Get glamorous and then cosy at Kimpton Hotels thanks to their new partnership with fashion brand Anthropologie
That's exactly what you get when you stay in the plush hotel, on Oxford Street, which belongs to the Kimpton Hotels and Restaurants brand, part of IHG Hotels & Resorts. The gorgeous building oozes sophistication and beauty - and now it's got an extra little bit of glitz thanks to the hotel brand's new partnership with fashion brand Anthropologie. The collaboration which see guests staying at Kimpton properties across the UK able to access complimentary seasonal Anthropologie accessories during their stay, launched at the end of October - and I was honoured to be invited to be among the first guests to experience this.
The partnership was created in response to the travel trend for ‘minimalist maximalism’, which sees travellers pack light for ease and necessity. However, with this, and also with people focusing on essential items like clothing and toiletries, it's items like jewellery, statement bags and accessories which are often forgotten. Or, in the case of limited space, they are the first to go when you are making space in your case. But, the fear of forgotten items often sparks unwelcome ‘pack-xiety’ - so this partnership has been launched to help relieve that stress.
People can borrow items including stylish bags, belts and a range of stunning jewellery items for the duration of their stay - and it's free of charge - so there's no need to panic if you're getting ready for your evening and realise you're missing that one special piece needed to finish off your outfit. This also makes it perfect for people, like my mum and I, who always seem to run out of space in their suitcase when packing for a weekend away and end up then starring at that case wondering whether you really do need that evening bag . . .
My mum, Julie, and I were invited to stay at The Clocktower Hotel during a weekend in early November, only a few days after the partnership had begun. When we walked into the grand and luxurious reception area the first thing we noticed was the beautiful signature bronze sculpture of the horse which stands proudly welcoming guests. We are horse lovers so we were instantly impressed, and even more so when we realised that it had been placed there as a nod to the history of this huge and elegant Grade II* building.
It was a former home of the Refuge Assurance Company and was built between 1891 and 1895. It may be celebrating 30 years as a hotel this year, (which felt fitting because I've also celebrated my 30th birthday this year), but the staff are clearly proud of the illustrious heritage of the place they work. We were told, for example, that the statue was placed there because at one time a horse would come into that area as its rider delivered letters. It was wonderful to wonder about the history of the building and the people who had been there before us throughout all parts of our stay such as when we sat and enjoyed our evening meal and breakfast in the Refuge dining room and admired the decorative archways or sat and relaxed in our spacious and modern room.
'Anthropologie items to suit every style'
But, back to the main reason behind our stay - the Kimpton and Anthropologie partnership. The collection of items that you can borrow from is aptly called the 'Forgot It? We’ve Got It! Anthropologie Accessories Collection'. The items chosen are selected by Anthropologie’s stylists and refreshed bi-annually to reflect trend seasonality. Guests can look at what's available by scanning a QR code found in their room which seamlessly directs them to a webpage displaying the current Kimpton X Anthropologie Accessories Collection. From there, you can browse items and also click on a link to be directed to the Anthropologie website to buy, if you want to recreate your travel style post-stay.
Once we had checked in and were shown to our room - which was an absolutely stunning two double premium room on the second floor - the first thing I did was scan the QR code and see what was available. There were a total of 10 items available, including two belts, five bags and two bracelets. Mum and I quickly made our choices as there were two items that jumped out to us, according to our personal tastes. For me it was a beautiful faux leather silver clutch bag which had a pretty all-over cross-hatch detail and for mum it was a timeless classic gold slim cuff bracelet.
One thing I did notice is that the items available would easily compliment most outfits and fit most people's tastes because they were quite simple, but still wonderfully eye-catching, and with universally-liked colours of black, silver and gold. I assume these themes were chosen by the stylist purposefully because they are the best way to ensure that they appeal to the majority of people, no matter what their personal style.
Selections made, we then had to cross our fingers that they were still available as only one or two of each item is on offer to borrow, and they are given out on a first-come-first-serve basis. I went down to reception to enquire, and was pleased when the very friendly and helpful staff told me that each item was still available. They went into a back room and reappeared with the items - along with a waiver I had to sign before I was able to take them.
In a nutshell, I signed to say that I understood that the items were only being loaned to me for the duration of my stay, I would look after them, and they would be returned in the same condition they had been given to me in, which was pristine, when I checked out - and if I didn't abide by any of these conditions I'd be liable to pay for the item. Not a problem, of course, and completely understandable.
I am surprised that there is no rental cost involved to the guest. It's brilliant that there isn't as it means the experience is inclusive to all guests. So, as there is no charge at all, it definitely makes sense that a waiver must be signed so that the products are protected - and that means many more guests can enjoy them in the weeks to come. It's a win/win for everyone.
One small thing I would say would that it would make the process slightly easier if there was any way that you could check if your item of choice is available via the QR code, and also request for it to be sent to your room. The reason I say this is that you may not realise that you are missing that much needed accessory until you are half way through getting ready - and that's not the most convenient time to have to go down to reception.
'An opulent but relaxed setting in the hotel'
After a quick change in our fantastic room, mum put the bracelet on her wrist, I put my purse into the bag and we headed down to the dining area for our evening meal. We are both vegetarians, and I am pleased to say there was plenty of choice for us on the menu - which is designed in a tapas style so that diners can share a range of delicious delights. There's no need for food envy here!
The menu was another demonstration of how proud the staff are of the location of the hotel as some of the dishes are made using ingredients found locally. So, we had to choose the Polen Bakery sourdough as one of our dishes, which was made by the hotel's favourite independent bakery in the city. We decied to top it with burrata cheese, which came with zhug, sumac onions, sun dried tomatoes and chilli. We also ordered the patatas bravas, triple cooked chips, purple sprouting brocolli, and British green leaf salad - all accompanied by a glass of prosecco each.
All of the food was wonderful, but I have to say that the indie bread loaf was a standout dish; the perfect combination of crunchy crust surrounding wonderfully soft bread. The creamy burrata and warming patas bravas were also highlights of the meal. The variety of flavours, spices, herbs, and the mixture of hot and cold dishes meant that, while these are not elements of a meal you would traditionally put together on a plate, it was actually extremely enjoyable and kept our tastebuds tingling. The style of the menu made for a casual vibe, even in such an opulent setting, which we appreciated as it made us feel relaxed.
After a leisurely meal, we returned to our room - which included two double beds, a safe, tea and coffee facilities, a mini fridge, free wifi, a smart TV, a bath tub with a shower and a classic Chesterfield armchair and side table - for the evening. We both enjoyed a lovely, warm shower and then changed into our pyjamas, made a cup of tea and each settled into our beds to watch some TV before winding down for the evening.
We had never stayed in a room with two double beds before, we are used to either sharing one double bed or staying in a twin room with two single beds, so we felt like we'd been spoiled to each be able to stretch out and have a double bed to ourselves. It's safe to say that any future hotel stays will leave something lacking if they don't offer this luxury. We both loved it for the night that we were there though, and awoke feeling cosy and well rested.
When we returned to the Refuge dining area for breakfast the following morning we decided we would use our borrowed bag and bracelet for one last time as we liked them so much - it would be rude not to! Besides, if you can't use an evening bag, even at breakfast time, in a 5* hotel then when can you? Again, the food was delicious, and there was plenty of choice. I enjoyed a cooked vegetarian breakfast, complete with veggie sausages - a rare treat when having the veggie version of full English when out in a restaurant. Mum was also pleased with the continental option, which included cereal and one of her favourite treat breakfast dishes - a pain au chocolat.
Then, before we knew it, it was time to leave and our magical time in Manchester was over. We checked out, handing back our borrowed Anthropologie accessories first, of course. The experience was fabulous, and one mum and I both said we'd be keen to repeat. It's worth noting that although mum and I did not do this as we wanted a quiet evening in the hotel, guests are welcome to take their borrowed items out of the hotel too if needed. This is really helpul if you have an ocassion to attend, especially as we are now well and truly in the festive season.
I think the partnership between Kimpton Hotels and Anthropologie is absolutely fantastic, and I suspect it won't be long till more hotel and fashion brands also team up and follow suit. It is also offered at the Kimpton Fitzroy London, the Kimpton Charlotte Square in Edinburgh, and the Kimpton Blythswood Square in Glasgow. I would highly recommend booking your stay now - and choose your amazing Anthropologie item as soon as you are checked in to avoid disappointment and ensure it's all yours (at least for the night).