Saturday, 2 December 2017

Chiltern Firehouse, Marylebone

It's no secret that I am a bonafide lover of Marylebone. And if you happen to follow me on Instagram, you'll more often than not see my frizzy hair and wide-toothed grin sitting gingerly at Chiltern Firehouse, a luxury boutique hotel down the ever-stylish Chiltern Street.

To catch a seat in the restaurant is near enough to impossible (Sienna Miller's and Princess Eugenie's clan seem to take up all the reservations), but the dreamy, cosy and undeniably chic courtyard is just as nice, if not better due to its intimacy and twinkling lights.

If you're not in full Christmas mode just yet (I'm a little disappointed in you though, I'll admit), then the cobbled courtyard is just your place. With it's black and white seats and awning, a roaring fireplace and dappled waiters in waistcoats, this charming spot tucked away from the bustle of the city is straight out of a New York fairytale. 


Housed in a former fire station from the 1880s, a Grade II gothic Victorian listed building, this high-end hotel features all the goodness that a hotel should: delicious food, excellent service and just enough glamour to make you feel like Audrey Hepburn in The Ritz.

But don't let the celebrity names who visit (Bill Clinton, Paris Hilton, Naomi know, just to name a few), and the restaurant waiting list twist you into thinking this place is inaccessible for anyone to try. Though I am rather certain my "the name's Fox, Emma Fox" line works a charm on the chic staff. Kidding.

Once you've greeted the attractive top-hatted doorman at the gate, walk through the pretty garden foliage towards the courtyard, where you'll be greeted by more attractive-looking staff twirling in jewel-coloured Emilia Wickstead jumpsuits. Ask for a seat and peruse the menu at your leisure (and by this I mean gossip at how the woman opposite could afford her Hermes Birkin.)

The courtyard is blissfully cosy - you're in a secret garden of sorts here, protected from street view by a hedge, in the midst of a naughty, high-spirited crowd. With the flickering log fire, heaters above and giant lampshades, it all feels rather like an extended living room.

Okay okay, I'm not making this place sound at all accessible and humble, and alas I think the staff prefer it not to be. But don't feel as if you wouldn't fit in if you were not toting the latest 'it-bag' or smothered in botox. I've rocked up in jeans and trainers and still had a welcoming reception, and so do many others.

So, what's on the menu?

Chiltern Firehouse cooks up a beauty of a brunch. Unfortunately, and very unlike me, I'm yet to try the brunch. But it's rather renowned for it in London town, and you'll undoubtedly wait all day to try and get a seat on a Saturday morning. On the menu, expect to see soft scrambled eggs on toast with white truffle, Cornish crab and oyster omelette, vanilla porridge with chia seeds, French toast with vanilla ice cream, and the most popular option of buttermilk pancakes with maple syrup, blueberries and creme fraiche. And of course, an acai bowl for good measure.

Lunch and dinner are a more sophisticated affair and the menus change weekly depending on what's fresh for the season. Here you'll find steak tartare with croutons, pumpkin gnocchi, venison lion with blackberries, crab-stuffed doughnuts and seared squid. All of the menus, however, behold pretty hefty prices but a splurge is well worth it with both a menu and the interiors this good.

Feel free to pop by just for drinks too, which is what I tend to do #cheapskate. Their selection of teas is rival to any posh London tea salon, and their mochas are to die for (you make it yourself by pouring in rich, velvety chocolate.) Their cocktails, wines and champagnes are equally marvellous, but again, prepare for a high price tag.

Service is beyond impeccable with their charming smiles and ability to make you feel right at home. You can never ask for too much (even blankets are supplied should your legs get cold) and they certainly don't pressure you to buy more food/drinks or leave.

I've been to Chiltern Firehouse more times than I care to remember, and each time I leave full of giggles and utter contentment.

The air is charged with mischief. Take a walk down to the red-bricked toilets where the mirrors are scratched, in what looks like lipstick, to say "cigarettes and men" in the ladies' and "women and wine" for the gentlemen.

It's best to head here during the evenings as the roaring fireplace, glistening lights and the bustling atmosphere all really set this place alight (pardon the pun.) But brunch in the late morning, or coffee in the early afternoon will equate to an equally dreamy experience. Just be weary of Friday and Saturday night - Chiltern is famed for its party-loving crowd so expect a wait for a seat.

The courtyard does close at 9pm, however, to keep neighbourly complaints at bay (told you it was a naughty crowd.)

And while you're at it - have a sneak inside at the stunning bohemian lounge (where Beatles tunes blast on Vinyl.) And hey, since you're there, why not see if you can find Alexa Chung or Kate Moss in the restaurant?

If you can't beat them, join them.

1 Chiltern St, Marylebone, London W1U 7PA

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