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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

and

Kimpton Fitzroy suite

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

Kimpton Fitzroy suite

and

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.

Conclusion

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)

  • Andrew says:

    We stayed here for a free night from the IHG Premium card (thanks Rob for the help navigating the hotel’s initial refusal).

    I’m Spire, and was upgraded on the free night to a great suite. It was cosy but didn’t feel small, the bathroom was huge. The bed was excellent and the Christmas decorations were a lovely touch.

    We thought the staff were great – attentive, friendly and really proud of the hotel. I don’t understand the complaints about them I’ve seen from some quarters.

    Free drinks happy hour was good as well with decent quality wine and some senior staff chatting with guests on a Saturday evening. We also drank in Fitz’s later on and loved it – the acoustics are the best I’ve experienced in a long time in this age of exposed brick and steel, we both realised we could have a good conversation amongst the hubbub without shouting or straining.

    The week later we had afternoon tea at Palm Court and this was also very good with a Christmas theme. It was very quiet but the food/drink quality was very high and the staff were good. The only downside was a cold breeze coming from the front door.

    I’m happy to keep earning towards the free night to use here at the end of 2019 if pricing remains at the £250 mark.

  • BlueLabel says:

    We used an IHG black card free night voucher there last week and enjoyed it. It’s a great looking hotel with friendly staff, and very handy for the British Museum. Didn’t seem to be much recognition of my new Spire Elite status (thanks Curve!) although they did put an extra bed in the room for our son FOC. Did the ‘Social Hour’ 5-6pm which was billed as a glass of champagne but was actually fairly free-flowing prosecco. I don’t think they have it at the weekends.

    • Olly says:

      I booked my CC Free Reward Night there for a theatre trip next month and am now a little apprehensive following some of the remarks in here today. Is the happy hour for certain guests, if so who and what recognition, is Platinum status likely to achieve? I was toying with buying IC Ambassador for the potential of added recognition and use that free reward night at an IC.

  • Leo says:

    I just don’t undertsand why they didn’t call it the Kimpton Russell. Not like it’s in Fitzroy Square.

    • Olly says:

      They probably wanted to give the nod to the architect who designed its grandeur rather than its location.

      • Leo says:

        But the Hotel Russell was (is) a famous hotel in a famous Bloomsbury garden square….if nothing else it is misleading geographically. Seems mad to me.

        • Lady London says:

          Hotel Russell did not have a good rep though. My impression of it was they had lots of groups. Perhaps that’s what IHG wanted to lose, in the renaming.

        • Leo says:

          I did sort of think about that – but as someone who has either lived in or near Bloomsbury most of my life I still find it strange. If you don’t know London and you glance at a map (I nearly said A-Z so that shows you )you might drift to Fitzrovia and in the opposite direction…Bloomsbury and Fitzrovia get me…those names probably haven’t survived Google maps in any event.

  • ahop says:

    I had my university Christmas party here ten years ago. How things have changed.

  • pommy ray says:

    slightly OT do ihg restaurant give points to customers who are not staying at the hotel where the restaurant is?

  • Phil G says:

    Can you hear any road or traffic noise in the rooms ?
    I personally need quiet to sleep and have been let down by a few luxury hotels recently.
    Many hotels spend millions but forget the windows let in all the noise.

    • Rob says:

      Glazing looked good.

    • Bagoly says:

      I see that the more expensive rooms overlook Russell Square.
      So less expensive ones (interior, or on the side streets) should be quieter?

      • Andy says:

        No there is constant AC fan noise. Windows are not awful it suspect Russel square side has other noise issues.

    • Andrew says:

      No real traffic noise other than sirens, only noticed 1 or 2.

  • Graham Walsh says:

    Sounds interesting. Tempted to use my free IHG night here then.

  • Tim says:

    Thanks for the pointless fact Rob – actually very interesting to me as I work with a number of Uni’s and I never knew that!