Winter took us by surprise this Valentine’s Day. Hurrying down the side streets of South London, the wind made our ears ache and eyes water. It was the sort of cold that we all thought we had avoided this year, when all along it had been waiting around the corner; ready to freeze our fingers and numb our noses.
Shivering, as we made our way down into the quiet of Orange Square, Pimlico, surrounded by pretty rows of boutiques and florists, we were glad that we’d soon be welcomed at The Orange Public House and Hotel, after accepting their lovely offer to spend Valentine’s Day with them. Being in a new relationship, I was also aware that a takeaway and a card weren’t going to cut it this year: I needed to pull out the big guns. Luckily, The Orange had it covered.
As we pushed open the doors to this beautiful gastro pub and hotel, a wall of warmth and cheery Sunday afternoon laughter greeted us. Inside, this small but beautifully formed hotel is every bit the cosy hideaway you’d hope for on a cold and grey February afternoon. Filled with exposed brickwork; warm stripped- back wood; glinting glass lanterns; softly burning candles and a crackling fire, this felt less like a South London hotel and more like a lovingly restored country home.
Set across four floors, this building has been sitting proudly on Pimlico Road since the nineteenth century. Today, its bar and restaurant sit across two of those floors, with just four bespoke rooms nestled away on the top floor. It is the sort of place you can arrive at on a Saturday afternoon and not leave until a Sunday evening; enjoying the warmth, food and soft sheets of the hotel, without ever having to leave. Perfect for a freezing cold Valentine’s Day.
After taking in the burning fire and Sunday afternoon roast dinners, we climbed the creaking staircase to our room: The Pimlico. The best room in the house, the room was just as lovely as the bar and restaurant downstairs. With a double height ceiling, showcasing the old exposed beams of the building, the room was as light as it was quiet, featuring the same stripped-back wood and soft colours as the rest of the building. It is clear a lot of time and thought has gone into decorating these rooms, with each featuring little details and quirks. The room also had three beautifully installed sash windows, which looked down on the lovely Orange Square and gently bustling Pimlico Road. As the wind blew outside and the window frames creaked, we quickly ordered a ‘snack’ (a big pizza cooked in the hotel’s pizza oven!) and watched people dart in and out of the shops below, avoiding the cold.
In case you do fancy leaving the comfort of your king-sized bed and roast dinner, then the area around The Orange is very much worth exploring. We did manage to force ourselves to leave the hotel for an hour to do just this and are glad we did. If you like interior design, then the area immediately around the hotel is definitely your cup of tea. We peeked into boutique after boutique, each filled with furniture as beautiful (and expensive) as the one before.
It’s probably important to note that this area borders beautiful Sloane Square, King’s Road, Belgravia and Knightsbridge, so it’s not necessarily bank-balance friendly (it’s a short walk to Harrods from here!) But, shopping aside, it’s a fantastic area to walk around. From the imposing red-bricked Victorian mansions, to the roman style villas overlooking quiet leafy squares, this is a glimpse of London at its finest. In and amongst these grand streets are also smaller, cobbled lanes, filled with pastel coloured mews houses and white washed cottages. You can spend a few hours wandering these streets, enjoying the contrast between the Ferrari filled streets and the quieter lanes.
The food here is also definitely worth mentioning. Initially, we meant to leave the warmth of the hotel for a Valentine’s dinner in the West End. We’re so glad we didn’t. Instead, we made the long journey down one flight of stairs and into the hotel’s softly lit restaurant for our Valentine’s meal. The food was as warm and welcoming as the hotel’s staff. Not content with our massive pizza earlier, we made a start on their Sunday roasts, before sharing the dessert platter, filled with honey coated marshmallows; coconut cake; chocolate fondant; passion fruit macaroons and little heart-shaped cookies. Amazing.
After a good night’s sleep in our room, we had just enough time to enjoy yet more food and breakfast. As we wandered downstairs, we were met by a dog, Holly the Dalmatian, who was waiting excitedly by the fire. It turns out that Holly loves The Orange as much as we were beginning to, coming in most days for her morning sausage and a belly rub from the hotels lovely staff. Holly, has fantastic taste.
Now a little quieter, we could fully appreciate the restaurant and its many nooks and crannies; including a little snug down near the wine cellar and a small enclosed terrace garden, filled with green succulents. Each part of The Orange has been restored and thoughtfully decorated, and as we ate our Eggs Benedicts, we were feeling more than a little smug that we got to spend Valentine’s Day here.
As we left, walking back out into a freezing Monday morning, we were sad to leave this special hotel behind. Friendly, beautifully presented and tucked away on the quiet streets of Pimlico, this is a hotel for anyone wanting less of the glitz of central London, and more a thoughtfully decorated and genuinely welcoming, bespoke hotel. (Or, like in my case, for those looking to impress someone on Valentine’s Day!)
Thank you, The Orange, for a perfect stay.