Alexander Larman checks in to The Bingham Hotel, Richmond-upon-Thames, for a stylish stay and delicious repast…
Just ten minutes’ walk from Richmond station, west London, the opulent The Bingham Hotel offers both carefully designed luxury and breathtaking riverside views. Straddling the best of both urban and rural delights, the boutique Richmond Village is but a saunter away, as is the vast Richmond Park, former hunting ground of King Henry VIII and home to a proliferation of deer. The hotel also has a pretty top-notch restaurant, complete with surely one of the most knowledgeable sommeliers in the business. But then friendliness and a warm welcome are two of the characteristics that define The Bingham, making it one of the most relaxing boutique hotels in London for a lazy weekend. In summer, it’s the ideal spot at which to base yourself for some dedicated messing about in boats, while those of a horticultural or foodie persuasion will find further delights at the idyllic Petersham Nursery, just five minutes away on foot.
Our comfortably well-appointed room had several touches that lifted it above the norm, from the four-poster bed (always a sign of somewhere that has luxury ideals in mind) to the rather unexpected but always welcome presence of a Jacuzzi in the bathroom. The view, though, was the best part, with The Bingham’s close proximity to the Thames offering a gorgeous panorama of one of London’s most beautiful districts. Which made the large windows with comfortable window seats the perfect perch on which to relax and drink in the view.
Food and drink
Breakfast is a civilised affair, as befits a hotel of this calibre; Eggs Benedict with Parma ham was very good indeed, and made all the better by the elegant room, which is all poise and polish (literally in the case of the latter – when we arrive the night before, the staff were busy polishing the chandeliers). However, it’s the restaurant in full swing that we were more interested in, and so we returned for lunch. The dining room boasts similarly spectacular views as our rooms, so a delicious repast was complimented by a similarly delicious view. Food under new head chef Andrew Cole is accomplished and often unusual – the black bean cassoulet and bitter chocolate ganache are two highlights – but the real star of the show is restaurant manager-come-sommelier Ricardo, who recommended several brilliant wines (including a couple from filmmaker Francis Ford Coppola’s vineyard) by the glass, which were a fitting compliment to the meal. In the summer, dining on the terrace is a true delight, after which, do take a turn around the gorgeous Thames-facing gardens.
In a nutshell
Stylish and seductive boutique hotels are in short supply in this part of London, and The Bingham, long-heralded as one of the best places to stay around the capital, continues to offer an experience far superior to many of its competitors.