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The Princess Royal, London hotel review: Victorian boozer-turned-boutique hotel with gastropub grub

Located just off Westbourne Grove, the hotel is perfectly placed to explore Notting Hill   (The Princess Royal)
Located just off Westbourne Grove, the hotel is perfectly placed to explore Notting Hill (The Princess Royal)

In a nutshell: A buzzy horseshoe bar, excellent restaurant and four thoughtfully designed bedrooms make this pub and hotel a must-visit in Notting Hill

The neighbourhood

Tucked away off Westbourne Grove and its boutiques, restaurants and white-front mansions, The Princess Royal is perfectly placed to explore one of London’s most charming areas – with the two nearest tube stations, Bayswater and Notting Hill Gate, both a mere 10-minute walk. Meander south and there’s Kensington Gardens, one of the capital’s eight Royal parks where you’ll find the Peter Pan statue, the Diana Memorial Playground and two Italian gardens.

The hotel is also a stone’s throw away from Notting Hill’s famous Portobello Road. On Friday’s and Saturday’s, the street is brimming with market stalls spanning vintage fashion, accessories, food, bric-a brac, furniture, jewellery and more. Snaking from Westbourne Grove to Ladbroke Grove, the half-a-mile long market is world-famous. On any other day, the antique shops are still open for browsing or simply wander round the leafy area to admire the colourful houses straight out of a postcard.

The look

One of the newest additions to the Cubitt House roster, the pub itself dates back to the Victorian era (the original name has been kept) – and its transformation from a boozer to boutique hotel is tasteful and in-keeping with the building’s history (see the uncovered old mosaic flooring). The first thing you’ll notice when entering is the horseshoe bar that dominates the room. The buzzy atmosphere has the feel of your favourite local pub, yet design details give the downstairs an elevated feel – think art deco-style prints, mood-lighting, a grand fireplace and even a seafood counter.

The Princess Royal’s restaurant (The Princess Royal)
The Princess Royal’s restaurant (The Princess Royal)

A quieter space, the conservatory restaurant has a rustic charm thanks to the exposed brick wall and cascading plants, while the pub’s original terrace area is a lovely sanctuary. Centering the indoor dining space, the cushioned back bench boasts vintage upholstery with matching red detailed glassware, wooden chairs and mosaic floor, while green panelled windows border the room.

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The vibe

On a Saturday night, the bar is as busy and buzzy as you’d expect from a well-placed Notting Hill pub. From the baby-gender reveal party of 30-somethings in the low seats to the couples perched at the window seats and the group of 20-somethings in the front garden, The Princess Royal’s clientele is an eclectic mix of locals, couples, families and groups.

Thanks to the clever dividement of the downstairs, the restaurant has a more intimate feel, with tables stretching out into the well-pruned courtyard that comes alive during the summer. The inside dining space is gorgeous and homely, attracting families, date-night couples and foodie friends.

Bed and bath

The Princess Royal houses just four rooms that are named Alexander, Diana, Margaret and Lilibet. Ranging from one snug to three larger spaces (opt for the Diana for a freestanding tub or the Alexandar for the sizeable bathroom), the rooms give the feel of a Cotswold country escape – from the plush upholstered headboards to the rustic wooden panelling. Each space has unique details, featuring various Rapture & Wright wallpapers, period-inspired Lefroy Brooks bathrooms (complete with a decadent flush pull toilet), unique artwork and Robert Kime antiques.

One of the four uniquely designed rooms (The Princess Royal)
One of the four uniquely designed rooms (The Princess Royal)

Finished in crisp white linen with contrasting cushions, rest assured the beds are supremely comfortable. There’s also a television set with all the main streaming apps, a hairdryer, tea, coffee, a stack of magazines and books, a Roberts radio and sustainable 100 Acres toiletries.

Food and drink

Boasting a menu of moreish Mediterranean-inspired pub classics led by Norma chef Ben Tish, the main draw of The Princess Royal is the grub and the pub. For pre-dinner aperitifs, the bar serves elevated cocktails, locally brewed beers and IPAs, myriad spirits from the grand glass cabinet and an exhaustive wine menu of everything from “earthy, spicy reds” to “sun-soaked whites”. Prepare to be hit with Notting Hill prices (see £13 for a cocktail).

As for dinner, make sure to try the crispy fried squid, pizzette fritte with truffle honey, oysters (the pub has built quite the reputation with its raw bar), roasted cod with mussels and chicken milanese. In true pub style, The Princess Royal also serves hearty Sunday roasts.

A selection of Ben Tish’s menu (The Princess Royal)
A selection of Ben Tish’s menu (The Princess Royal)

While service was quick and attentive at dinner, it was a little slower at breakfast – but don’t let this put you off. As well as sweet options like pancakes and muffins, there’s rich savoury dishes like the eggs princess and vegetarian or meat full English breakfasts (the portions are very generous). A bed-and-breakfast rate would be a welcome addition here as brunch isn’t affordable (you’re in Notting Hill, after all).

Public areas

Being a pub with rooms, the facilities and public areas are limited to the gastro restaurant and centrepiece bar. There are also two private dining spaces for events and parties (one for around 10 people and another for 22).

The private feasting room (The Princess Royal)
The private feasting room (The Princess Royal)

The larger feasting room boasts its own outdoor area, artisan wallpaper, grand chandeliers, plush red chairs and a long banquet table, offering a more intimate space for special occasions. The pub, restaurant and private dining spaces are all available to book even if you’re not staying at the hotel.

Nuts and bolts

Room count: Four.

Freebies: Tea and coffee in the room.

Wifi: Free.

Disability access: Unfortunately not owing to the staircase up to the bedrooms.

Pet policy: All the rooms are dog friendly.

Bottom line

Best thing: The astmostpheric bar, moreish restaurant and artisan design details in the bedroom.

Worst thing: No bed and breakfast rate, service was a little slow at breakfast and the room heating didn’t work at first (a minor gripe in the depths of winter).

Perfect for: Foodies, those wishing to explore Notting Hill and couples seeking a boutique staycation.

Not right for: Families with older children as there are only double bed rooms with travel cots available.

Instagram from: The gorgeously designed restaurant, courtyard in the summer and snug corners in the bedrooms.

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