting Hill, a tourist attraction not only because of the romantic comedy of the same name starring Julia Roberts and Hugh Grant, but also because of the colorful Notting Hill Carnival. Notting Hill's weekly highlight is the famous antique's market on Saturdays in Portobello Road.

Other attractions close to The Milestone include the Albert Memorial, commissioned by Queen Victoria in memory of her husband who died in 1861 of typhoid fever at the age of 42. Finally, Royal Albert Hall, where the legendary BBC Proms concerts take place in summer and early autumn, a must for (not only classical) music lovers, is only a short walk away from the hotel.

Back to The Milestone:
Among the many accolades the hotel has received so far, let's mention that in 2002, it received The Commitment to Quality Award by The Leading Hotels of the World as The Best Hotel in Europe, out of 41 Leading Hotels in the World. In 2002, The Milestone also received the prestigious London Tourism Award for Hotel of the Year in 2002 in the Small Hotel category, under sixty bedrooms. Furthermore, The Milestone was only the third hotel in London to receive the "Five-Star Diamond Award" for Service Excellence and Hospitality by the American Academy of Hospitality Sciences, joining The Dorchester and The Lanesborough. In 2002, the Academy also awarded The Milestone as "London's Best Boutique Hotel."


View of the resistance swimming pool. Photo © The Milestone Hotel and Apartments, London.


The Milestone. 1, Kensington Court. Two gracious 19th century townhouses.
Photo © The Milestone Hotel and Apartments, London.




The Mistinguette Junior Suite. Photo © The Milestone Hotel and Apartments, London.


The Harlequin Studio Room. Photos © The Milestone Hotel and Apartments, London.


Prince Albert Suite. Photo © The Milestone Hotel and Apartments, London.


The Viscount Junior Suite. Photos © The Milestone Hotel and Apartments, London.


The Club Master Suite. Photo © The Milestone Hotel and Apartments, London.


Afternoon tea in the Lounge. Photos © The Milestone Hotel and Apartments, London.


The Milestone Apartment no. 3. Photo © The Milestone Hotel and Apartments, London.

Deutsch Politik Geschichte Kunst Film Musik Lebensart Reisen
English Politics History Art Film Music Lifestyle Travel
Français Politique Histoire Arts Film Musique Artdevivre Voyages

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© Copyright www.cosmopolis.ch  Louis Gerber  All rights reserved.