Prior to visiting Hotel Xenia I was quite frankly a little incredulous when I heard that there was some exceptional Italian food being served up in a hotel restaurant down the quieter end of Cromwell Road. Hotel restaurants are on the whole rather the weaker army on the culinary battlefield that is London’s restaurant scene and the Cromwell road west of Queensgate yields few gems. The word on the street was in this case proven reliable – the Evoluzione restaurant on the ground floor of the hotel evoked memories of my visits to Italy in the form of mouthfuls of lemon and nutmeg pasta (the potency of these two were perfectly balanced with the pasta, providing bursts of flavour without overpowering the dish), chunks of freshly-baked aniseed and fennel bread dipped in Sicilian olive oil and sips of Piedmont wine.
After the feast, to bed. The rooms in the hotel are a touch small (as is often the case in cities by necessity), but well-appointed and carefully considered. Three nights would be perfectly comfortable as a base to see museums and explore London, more might induce a touch of cabin fever. As one of the journalist hats I wear pertains to beauty, I always take note of the cosmetics offered – they are so very telling. In this case: L’Occitane, which is reliably pleasurable to use. This pretty much sums up my feelings on the Hotel Xenia experience: I’ll certainly be back for the food and would be more than happy to bed down again upstairs. My final word must go to the staff, for they were exceptional – attentive (but not irritatingly so), polite (but not simpering), chatty (but not overly).