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My review of the impressive new Kimpton Fitzroy hotel (was Principal London) in London

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This is my review of the new Kimpton Fitzroy hotel.

We have given a bit of coverage in recent months to IHG’s new Kimpton Fitzroy hotel in London’s Russell Square.  We also covered it when it re-opened as Principal London, before Principal Hotels was bought by IHG and IHG announced plans for rebranding the hotels.

The first rebrand to be completed was the jewel in the crown, Principal London.  Principal Hotels spent £80 million refurbishing the old Hotel Russell, near the British Museum.  To put this in comparison, it is more than IHG spent on its refurbishment of the flagship InterContinental Park Lane a few years ago.

I had never actually been inside the hotel until just before Christmas.  I had lunch in the Neptune restaurant and I was able to get a full tour of the hotel afterwards, including the rooms and suites.  I can now say two things with certainty:

Kimpton Fitzroy has, by far, the most impressive and attractive eating and drinking options of any IHG hotel in London

the rooms and suites are small – expensively decorated, but small – and won’t suit everyone

The hotel website is here if you want to learn more.

Kimpton Fitzroy

The public areas at the Kimpton Fitzroy hotel

Like many of the grand Victorian hotels (it was built in 1898, the architect was Charles Fitzroy Doll), the old Hotel Russell was built as a place to see and be seen.  The photos in this section are official hotel pictures because the areas were either busy, closed or had bad lighting (this was late afternoon) when I was there.

This is the lobby.  I mean, it is just crazy.  Can you imagine anyone commissioning something like this today?  Principal actually replaced a lot of the original marble that had been lost or damaged over the years.

Kimpton Fitzroy lobby

There are four separate eating and drinking spaces.  This is the Palm Court, which is very large and was surprisingly empty on my visit.  It looks fantastic.

The pasty chefs had build a 5-foot tall gingerbread house for Christmas which had apparently taken the team a whole night to ice together!  If you are looking for somewhere new for afternoon tea, especially at short notice when The Ritz etc is fully booked, try this.

Kimpton Fitzroy Palm Court

This is the Neptune restaurant where we had an impressive lunch.  This has had a lot of positive press coverage since it opened so you don’t need to take my word for it.  All of these venues have separate street entrances to encourage local trade.

The restaurant is, apparently, very similar to the main restaurant on the Titanic which Charles Fitzroy Doll also designed.  On the main staircase on the second floor is a bronze dragon – there used to be two of these, with the Titantic getting the other one.

Kimpton Fitzroy Neptune

This is Fitz’s Bar.  The hotel is taking this very seriously and is hoping to get onto many of ‘World’s Best Bars’ lists in the next couple of years, in much the same way that the Langham London hotel has made its Artesian bar a core selling point.  Again, a huge sum of money seems to have been spent here.

Kimpton Fitzroy Fitz's Bar

Finally, there is the coffee shop / casual dining restaurant, Burr & Co.  Buffet breakfast is served here – I think Neptune serves a separate a la carte breakfast, unless I misheard.

Kimpton Fitzroy Burr Co

The rooms at Kimpton Fitzroy

Here are my own photos of two rooms – a standard entry-level room and a suite.  ‘Cosy’ is the best description, although you can’t fault the money that has gone in to making them look good.

This is a standard double:

Kimpton Fitzroy bedroom

I was standing against the back wall when I took the photo.  As you can see, there is only about 18 inches of floor space around the bed on all sides.  What you can’t see is the table of amenities, including a coffee machine.  There is also a smart Ruark digital radio, alarm clock and Bluetooth speaker.  There are no shortage of plug sockets.

Kimpton Fitzroy bathroom

The bathrooms look like this.  There is a shower but no tub.

This is one of the larger suites:

Kimpton Fitzroy suite


Kimpton Fitzroy suite

The suite bedroom was also compact with little space around the bed itself:

Kimpton Fitzroy suite


Kimpton Fitzroy suite

The bathroom has a very large shower as well.

In terms of leisure facilities, there is no pool but there is a surprisingly large fitness centre.  If you are looking for meeting or event space, there is a large ballroom behind the Palm Court which connects to it and can be used either together or independently – the ballroom also has a separate street entrance.


Kimpton Fitzroy is a throwback to the era of grand hotels but very much brought into the 21st century.  The small size of the rooms means that it isn’t somewhere you’d stay if you spend a huge amount of time upstairs, but it IS somewhere I’d recommend if you want to eat and drink in very attractive and classy surroundings.

You also need to decide if the Russell Square location works for you or not, although the entrance to Russell Square tube is literally seconds away.  It is a direct Piccadilly Line train from Heathrow which is convenient.

Cash rates vary depending on when you stay and the room you take, but assume £225+ at weekends and £275+ midweek for a double.  As an IHG Rewards Club redemption, it is 70,000 points per night.

You can find out more on the Kimpton Fitzroy website here.

PS.  Pointless fact of the day: The ‘Russell Group of Universities’ is named after the Hotel Russell, which is where the heads of the founding universities met to plan the new organisation.

(Want to earn more hotel points?  Click here to see our complete list of promotions from the major hotel chains or use the ‘Hotel Promos’ link in the menu bar at the top of the page.)

Comments (65)

  • Nick_C says:

    “up up up past the Kimpton Fitzroy, up up up up to the Heavyside Layer” just hasnt got the same ring to it.

    Lovely to see the investment in the old place though.

  • Graeme says:

    My London office is just around the corner, so for the ‘stay twice / free night’ promo have switched from usual HI Bloomsbury as been interested as this place was being refurbished. Have booked the cheapest refundable rates which are for a single bed.. not expecting much. Also they have charged both to credit card already, which is a little odd. We shall see, doubt i’ll return after the two nights (and need three brands for this quarters promotion anyway)..

    • Phil says:

      In its Russell Hotel incarnation my partner stayed in a single room – he said it felt more like a broom closet! Even after its grand transformation I would be leery of a single room.

      • Simonbr says:

        Ah, I’ve just booked the single room for £161. Has anyone experienced the 5-6pm guest happy hour?

        • Jovanna says:

          Yes, it was at the top of the staircase on the first floor. Had a glass of Prosecco. It wasn’t overrun. There was a host. He came around and had a chat about the hotel.

          We stayed during Amex Shop Small. Received a notification from Amex when the hotel took the preauthorisation that we’d just ‘shopped small’, so used our cards in each of bars / restaurants. Also received a £15 Raid the Bar voucher.

        • Lady London says:

          Always better to book double for single occupancy if the price difference isn’t too great. Benefits in many ways. Including availability will often show up on promos for a double room, but not a single. Just general feedback not specific to IHG or Kimpton.

          Single room a distressing amount of the time = worst room in size, shape, location in the hotel.

  • Nigel the Pensioner says:

    I have fond memories of the Hotel Russell from when it was a THF hotel and I worked around the corner….. They did a great carvery (posh) Sunday lunch in a fabulous dining room, with an enthusiastic wine list for the day (late 80’s).
    It plummeted in its interior status both in public and residential areas at the time of the PH takeover and frankly they failed to optimise the property. I can easily believe that a vast sum has been spent on refurbishment because it absolutely needed it!
    The nearest similar refurb was probably the Lanesborough which politely overran its schedule and where the library bar (by way of example) was completely gutted……..and then rebuilt with new wood to exactly the same design!!

  • Genghis says:

    How very working class having “pasty chefs” 🙂

  • Lloyd says:

    Impressive they have a pasty chef! Clearly going for the Cornish pound and northerners like me! 🙂

  • Dimitri says:

    The problem with the rooms is not just that they are small but also in my opinion they don’t look that luxurious and certainly not as luxurious as the public areas of the hotel. For example you would expect marble bathrooms and not the (what it looks like to be) cheap materials used. They could had at least used marble effect tiles as a minimum. I have been Holiday Inns in Asia that have more luxurious bathrooms.

    • Chris says:

      It’s an odd thing but I agree ; those faux Victorian times on the wall actually only ever look at home in a modern setting. It’s odd that the most incongruous thing about the design is the actually Victorian-esque tiling!

      But to be fair to the hotel, the public area will always look a million miles beyond the rooms – the light and space opens up possibilities out of the realms of a 32sqm room! And a bed can only ever look so luxurous

  • TGLoyalty says:

    One thing that will always put me off stating to enjoy the F&B is that Kimpton s do not give points on F&B spend.

    Rather just stay somewhere with a bigger room and just have lunch/dinner or a drink here

    • Lady London says:

      Yes I like the look of the Palm Court. I could see myself having tea with someone there.

      The hotel is also very close to Eurostar / Euston Road / Marylebone / Kings Cross areas. If word gets around of its existence the Burr Coffee Shop could do very well. That area around Russell Square/Holborn is a bit short of nice places to have tea, coffee/snack.

  • Caroline Bolton says:

    I stayed this week with my family. I agree with all you’ve written except you’re missing the let down of the hotel which is most of the staff. The only word I can use is disinterested. The reception staff were fabulous but elsewhere just not interested. We dined at Burr & Co, Neptune and drank in Fitz. All good but nowhere near the likes of the Trafalgar.