Part of the Red Carnation collection of hotels, celebrating its centenary this year, the Milestone exudes old-world English charm with its cosy public rooms, antique furniture and oak panelling. Founded by Beatrice Tollman, the family-owned Red Carnation group is known for its thoughtful approach to hospitality, and the hotel has won countless awards for its focus on service excellence and warm, chatty and knowledgeable staff - qualities that were constantly in evidence during my three-night stay.
Directly opposite Kensington Gardens, this is the place for royal-watchers, given Kensington Palace is the official residence of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and their children (although sightings of other members of the Royal Family, including the Sussexes and Prince Andrew, have recently become highly unlikely). It's also a short walk from High Street Kensington tube station and close to attractions such as the Royal Albert Hall, the Natural History Museum and the Science Museum.
The Milestone is made up of three Victorian townhouses and first opened in the 1920s. There are lots of beautiful original features, including the private dining room, The Oratory, formerly the building's chapel; lovely black-and-white tiled flooring and the most colourful and charming lounge in which to partake of afternoon tea - all plump cushions, striped curtains and carved wooden armchairs. The Stables bar's racing theme is slightly overwrought, but I enjoyed a couple of excellent Cosmopolitans (your first drink is complimentary) and rediscovered Twiglets from my youth, so all was forgiven.
I stayed in the Meghan suite (shortly to be renamed, perhaps?), an enormous sort of British Sex & The City space with lemon and charcoal tones, and a leopard-print carpet. The bathroom was one of the largest and most luxurious I've had the pleasure to bathe in, and included a suitably throne-like toilet in a separate raised closet. All rooms are individually decorated, with original artworks and fresh flowers, and there are numerous generous touches such as homemade biscuits, chilled mineral water and seasonal fruit, as well as my personal favourite, fresh (not UHT) milk in the mini-bar and (hooray) a teapot. Bonus points for the free high-speed internet, USB ports next to the bed and a sustainable approach to toiletries and single-use plastic.
Beatrice Tollman taught herself to cook at her first hotel in South Africa, and her recipes feature on every Red Carnation menu, along with dishes from each executive chef. I eschewed the traditional breakfast kippers for her delicious cape-seed loaf (with honey from hives at sister hotel The Montague), and after several days of restaurant meals was very happy with my room-service order of another of her recipes, a chicken pot pie with mashed potato. If you are more inclined to push the boat out, Cheneston's restaurant offers fine-dining classics such as Dover sole without any stuffy formality.
Hop on a bus to Knightsbridge for a splurge at Harrods, arguably the world's most famous department store; stroll through Kensington Gardens into Hyde Park or walk past Church Street's antique shops to one of my favourite enclaves, Notting Hill, where you'll find Ottolenghi, Daylesford Organics, CORE by Clare Smith and boutique clothes stores such as Parisian brand Maje. Kensington High Street is not the exciting strip it once was, but there's a branch of the buzzy, Bombay-inspired Dishoom chain for an East India gimlet and a biryani.
An old-school hotel with an old-fashioned feel, the Milestone nevertheless offers every contemporary comfort and a truly comfortable, and comforting, stay. The Tollmans' passion for hospitality shines through in everything they do and their commitment to sustainability is impressive.
Rooms start from £340 a night. a night. See milestonehotel.com
Trudi Jenkins stayed as a guest of Red Carnation Hotels.
The staff are super-friendly, renowned for above-and-beyond service.
Minimalists may not appreciate the elaborate decor.