Brown’s was opened in 1837 by James Brown, butler to Romantic poet, hedonist and freedom-fighter Lord Byron. The first British telephone call was made from here in 1876, five years after Napoleon III and Empress Eugenie took refuge in one of the considerable suites after fleeing the Third Republic. Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie and Rudyard Kipling were also guests.
The bedrooms are all large and extremely comfortable, furnished with original art, collections of books and, in the suites, fireplaces; its elegant, classic British hotel restaurant, Hix Mayfair, gives a nod to modernity with a series of contemporary British artworks, including pieces by the likes of Tracey Emin and Bridget Riley, but the public spaces of the hotel thrum with history. Non-residents can visit: try the afternoon tea in the English Tea Room or sip a cocktail in the classily masculine Donovan Bar.