The Franklin Restaurant by Alfredo Russo: Knightsbridge's hidden gem
While London's Knightsbridge area might be known for its ostentation, The Franklin Hotel is an insiders secret with subtle riches all of its own.
Sequestered behind the bustling Brompton road in Knightsbridge and a stone’s throw away from the Victoria and Albert Museum lies a piece of piccolo Italia. Interpolated as part of four Victorian houses in a 19th-century serpentine terrace in Egerton Gardens, The Franklin is a dark, moody, sultry and sensual boutique hotel with its deft arrangement of mirrored surfaces. Velvet and silk fabrics offset Carrara marble flooring, creating an ambience that radiates an Italian art deco style, which is no surprise considering the hotel is part of the Florence-based Starhotels Collezione group, headed by Elisabetta Fabri who has quietly been building up a British portfolio with the acquisition of the The Gore and The Pelham in the last few years. On arrival guests are warmly greeted by a smart and sophisticated attendant who sits at a round marble table in the lobby before they are escorted to one of the 35 rooms. With no formal reception to see to, this type of welcome makes you feel like you’ve stayed many times before, which is only a trait the Italians seem to pull off with their approach to hospitality. Each space is masterfully decorated in saturated palettes of greys and whites with precise proportions and historical details intact. It is in fact the work of interior design guru Anouska Hempel, whose other famous projects include Blake’s in South Kensington, which is widely considered to be the first boutique hotel when it opened in 1978.
The Franklin is discreetly hidden geographically, but is already attracting swathes of guests from all around the world who are coming to enjoy its decedent surroundings and first-class service and facilities. Its eponymous restaurant is overseen by Michelin-starred Italian chef Alfredo Russo and will be especially inviting this winter, with its fireplaces, smoky Venetian églomisé mirrors, candle holders and torchéres. The bar, meanwhile, has extensive martini and Champagne menus, as well as 22 types of gin—perfect for a nightcap or an apéritif. Most appealing is that it backs onto the private Egerton Gardens, and the burst of green outside makes a great contrast to the monochrome interior. There are delightful garden-facing tables on four patios. After a long day immersed in the cityscape of London, one can experience The Franklin’s hammam, located on the hotel’s ground floor, where hand-cut crystal doors open onto swaths of Lapicida marble. Here, guests can go for a steam or a spa treatment to cleanse any troubling tensions. The Franklin is that rare opportunity to stay in a hotel, full of art deco elegance, atoned with family-run Italian rituals that certainly make you feel like your staying in Venice, instead of just around the corner from Harrods.
The Franklin , 24 Egerton Gardens, SW3 2DB Knightsbridge, London Tel +44 (0)20 7584 5533 RESERVATIONS.THEFRANKLIN@STARHOTELS.COM