In the days leading up to the #weddingoftheyear of His Royal Highness Prince Harry and Ms Meghan Markle – now the Duke and Duchess of Sussex – I find myself in London for business and, well, on a trip that serendipitously happens to coincide with the Royal wedding celebrations. Almost. So, on the morning that I’m supposed to depart London, I ring the airline and hotel concierge to extend my stay at The Hari for an extra day, and boy, I’m glad I did.
The Hari is among the crème de la crème of hotels in the British capital. The five-star establishment, situated in the residential streets of London’s elegant Belgravia neighbourhood, is just a few minutes’ walk from Knightsbridge (hello, Harrods), and Sloane Square. The luxurious property, which opened its doors two years ago, has 85 guest rooms, including 14 luxury suites and The Penthouse. Supported by Preferred Hotels & Resorts, it is the first hotel to open under The Hari brand, the vision of Aron Harilela, chairman and CEO of Harilela Hotels Limited. General Manager Andrew Coney says, “The Hari has a variety of categories in all shapes and configurations – we don’t take the one-size-fits-all view. My personal favourites are the Studio Suites with their wonderful views of Belgravia, even from the bathtub.”
You fall in love with The Hari the moment you step into this exquisite boutique hotel. Expect a modern but at the same time elegant decor, polite and helpful staff, and a quintessentially British vibe. Service is thoughtful and comprehensive, down to the very last detail. A coffee while you wait in the lobby, perhaps, or breakfast pastries to go. The doormen, dressed in stylish tartan ensembles, are at hand to greet and assist you with a smile. Something else that makes me grin from ear to ear upon my arrival: a tome placed on a shelf unit in the lobby, titled The James Bond Archives. (Psst: I ended up ordering the very same book online a few weeks later). What’s not to love about The Hari?
After running around various parts of London all day, I look forward to returning to my room. The King Premium features just the right size bed, a cosy nook by the window and complimentary high-speed Wi-Fi; being a massive techie, I appreciate the bedside USB charging port and portable handy phone. The sleek marble bathroom comes with a vanity unit, walk-in rainforest shower and Noble Isle amenities. But wait, there’s more. I am delightfully surprised one evening when I discover a chocolate map of Belgravia in my room, courtesy of the hotel, of course.
If you’re feeling peckish during the day you can order from The Hari’s 24-hour room-service menu or head to the in-house restaurant or bar. Il Pampero – located on the lobby level – is a charming restaurant boasting a traditional Italian menu and an extensive wine and cocktail list. It’s open for breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea and dinner. “The tonnarello cacio e pepe is my favourite,” Coney tells me. “The delicious home-made pasta is served from the Parmesan wheel and the theatre of the service is really eye-catching.” When I sit down at one of Il Pampero’s cosy circular booths for lunch, I opt for the Sardinian pasta cooked in white wine, garlic, chilli, clams, shavings of bottarga (cured fish roe) and wild garlic. Hours later, at The Hari Bar, I belatedly wash it down with a delicious virgin mojito, one of the best I’ve ever had.
The Hari Bar is the hotel’s chic literary-themed lounge and it’s absolutely my go-to den to sit back and relax in the evenings. The place is decorated with hundreds of books on shelves, modern glass tables, plush seats and an array of fashionable art works. “We have an art curator to keep the art series rotating throughout the hotel and predominately in our bar area,” Coney explains. “We’ve had exclusive exhibitions with local galleries and photography in partnership with charities as well as individual items curated due to their unique style.”
If you fancy grabbing a drink or a quick bite in a buzzing atmosphere, then this is the place to be. The menu features a wide range of nibbles and mains. Must-try items are the grilled chicken burger and French fries with Parmesan and truffle oil. If you’re craving something sweet, definitely go for the doughnut balls filled with Nutella – they’re served with a vanilla milkshake. The Hari Bar’s speciality cocktail, The Hari, is made with Jensen’s gin, masala chai, honey and gold. When I ask for the check, it’s presented as a bookmark inside one of the books from the shelves. Clever.
The Garden Terrace (it has a retractable roof) is located upstairs, and is the venue for The Hari’s Royal wedding viewing party on the morning of the big day. Staff have decked out this magical retreat with a large screen, Union flags and table snacks to make the experience more enjoyable. It’s another example of the lengths staff go to throughout my stay to make me feel part of the celebrations: upon my arrival, a special edition of Vanity Fair’s Love & Royals issue – with Prince Harry and Meghan on the cover – is placed on the table in my nook; the night before the wedding, a Meghan Markle-themed Markle-Sparkle cocktail and a replica slice of lemon elderflower cake is waiting on the desk in my room when I return from a day out.
“Joanna, our guest relations manager, is a revelation,” says Coney. “She seeks out information on all of our guests – their likes, interests and the purpose of their visit. So many of our guests are taken aback by the personalisation of amenities and that genuine hospitality is encouraged throughout the hotel.”
Before my arrival, I’d already heard rave reviews about The Hari, and when I scrolled through its Instagram account I suspected my stay would be a memorable one. I had high expectations, and the hotel did not disappoint. I’ve already booked myself a room at The Hari for my next visit to London and, frankly speaking, I think you should, too.