Words: Tim Heap
Set in the heart of the London’s West End, boutique hotel Victory House perfectly evokes the old-school glamour of cinema’s Golden Age.
The 86-room four-star property overlooks Leicester Square, which may cause alarm bells to ring for those who try their hardest to avoid the crowded plaza, bristling with tourists and buskers at any given time. Those alarm bells may ring louder when you consider the general purpose of a hotel room as a place to sleep away from home, and Victory House’s description of Leicester Square as “the square that never sleeps”.
However, visiting one weekend in April, those concerns were quickly put to the back of my mind.
After finding the hotel’s discreet entrance up a side street off the northern edge of the square, we check in at the small lobby’s front desk. The lobby is refined and elegant, with parquet wood flooring, mustard-yellow leather booths and gold fixtures and fittings, and the adjacent restaurant Petit Bistro, is, as the name suggests, styled after the wine bars of Paris.
Dark and atmospheric corridors, brightened by cinema posters from days gone by, lead away from the reception to the lifts and stairs used to access guest rooms. While the hotel’s design is partly inspired by Leicester Square’s cinematic pedigree, it’s done so with class and restraint – old film reels and red carpets are thankfully absent.
After the moody darkness of the corridors, our room was surprisingly light, with views of the square below from a small corner bay window complete with a cute seating area that proves perfect for people-watching with an afternoon cup of coffee.
The gold fittings from the lobby continue into the room décor, with an open hanging rail leading into a sleek wooden sideboard, and matching wooden panelling and brushed gold lamps by the bed.
Most surprising is how quiet the room is, even in the middle of a Saturday afternoon. It’s not that it’s eerily silent, but most of the noise from the bustle of below is filtered out, and when it comes time to sleep, there’s even less of a disturbance. Clearly no cost has been spared on soundproofing.
The black-and-white bathroom with walk-in shower was chic but also felt slightly too close to the rest of the room to assure complete privacy – a feeling enhanced by the less-solid-than-I-would-have-liked sliding door.
Retro touches such as a framed film still and faux '50s-style telephone (which proved slightly confusing to use when trying to arrange a late checkout!) reinforced the general modern-meets-classic design scheme.
While rooms lack a full minibar, everything in them is included in the nightly rate – so that covers bottles of water, biscuits and hot drink options. Nothing too exciting, but it keeps things easy and you can get your hands on extra snacks and drinks from shops nearby.
A nice touch to staying at Victory House is its Bed for a Bed initiative, in support of homelessness charity Crisis. Each room sold to a guest results in a donation being made to the charity to help end homelessness – so it’s an added comfort to know that you’re helping someone get off the streets, whether in London or further afield.
Before checking out in the morning, we caught the tail-end of the breakfast buffet, with all the usual hotel fare, from cereals, fresh fruit and pastries and breads to hot English breakfast components, and coffee just how you like it.
My boyfriend got a surprise when a jug of what was labelled as grapefruit juice turned out to be tomato, but other than that, breakfast went without a hitch and set us up for the day.
If the enduring appeal of cinema’s Golden Age is in the understated, enigmatic qualities of its biggest stars, then Victory House has distilled all that into a charming boutique hotel that serves as both a jumping off point for exploring London and as a bolthole to get away from it all.
Rooms start from £158/night. victoryhouselondon.com