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Taj 51 Buckingham Gate Suites and Residences is a historical building with more heritage than an episode of Antiques Roadshow. And it’s just a five minutes walk from Victoria station. But what really makes this property so different from most London hotels, is that it could make a first-time tourist feel as if they were really living in the city like a local. It’s the kind of place that would make it even easier to fall in love with London and want to call it home. Undoubtedly, the food has a lot to do with it. It’s a cornerstone at Taj and the residences boasts a Michelin star Indian kitchen, Quilon and offers breakfast and afternoon tea at its spacious dining room, Kona.
Jasmine Indian Tea at Kona
There are three kinds of tea available, Sherlock Holmes, Alice In Wonderland (comes with a table laden with peonies and the Madhatter’s Hat!) and Jasmine Indian tea at Kona (£40). In a city with so many exotic cuisines, it was refreshing to see how a quintessential British past-time like this would be interpreted. I was not disappointed. As a fan of flavourful and spiced savoury dishes, the street-food inspired offerings definitely incited more enthusiasm than the usual finger sandwich – from my personal favourite, the chicken tikka pantheras to the colourful and chunky vegetarian Darbari pinwheels with beetroot and tomato bread, each of the nibbles were hearty and flavourful. Instead of the usual scones, Kona delivered their own pink, rose infused versions, served with a refreshing mango ‘jam’ and cinnamon butter. Another highlight, particularly for those with a pechant for sweets, was the salty caramel lassi. This is a yoghurt based drink that resembled a milkshake accompanied by a toffee crunch candy.
Oh my gosh, the rooms. Sizeable, luxuriously kitted out with sleek kitchen fittings and open, inviting bathrooms, talking about them makes me feel more like an estate agent than a guest, precisely because I want to live there so badly. I had arranged to shoot in a particularly special apartment – the Cinema Suite, a hedonistic marriage of Bollywood and Hollywood glamour with a healthy dose Gucci-esque florals – and then for an overnight stay in one of the modern spaces that overlooks the roof of Buckingham Palace. Think fresh fruit, chocolates on our pillows during the turn down service (I can’t remember the last time a hotel treated me to this!) and living rooms begging to be lounged in. The one bedroom suite we were in had so much space it provided ample privacy when either my photographer or I needed to work in quiet during our staycation.
The next day, we were treated to one of the best quality continental breakfast tables I’ve had in London. Fresh, delicately smoked salmon, cold cuts and a beetroot salad were a welcome sight. Then there was our favourite – the egg dishes that would motivate even me to wake up for the earliest meal of the day.
For those who are looking for a luxury, comfortable home away from home, you’re welcome. I’ve just found the place for you.
London SW1E 6AF