When the taxi arrived at the Dorset Square Hotel, I swiped my credit card but the taxi wouldn’t accept my US chip card (chip/sign and not chip/PIN) and I had zero cash (unlike me, I know) so I left my bags in the cab and ran into the hotel to the front desk and said “Hi, I’m checking in but first can you give me £15 to pay the cab as he won’t take my credit card?” Without flinching, she opened the cash box and gave me the money. I left my passport with her to start the check-in process while I went out to pay the cab and retrieve my luggage. The cab was surprised that the hotel gave me the cash and was ready to drive me to an ATM for cash. I told him that I had no doubt the hotel would rescue me because it was a Firmdale Hotel.
It’s no secret that I love the Firmdale Hotels in London from the first Soho Hotel stay to my love of the Charlotte Street Hotel in Fitzrovia but sadly my budget often says no. So for my quick visit to London after three days in Edinburgh, I found a bank holiday deal at the Dorset Square Hotel in Marylebone neighborhood. Both the townhouse hotel and neighborhood were new to me as I continue to explore new areas of London with each stay. It’s always a hard choice for me – go back to the hotels I love in neighborhoods that are familiar and easy to explore or try something new. This something new was a townhouse hotel across from a leafy garden square (site of Thomas Lord’s first cricket game) with new streets to discover.
Dorset Square Hotel – Location in Marylebone
The Dorset Square Hotel is an easy fifteen minute walk to Oxford Street shopping with Selfridge’s an easy find (love their Food Hall). The Marylebone tube station is a five minute walk up the street to the Bakerloo line. The area has a plethora of boutique shops and restaurants within walking distance, most notably Chiltern Street and the Chiltern Firehouse. A taxi (or Uber) to St. Pancras and King’s Cross train stations is about 10-15 minutes depending on traffic and ranges from £8-15. Nearest tourist attractions are the Sherlock Holmes Museum and Madam Tussauds wax museum but otherwise this is a residential neighborhood.
The Dorset Square Hotel – Arrival & Pre-Arrival
As noted above, I was the crazy American girl running in and asking for money and the front desk didn’t blink with my request so this was obviously nothing new (I can only imagine the crazy guest stories). The check in was friendly and quick and I was given the always unique room key. When I calmed down, I noticed the wonderful flowers, complimentary use umbrellas and warm welcoming atmosphere as you walk inside.
Prior to arrival, the hotel sent a “please confirm arrival” email which prompted me to inform them that I had a package arriving that I wished them to hold until my arrival. My niece wanted a macaron refill kit for the gift I had bought at the U.K. Spirit of Christmas fair so I ordered online and shipped to the hotel. My package was in the room waiting for me although the front desk did express concern as they were waiting all week and it was hand delivered that day.
The Dorset Square Hotel Drawing Room
The first floor front windows look out to the garden square and have the front desk and small lobby in one room while the Drawing Room with Fireplace and Honesty Bar occupies the other small room. Each Firmdale property has one (or two) drawing/living rooms for guests and visitors to enjoy which is a wonderful design feature.
The Drawing Room is so lovely that you can meet friends here for drinks, relax reading a book as if it’s your home or use the desk to work on with the views of the garden and people watching outside. Either way, I wanted this type of room at home, don’t you agree?
The Superior Room at The Dorset Square Hotel
The luxury townhouse hotel has 38 individually designed rooms in six categories which includes single rooms with twin bed (107 sq. ft.). I love that the Firmdale Hotels cater to the solo traveler at their townhouse locations – the rooms may be smaller with twin bed but luxury and highly styled. I was tempted to try the single room on this trip but for a few dollars more I was able to reserve the Superior Room category with a Queen bed. The room would still be on the small cozy side but wouldn’t feel that way with the décor. The room averages 194 sq. ft. (the average American hotel room is 250-300 sq. ft).
As I exited the small lift onto the 4th floor, a garden themed hallway with vegetables on the wallpaper (it worked), and my room would be the first in the hall on the left. I tapped the hotel key on the reader and opened the door to my hideaway, Room 401. As I was on the top floor of the townhouse, my room had a slanted ceiling nearest to the windows on one side of the bed (yes, of course I bumped my head a few times never learning). Every inch of the room was used well – I had a desk with chair, a reading area with chair, flat screen tv and table as well as my bed and built in closets.
On the bedside table was a handwritten welcome note from the manager (a standard amenity at all Firmdale’s Hotels) with a lovely spa amenity from the Kit Kemp collection called RikRak and a typed letter with information on the area and what’s on. Later in the evening at turndown, the hotel would prepare the bed for sleeping and leave bottled water and a sleepy time lavender spray. As if one needed help to sleep on the indulgent Frette linens and comfy bed.
The windows hidden behind the shutters and darkening curtains actually opened which was a nice feature that you don’t see at many hotels anymore. Fresh air is always welcomed. My view was not that of the gardens but of the buildings on the other side of the building.
The closets provided ample space and storage for your clothes. It also contained the safe, partial minibar of dry goods (candy, crisps, etc.) and the hairdryer with outlets inside.
The wall had a knob that at first I thought was a weird decoration but then I pulled on it and it revealed a minibar refrigerator which was a clever designed surprise.
The Superior Room Bathroom
The design of the bathroom was quite familiar as it resembled the many prior stays at The Soho Hotel and Charlotte Street Hotel with the grey marble. Due to the small space, I had a walk in shower rather than the tub/shower combo. The toiletries are in house now – Kit Kemp’s RikRak. Towels were displayed on the heated rack and the plush robes located behind the door. Surprisingly for the small space there was a door instead of a sliding pocket door.
Dorset Square Hotel Breakfast at The Potting Shed
By now, I was clued in on the theme – gardening – especially with the name The Potting Shed. This well designed restaurant is located on the ground floor (basement for us Americans) with two levels. The lift (elevator) stops on the floor for accessible needs. The first level is arranged with tables and a booth along the wall while the lower ground (just a few steps) has the bar area. There is natural light from the skylights.
The morning continental breakfast buffet was thoughtfully arranged on a long communal table in the bar area. I also ordered my hot foods from the ala carte menu as my rate included breakfast. The buffet fresh fruits, homemade granola and various breads and cereals were set up to resemble a work of art in my opinion as all bowls and serving spoons were symmetrical. I was hesitant to disturb the gorgeous settings but alas I was hungry for those berries!
My ala carte eggs, bacon, avocado were fine to accompany my fruit platter. One thing that does drive me crazy at all three Firmdale hotels I’ve stayed at is that the toast is always overdone and still served that way – maybe it’s an American thing but blackened and crunchy is not my idea of toast. As a former food server, I’d never leave the kitchen with burnt looking toast and yet in the UK (even at other hotels) no one seems to understand my dismay. I like to melt the butter on my toast not build a crunchy butter and jam messy meal.
Final Thoughts – The Dorset Square Hotel
It was a quick two nights at The Dorset Square Hotel in Marylebone but just like the other Firmdale Hotels in London, I was a fan immediately. With only 38 rooms it’s hard not to enjoy the personalized attention and feeling like you have the place to yourself. It was also quiet and I like quiet. The hotel was full and yet I saw people only during breakfast – a few business people, young couples and a family with a baby. When I was leaving the bellman ran out and around the corner to flag down a taxi since I hadn’t pre-ordered one the night before when they asked (oops, sorry about that). There’s a reason I love these small luxury design hotels and it’s the feeling that I’m truly a guest in their home (hotel) rather than another visitor. At the Dorset Square Hotel, that feeling started when I ran inside and asked for money….a friend gives you money without asking questions….
My Rates included wifi and breakfast
Sunday £180 + 20% VAT
Monday £193.50 + 20% VAT
My friendly hotel did charge me £1.50 for the cash advance which was less than the cost of the cab ride to an ATM and ATM fees so for this time, I was ok with the convenience fee.