Sitting on a Westminster side street, moments from Buckingham Palace, you’ll find The Guardsman hotel. As a five-star residence with opulent neighbours, it may seem surprising that this spot falls into the ‘hidden gem’ category. Despite its glamorous, gold-accented facade, this spot blends in with its surroundings; however, once you step inside, you’ll see what makes this hotel stand out.
Whether you’re visiting The Guardsman for an overnight stay, an afternoon tea, or simply a drink at the bar with a friend, the staff treat you like an honoured guest. Spoiler alert for the rest of this review: The Guardsman staff were warm, friendly, and funny, while conducting a five-star service.
The afternoon tea
Afternoon tea at The Guardsman is a lovely experience, enjoyed in the plush lounge area, amongst a chandelier and book-laden shelves. The space almost feels like a lavish living room. Soft music plays in the background and gorgeous crockery is laid out ahead of your seating; while a glass of champagne each comes just moments after you sit down. As previously noted, the service was fantastic throughout the experience; our host recommended teas and had a little laugh with us, and even the most specific of dietary requirements were catered for.
The afternoon tea is inspired by the Royal Parks, and comprises four sandwiches, two scones, and four sweet treats per person. This was one of few afternoon teas I’ve eaten where I left feeling full – and almost incapable of lifting myself out of the sofa’s sumptuous cushions. It’s not just the food that’s bountiful; the teapot is huge too (and warmed intermittently by the team). I loved the fact that the sandwiches each used different types of bread: tomato bread, turmeric bread, sourdough, and a bread roll. My favourite was the truffled chicken mayo roll, as it was just lightly creamy, and tasted as though it had been made using a properly roasted chicken, as opposed to a pre-packed version.
As for the sweeter elements, the scones were incredibly soft, and there was a varied selection of jam flavours, alongside the cream. The patisseries were beautiful, colourful, and carefully crafted. My favourites were the ‘mushroom’ (lemon sponge, with a strawberry yoghurt mousse cap); and the chocolate rose, with hidden blueberry filling.
Dinner and drinks
Dinner at The Guardsman is a classically British affair: starters include the likes of heritage tomato and basil soup, seasonal asparagus, and pressed ham hock; while Camden Hells-battered fish and chips, lamb rump, and steamed trout make up some of the mains. The dining area, situated on the lower ground floor, is decked out with leather seating and a darker colour scheme. The walls are adorned with traditional, yet fun, portraits and paintings.
I must confess, by the time dinner rolled around, I was still full from the afternoon tea. However, the British menu beckoned, and I could manage a main dish at least (sorry, ham hock, I’ll be back for you!) I opted for the Cornish hake, served with roasted purple potatoes, chorizo, and peppers. The fish was soft, but it was the chorizo that really brought the flavour. I also enjoyed the variation of texture in the dish: soft potatoes and fish, firm chorizo, and crunchy onions and red peppers. Another good choice was the steak – cooked nicely to medium – partnered with triple cooked chips. The presentation in both these dishes was on point.
To quench your thirst, there is an ample drinks menu and separate wine list. There is a nice selection of spirits on the former; I simply enjoyed a good rum and coke.
Staying at the hotel
If all that indulgence has you ready to recline and rest, well, The Guardsman is just the place to do so. It is a hotel, after all. Guest rooms are split into ‘rooms’ for short visits and ‘residences’ for longer stays. No matter where you’re staying, the rooms are incredible – in my room, I had a TV that turned into a mirror when switched off, and built-in Bluetooth speakers in the bathroom.
Breakfast is incredibly impressive. The sheer amount of options is insane, plus you can tailor any of the dishes as you wish. I also liked the quirky amendments to some of the dishes: egg and toasted soldiers became egg and guardsmen, for example.
The fluffy pancakes were a winning choice: the portion was large, the pancakes thick, and the sweet maple was balanced out by the bacon. You have the option to dine in the same area as dinner is served, or via room service. If you know what you’d like ahead of time, you can fill out the pre-booking menu with your preferred order and 15-minute delivery slot, and hang it on your door the night before. Just like magic, it will be delivered the next day.
To conclude this review, The Guardsman is a gem of a hotel. As expected for the location, room rates start in the triple figures, but afternoon tea is a more attainable £65pp (hey, London prices, peeps). Although the food, presentation, and amenities are top notch, the real jewel in the crown is the impeccable service. You’ll leave here with a smile on your face, that’s for sure.