Brown's Hotel

33 Albemarle Street
Mayfair, London
Tel: 020 7493 6020 or check availability and book online
Green Park 0.2 miles

London's first upmarket hotel, opened by James Brown (Lord Byron's valet) in 1837 re-opens after a £19-million renovation overseen by Olga Polizzi. The stylish new design maintains the hotel's original charm while introducing a more contemporary feel and the hotel's features include a gymnasium, spa treatment rooms, The Grill restaurant and The Donovan Bar, which is lined with Terrence Donovan's iconic photographs.

Brown's Hotel London A room at Brown's Hotel, Mayfair, London « 1 of 2 photos »

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Afternoon Tea

Brown's Hotel reviews

We called in to Brown's for a cup of tea and a slice of cake after a trip to the Royal Academy. The Tea Salon was full (fair enough, for we had not booked) and so we were directed to an overspill area in the bar. From start to finish, it was an exceptionally disappointing experience. One of our number had spied simnel cake on the way in and was told that it was possible to have some whilst seated in the bar area. On ordering, we asked which kinds of cake were available and were told fruit cake and Victoria sponge ("The one with marzipan"). There was, we were told, no simnel cake available. We ordered three slices of sponge. In time three slices of simnel cake (complete with marzipan) arrived. We exchanged two for Victoria sponge and retained one. It is fair to say that I have never eaten cake like it. It was cold (we surmised that it might have been removed from the fridge and placed directly on to the plate), dry and tasteless. We received two slices of sponge per serving and I would say that each piece was less than 1cm thick at the thickest end of the wedge. In the interests of full disclosure, I should note that - with traditional British acceptance - we ate 2/3rds of it as we were hungry and did not complain at the time. The simnel cake was apparently quite good.

For brevity I will try to summarise the service, being as generous to it as possible: somewhere between average and poor. Long wait to receive the drinks menu on arrival, drinks poured the wrong way around and we had to request the bill twice.

On receiving the bill, we were astounded to see that we had been charged £42 for three pots of tea, three slices of cake, two small bottles of water and service charge. The cake had cost £7 a slice. We expressed our surprise to the bar manager, who advised us that those were Browns' prices and if it wasn't to our liking we might like in future to choose an establishment better suited to our price bracket. My friend at this point not unreasonably asked to speak to the hotel manager who, to her credit, appeared quickly and - after a good deal of discussion - was decent enough to take the cake off the bill.

We came away feeling disappointed. All three in our party had previously taken afternoon tea at Brown's and been quite satisfied. I would hope that this afternoon's performance was a blip, but we came away with the impression that what we had experienced epitomised all that is wrong with large London hotels: a singular lack of interest in how satisfied the customer was and a readiness to significantly over-charge.

We shall not be returning to Brown's for the foreseeable future nor recommending it to friends/family/clients. A great shame.

Useful review?
 by TLB (2 reviews), 22 Mar 2008
Very good, clean, charming hotel near Picadilly Circus.

Useful review?
 by Anonymous, 05 May 2007
We stayed at Brown's for three nights. While the neighborhood is convenient, the hotel was unexpectedly average.

The room decor was a bit understated and lacked personality. The highlight of the room was the bed, which was heaven to sleep in. Breakfast was average and we were overcharged for items and brought incorrect items as well. My partner's massage booking was bungled and he didn't receive the services he'd initially booked.

I asked for an voltage converter, and received an archaic looking piece of equipment which promptly blew a fuse in our room. A replacement or more modern converter was not procured.

I see no reason to stay here again, nor would I suggest it to friends.

Useful review?
 by Anonymous, 30 Apr 2007
The refurbishment has been done superbly - the hotel is now stylish and contemporary without losing the very British feel. We stayed overnight and had dinner in the restaurant... huge bed with melt-into duvet and felt cushions, etc. Perfect for a treat that gives easy access to Bond St. and the West End.

I also (surprisingly) had one of the best facials I've ever had in their treatment rooms from an Italian therapist.

The restaurant though was a disappointment - it lacked atmosphere (being half empty), the service was a little too stuffy and formal, and they seemed to overload the plates with overly-rich food.

Useful review?
 by Lexi (6 reviews), 24 Jan 2006

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