The Rubens at the Palace – Refined Calm in the Capital
By Tom Wilkinson
Directly overlooking the Royal Mews at Buckingham Palace, The Rubens at the Palace – a Red Carnation Hotel – boasts an impressive, even royal location. A short walk from the entrance to the Palace and just around the corner from St James’ Park, this central location is the perfect base from which to visit top attractions and historic sites in London. (In fact, the road outside the hotel is bustling with open topped buses to whisk you on the tour of your choice around the capital.)
Once inside, sumptuous and rich surroundings instantly transport you from the streets of London to the grandeur of a bygone age. Attentive staff greet you at the door and make you feel special for the entirety of your stay. From the front desk to the sommelier in the restaurant, our every request was handled with consummate skill and panache. It is an island of genteel calm in the hustle and bustle of this always busy city.
Featuring luxurious beds, the rooms are spacious given their central location and have a large amount of storage. The beds are very comfortable… perfect after a long walking tour. The walk-in shower is invigorating with a large shower head to help wash away the cares of a long day exploring the city. All the rooms are decorated in a unique style to make you feel at home for the duration of your stay.
The Leopard Bar
Once you have relaxed and refreshed in the splendour of your room, it is the perfect time for a pre-dinner or pre-theatre drink in one of the hotel’s bars.
Our first stop is the Leopard Bar, which specialises in champagne and whisky. With chairs and menus in leopard print and a large bronze statue of a leopard, it is reminiscent of a colonial haunt from an older era. The drinks, however, are more modern, with a range of Japanese whiskeys in addition to the usual suspects of scotch, bourbon, and Irish whiskey to suit the tastes of any connoisseur. An excellent range of champagne cocktails fills out the menu.
From 7pm onwards, the bar plays host to jazz and swing music from a live band, so you can while the night away like Noel Coward.
The New York Bar
Further into the hotel is the delightful New York Bar. Bedecked in red leather with artwork showing old London, Midland, and Scotland railway posters, this bar is a cosy alternative to the Leopard Bar.
Here the signature ‘Royal Collection’ cocktails are inspired, naturally, by the Royal Family. My companion tried the ‘Kate, Duchess of Cambridge’, another champagne-based cocktail with vodka, raspberry liqueur, and passion fruit. Fruity, yet refined (I am sure the Duchess would approve).
I, meanwhile, opted to enjoy the Moreo Oreo Martini. This creamy and chocolatey take on the martini is served on a bed of ice in a stemless glass for a unique cocktail experience that is refreshing in the summer heat.
This bar features live music with current pop songs and hits sung by the bar’s resident singer, Sourya.
A Hearty English Breakfast
After a delightful night in your room, the English Grill is your destination for breakfast. A continental or cooked breakfast is on offer with a wide variety of juices and, of course, your choice of Twining’s teas.
Personally, I opted for the Eggs Royale as a good hollandaise sauce and poached eggs are the mark of an excellent kitchen. I am pleased to say it passed with flying colours. My companion had the full English breakfast with distinctive butcher’s sausages and black pudding. A perfect choice for the tourist visiting the capital who wants to try a truly British institution before heading out to see the sights.
Contributing Editor Tom Wilkinson makes cocktails in his spare time and podcasts about their history at Dr Wilko’s Campaign for Better Beverages. He also produces 2 other podcasts: Hat of Many Things, on random topics drawn from a hat and Unparliamentary Language about the state of British politics.