London never ceases to amaze, whatever the season. There’s a special buzz about this city, and a sense of excitement pervades all around, particularly during the festive season, when light displays illuminating high streets, narrow alleyways and local neighbourhoods dazzle visitors and locals alike.
After a few hours spent out and about in the cold, there’s nothing more comforting than coming home to a cosy haven. And if you happen to be around the King’s Road and Knightsbridge area, then The Hari, a five-star boutique hotel tucked within a quiet enclave near Eaton Square in Belgravia, might just be the ideal sanctuary.
The Hari London and its sister hotel, The Hari Hong Kong, are named after Dr Hari Harilela, the late father of Dr Aron Harilela, CEO and Chairman of The Harilela Group, a wholly-owned family enterprise dating back to 1959.
This small but funky bolthole brings a cool vibe with its distinct décor. Designed by Tara Bernerd & Partners, its bold colours and textures create an eclectic yet elegant, warm ambience, starting with the lobby, where a chunky velvet blue sofa is framed by tan leather padded pillars and brick walls. Brass and metallic features are dotted around, while the idea of having a library adjacent to the bar lounge makes perfect sense.
Art also plays a big role in enhancing guest experiences, and there’s plenty here to inspire, including an eclectic collection of contemporary illustrations and sculptures. In fact, The Hari Art Prize was recently launched in collaboration with A Space For Art to kick-start an annual rolling art programme showcasing works from a new generation of artists. From January to February 2023, selected ‘Artists in Residence’ will be creating pieces, which will later be exhibited at the hotel.
The Hari is much like a home away from home, and each of the 85 bedrooms is individually designed to imbibe character and comfort. But why settle for the middle floors when you can have a Penthouse Suite on the 10th storey? The corner penthouse embraces three sides of the building, revealing vistas of London’s skyline and landmarks, notably St Paul’s Cathedral and the London Eye to the east.
This intimate abode comes with a large, comfy modular sofa to sink into. Textures of velvet and leather, bold colours and neutral shades all come together well, while Arabescato marble and an oversized shower-bath area add a touch of indulgence to the ensuite bathroom. The bedroom’s sliding doors provide access to a small veranda with a sitting area for two, although those with mobility issues might find the step leading to the platform a bit tricky. Not to worry, there’s a footstool in the wardrobe to add an extra step.
When it’s too cold outside, and the snow starts to fall, tucking into a hearty Italian feast has to be the best antidote. Fortunately, Il Pampero, The Hari’s resident restaurant on the ground floor, is only a few paces from the lift. The décor here complements the hotel’s overall look, accented with soothing Vespa-green lacquers and leather seats. Semi-circular tables cater to those who prefer a bit of privacy while watching who comes and goes. Photos hanging on the walls are eccentric and humorous. But don’t be fooled, the food here is seriously good.
The dishes created by Head Chef Calogero Carlino aim to satiate ravenous appetites, and the selection changes with the season, allowing diners to savour traditional Italian classics reinvented with exciting ingredients and textures. A few exemplary tastings from last summer’s menu include a lasagne, skilfully transformed into a delightful open version with a delicate Bolognese sauce, Parmesan foam and basil oil. The tuna steak served with pistachio, squid ink, and pepper purée, coupled with a garnish of fennel, radish and gooseberry salad, was bursting with flavours.
Il Pampero’s festive four-course menu is an enticing range of creative dishes. Start with a decadent crab cocktail, root vegetables and caviar, followed by chestnut risotto, morel mushrooms and marsala sauce. The main course of turkey porchetta, persimmon chutney, sautéed black cabbage and pomegranate is tempting, while a sweet ending of spiced mousse, mulled wine and cinnamon ice cream is a special treat even on a cold winter’s night. Perhaps the welcome drink – a rich concoction of cinnamon Cognac, double cream, Frangelico, gingerbread syrup and grated nutmeg – would round off the evening nicely.
The Hari is undoubtedly one of London’s best-kept secrets – a private setting to escape to when the city’s hustle and bustle gets too hectic. Add friendly service and top-notch Italian food to that, and you have the formula for a memorable, relaxing sojourn in the heart of the capital.