The last two years have challenged and changed our lives in one way or the other. It also gave us an opportunity to re-evaluate and reboot our attitudes, habits and priorities – what’s trivial, what really matters.
Private spaces and retreats where we can isolate and feel safe became even more precious commodities, resulting in a surge in bookings for city-based serviced apartments and country boltholes.
A good example is Lexham Gardens by Cheval Maison, the Kensington-based boutique serviced apartment, which was already getting bookings prior to opening its doors in July last year. I was lucky enough to squeeze a night’s stay here before they were fully booked.
Taking its name from the adjacent Lexham Gardens set within a private residential enclave, this new collection of 30 contemporary apartments forms part of a row of white Victorian townhouses tucked behind the Cromwell Road thoroughfare. This distinct address was designated a conservation area in 1995 for its architectural and historical significance. Back in the day, buildings were made of sturdy materials, and the white brick structure spanning five storeys has been respectfully restored to retain its elegant Classical-Italianate style that incorporates a stucco façade and Doric porches.
While the exterior exudes classic period features, the décor is thoroughly trendy inside. Starting with the lobby, a display cabinet-cum-bookshelf is populated with snazzy glass decanters, objets d’art and coffee table books. The shelves are piped with neon-like led lighting to add a cool vibe – an idea I wouldn’t mind incorporating into my home décor. Mixing sofas and armchairs in opposing warm and cold tones and contrasting textures of velour and fabric actually works well here, and this style carries through the entire property.
Classed as either deluxe, luxury or superior, each one-bedroom and two-bedroom apartment follows a colour scheme ranging from broody charcoal grey and black to deep blood red and racing green, all mingling with earthy neutrals. I quite like the deep red walls that harmonise with furnishings in warm tones of beige and brown. But I’m not entirely sold to the idea of a dark grey rug set against a wall painted in more traditional racing green – a toned-down form of eclecticism that may perfectly appeal to others. Adding a feminine touch to an otherwise male-led look are subtle hints of swirling art-deco wall motifs and off-white dining chairs with a matching table supported by a conical matted bronze-effect base.
Again, modern photographs on the wall, such as that of a sports car dashboard, appeal to the inner masculinity among guests. However, there are modern touches that appeal to all tastes, particularly the smart state-of-the-art cooker, matched by a large fridge ideal for stocking up from a big Sainsbury’s supermarket nearby.
A comfortable bed is a vital factor, especially for long-term stays, and the mattress in my two-bedroom apartment passes the test. Space is at a premium here, which explains the snug dining area adjacent to the living room.
There’s a well-equipped gym in the building, but if you need some air, a landscaped atrium garden provides outdoor space on the ground floor. Lexham Gardens is around a 10-minute walk from the Gloucester Station, which explains why you’ll hear the constant rumbling of underground trains – a minor irritation for city dwellers, but something country bumpkins may have to get used to.
SPIES AND ROCK ’N’ ROLL
Lexham Gardens by Cheval Maison makes a convenient base from which to explore cultural landmarks, such as the National History Museum, V&A Museum and the Royal Albert Hall, while those who prefer a dose of retail therapy can take a leisurely stroll along the back-doubles towards Kensington High Street. There are countless eateries to choose from here for those who can’t be bothered to cook.
But for foodies craving something different, a culinary adventure awaits at Romulo Café and Restaurant on the far side of Kensington High Street. Romulo is the home of authentic Filipino cuisine – a melting pot of native, Malay, Chinese and Spanish flavours. They also have a bakery where scrumptious traditional Filipino breads, buns and desserts can be ordered to take away.
Back at your Lexham Gardens apartment, a cup of tea or coffee tea will go nicely with that indulgent treat while you stretch on the sofa and watch TV. And if you happen to be viewing the 1979 BBC adaptation of John le Carré’s Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, watch out for Episode 6, where the white façade of the Lexham Garden building makes an appearance. This address was also home to music industry bigwigs. In the 1960s, American record producer Tony Visconti lived in No. 108, where he recorded the first-ever demo for T-Rex’s first album. It was also here that Visconti worked with David Bowie on several albums.
Lexham Gardens belongs to the Cheval Maison collection of elegant serviced apartments, townhouses and penthouses in prime locations around London and Edinburgh. Its award-winning parent company, the Cheval Collection, includes high-standard serviced apartments across the globe.
All apartments at Lexham Gardens by Cheval Maison are available to book for any length of stay. A one-bedroom apartment starts from £260 per night. For further information about Cheval, visit their website.