The Bingham – A Wind in the Willows Sustainable London Bolthole
The Bingham is one of those rare, twinkling slow, sustainable luxury hotels that pulls you back, time and time again to be Ratty and Co larking beside the river Thames. For it offers a beguiling slice of perfection. The serenest of hotels just half an hour from the hurly burly and madness of London, where life exists in the slow lane . Start contemplating early morning yoga classes, looking out on a scented, riverbank garden – to the prospect of messing about on proper Pashley bikes and lingering over tea in the gorgeously glam lounge. Then, let me delight you with a menu by newcomer, Andrew Cole, that is light, delicious, alchemical and so pretty, I can’t help thinking the chef’s assistants must be a troop of clever, free-range fairies.
The Promise of Some Wind in the Willows Slow Luxury Adventures
This is the place to visit for romance, restoration and tranquillity, and perhaps some Wind in the Willows adventures beside London’s great, charismatic river. For foodies, there is a decidedly emerald streak, with the focus on carefully sourced local food and a healthy, delicious, jewel like menu of clean palate delights from grass fed beef with a curious dash of smoke – to sinfully good Gloucester Old Spot with scrumptious, melt in the mouth scallops from Orkney and a starter garland of heritage beets that looked like a necklace you can graze on.
Gazing at a Fire Orange Sunset
The founder of the hotel, Sam, has created a vibrant, friendly haven of a sustainable luxe hotel, with chic, lovely rooms that instantly make the weary traveller feel cosseted and at home. Nothing beats lolling on the sofa at the foot of the bed, grazing on a scrumptious plate of healthy treats including a mini mango smoothie and the best muesli bar I have ever tasted, whilst looking out at the river and admiring a fire orange sunset. The experience is intoxicating and one I will yearn to repeat.
Glamour Factor – The Bingham is super chic and glamorous, without feeling self important or stuffy. The lounge has the timeless allure of a Chelsea townhouse, all restful whites and dove greys, with a ceiling so opulent, it resembles a wedding cake. I wouldn’t be a bit surprised to run into Mick Jagger, his ex Jerry Hall or a resting film starlet.
Dinner for Two – If it is warm enough ask for a table on the terrace. This is one of the most romantic spots to dine in all London. Perfect for a celebration, tryst or perhaps a declaration! Andrew Cole started as sous chef, and has now taken the helm from Mark Jarvis. Dinner was very, very good, but occasionally lacked consistency. The main courses were Michelin worthy and offered an odyssey of taste, presentation and whimsy. The first courses of salmon and heritage beetroot less so. The puddings had that longed for element of surprise and indulgence. Both the black olive ice cream and the posh chocolate orange elicited suitable purrs of delight.
Location, Location – The Bingham offers the perfect location for the clever, discerning luxury traveller. This is a hotel that offers all the glittering attractions of London, with the peace, space and creature comforts of a country house. The Bingham is brilliantly tucked away minutes from Richmond town centre, with an eagle’s eye view of The Thames, and a garden door that magically opens right onto the towpath.
Your Room – Each room has a thoughtfully chosen name. My room is called Constancy and it is indeed, a very lovely, tranquil eyrie, with a slightly restricted view of the river. The first thing I do is open the windows, to let in a river breeze, and then check out the sublimely comfortable pocket sprung, king size bed. The duvet feels like a soft cloud, and there are enough foodie treats, from mango smoothies to well chosen muesli bars to keep me going until dinner. I make tea, pick an interesting hardback lying by the window and polish off some yummie Montezuma chocolate, whilst marvelling at the idea that life beside The Thames, is like entering another universe. One I am in no hurry to leave.
Bathroom – A bath that fills quickly, easy to use taps and uplifting toiletries from L’Occitane en Provence, with the smell of lemon verbena. (Lovely, but would be nice to have Made in Britain organic toiletries).
Gold Stars – For the energising yoga session, first thing in the morning. The real milk in the fridge for tea, windows that open, very friendly staff and the carefully chosen healthy treats in the room.
The Rate for the Night – Weekend rates are higher than weekdays. A double with river views on a Friday starts from £250 and rises to £350. Standard doubles are from £190 – £280. Continental breakfast is £12.50 and a full English breakfast is £16.50.
For more info – www.thebingham.co.uk
Photography By Journalist Intern Elisabetta Landoni