While the rest of London's luxury hotels go the way of modern lines or French classicism, the Milestone steeps itself in all things undoubtably English. First is the location on the southern edge of Kensington Gardens—upper-floor rooms have a view of Kensington Palace itself. The hotel is actually three lush mansion townhouses that have been combined, so each room is distinct in size and shape (one of them retains an interior balcony from the days when it was a music room), and the furnishings—antique paintings, rich rugs, enormous beds, fat couches—make you feel like you're staying in a rich relation's country mansion rather than a citified hotel. Floors creak, walls are upholstered, and it's one man's job to keep all the wood polished. You're awash in thoughtful amenities, from a welcome cocktail in the glass conservatory to candles lit by the bathtub to a small bag of prunes and another of handmade hard candy waiting beside your bed at night. Staff, from the top-hatted doormen to the butler that attends to higher-level rooms, is alert and discreet.
High tea, taken in its ground-floor Park Lounge with a view of Kensington Gardens, is a seemingly endless feast of pastry made on property, and if you can't finish it all, the Milestone will pack a carton so you can have it later—although doggy bags are generally frowned upon in Britain, the hotel doles out some 11,000 such boxes every year. It's just one of the many ways this hotel delivers on the sort of Englishness that will thrill Anglophiles. If there's a downside, it's that High Street Kensington is not the most happening neighborhood anymore, and getting to the major sites will require jumping the Tube, but the gentility of the experience is so special that it's a flaw most are happy to overlook.
- Jason Cochran