When eighteenth-century essayist William Hazlitt inconveniently passed away at No.6 Frith Street, his landlady shoved his body under the bed in order to show the room to a potential tenant. I wonder if it was mine as I climb into one of the antique, but incredibly comfortable beds – a gilded Louis XVI French number in the ‘Mrs Teresa Cornelys*’ room – but don’t care. The bed is just one of the joys of this eighteenth-century gem on Frith Street, in the heart of Soho. Each room name has an historic connection to the houses, and everything from the wood panelling and original paintings, to the silk swag curtains, evokes the Georgian age – though, thankfully, the plumbing has moved on and guests can luxuriate, with REN toiletries, in free-standing claw-foot baths with rainfall showerheads. There’s even a ‘throne’ loo in one of the suites. Others have library lounges, open fireplaces, or rooftop terraces, but all have modern facilities, such as air-conditioning, free wifi, and smart TVs, albeit housed in antique cupboards to preserve the atmosphere.
Breakfast in bed is another treat here: start with a glass of Buck’s Fizz then chow down on a toasted bagel with smoked salmon, or a bacon roll. If you must leave the room, check out the bookshelves; Hazlitt’s is understandably popular with writers, presumably hoping to pick up on the creative atmosphere, and there are plenty of signed first editions on the shelves, as well as old tomes. There are two cosy lounges, one has an honesty bar and the other has Lord Godfrey, the hotel cat who, when not asleep, keeps an eye on the afternoon tea and cake available to guests.
The service is fabulous – need a bow tie? Toothbrush? Restaurant recommendation? – staff pride themselves on knowing exactly where to find whatever you need. Happily, we already knew… Bar Italia is just up the road for coffee and people-watching, the nearby French House is perfect for a glass of red, then it’s back to Ronnie Scott’s for jazz noodlings.
*Historians note that Mrs Cornelys was a Soho courtesan who had a romance with Casanova and died in Fleet Prison, while, from under the bed at 6 Frith Street, Hazlitt’s final resting place was St Anne’s Churchyard, around the corner.