A new boutique hotel in the British capital offers style, substance, and striding distance to some of London’s best-known landmarks.
What’s in a name? In the case of Vintry & Mercer, which debuted earlier this year on the doorstep of London’s financial district, the moniker references the hotel’s location near two ancient guild halls, ones founded to trade wine and fine textiles, respectively. Both enriched this historic quarter of the city in medieval times, just as they now inform the offerings at this smartly designed 92-room hotel within a stone’s throw of St. Paul’s Cathedral.
Situated at the end of a narrow cobbled lane next to the church of St. James Garlickhythe—another Christopher Wren landmark—Vintry & Mercer brings to the neighborhood the same sort of panache (courtesy of the same design firm) that earned accolades for its seven-year sister property in South Kensington, The Ampersand. Here, the plush contemporary look nods to the area’s mercantile heritage, with digitally printed wallpaper depicting old nautical charts or London street maps; velvet bedheads and drapes in marine blue or claret red or saffron; palm-leaf wall prints alluding to the East Indies, and, in the light-filled lobby, potted plants and green accents meant to remind visitors that when the guilds were founded centuries ago, the countryside was not far away.
Standard rooms are a little snug, but not poky, and like the rest of the accommodations they come with herringbone-tiled bathrooms, luxe toiletries from a Greenwich Village apothecary, patinated brass accents, and niches stocked with books and faux-vintage objets. The best suites feature glass-paneled balconies; mine looked straight across to the slate rooftop of St. James Garlickhythe, which takes its name from the medieval jetty where French garlic and wine were once unloaded.
Breakfasts are served downstairs at Vintry Izakaya, which serves Asian tapas (think miso-glazed eggplant or octopus okonomiyaki) for lunch and dinner. The restaurant that’s getting all the attention, however, is the Mercer Roof Terrace, which crowns the six-story building. Here, chef Chris Golding turns out mod-British dishes like snail-and-bacon pie and halibut with anchovy butter in a conservatory-like space whose open terrace affords equally impressive views of the dome of St. Paul’s and the Shard across the Thames. There is no such scenery in the hotel’s underground, vintage-glam speakeasy, but there is plenty of eye-candy, from the bar’s gorgeous maroon banquettes to the images of Ziegfeld Folly girls hand-beaded with thousands of Swarovski crystals. Barrel-aged cocktails are the order of the day—try the Sazerac.
Two nearby tube stations (Mansion House, at the top of the lane; and Bank, a six-minute stroll away) make getting around London easy. But one of Vintry & Mercer’s greatest assets is the plethora of attractions close at hand. Apart from historic pubs, there’s Sweetings, the city’s oldest fish restaurant, just around the corner on Queen Victoria Street. A six-minute walk will bring you to St. Paul’s; nine minutes in the other direction, and you’re at the Royal Exchange or the Monument to the Great Fire of London. Or cross Upper Thames Street, pass the Vintners’ Hall (the current building dates to the early 19th century), and cross the Thames at Southwark Bridge to visit the Tate Modern, Shakespeare’s Globe, or anywhere else your feet might carry you.
More information here.
This article originally appeared in the August/September 2019 print issue of DestinAsian magazine (“A Fine Vintage”).