Covent Garden is great at this time of year. You can fill an afternoon browsing antique trinkets in the Jubilee Market Hall, pick up hand-made greetings cards at the Apple Market, or escape the cold air to pick up a steaming hot chocolate under the beautiful architecture of East Colonnade Market.
But in the sprawling streets surrounding one of our capital’s best-known markets is Seven Dials – another perfect location for a spot of retail therapy. Quaint jewellery shops, luxury lingerie stores and designer shoe shops alternate with quirky coffee shops and trendy restaurants. And at the famous centre of the shopping district Seven Dials, you have the Mercer Street Hotel – a perfect place to stay if you’re turning a shopping trip into a stylish weekend.
We booked in to a luxury suite on the sixth floor – a corner room with windows on either side, overlooking neon lights across the ‘dials’.
The reception greets you with over-sized Chesterfield-style chairs that look like they’re from a set off Alice in Wonderland, and you’ll pass several bold-statement contemporary art pieces before reaching the lift.
After a £15m refurbishment last year, our expectations were high. So when we opened the door to a boutique-esque room that was heavy in velvet throws and cushions, beautiful colonial-style furniture and a huge walk-in shower room complete with herbal-infused Essentiel Elements products, it was just what we’d hoped for.
But ladies, the best was still to come. The men will swoon over the wide-screen TV which comes complete with Apple technology. But after further exploration, a side door revealed every women’s dream – a neat little dressing room with your very own Nespresso coffee machine, Union Jack fridge, and wait for it, a beautiful bare light bulb surround mirror – so apt for a hotel in the heart of the theatre district. I felt like a West end stage queen.
That evening, we dined in the contemporary surroundings of the hotel’s aptly-named Dial restaurant on the ground floor.
The furnishings are bold statement hues of purple and the surrounding alcoves and walls are dotted with chintzy birdcages and contemporary art.
I started with the diver caught scallops, wrapped in pancetta on a leek puree. The smokiness of the bacon worked superbly with the subtle taste of the shellfish. I was in heaven.
My guest had the pan-fried white pudding. Although it lacked a ‘certain something’, he said it was pleasant with the slightly soft hen’s egg and the celeriac and truffle cream was light.
I had planned to go for the Gloucester Old Spot pork cutlet with colcannon, but after the waitress’ recommendation, I went for the corn fed chicken breast. And what a great recommendation it was. A confit of leek and feta served as a delicious filling and the cylindrical braised potato that the chicken was neatly perched on was delicious. Topped with a lemon and oregano oil and gravy, I felt like I was eating a winning dish off Masterchef. It really was worth writing about.
That’s why I felt a little guilty that my guest wasn’t quite as boastful. His pan fried best end of lamb was cooked nicely rare, but there wasn’t an abundance of meat. And the aubergine puree wasn’t quite to his taste. So it’s a good job his baked thin apple tart made up for it. Sweet, sticky and freshly baked, it was the pudding lover’s dream. My crème brulee and shortbread was divine – crispy on top and custardy in the middle, just how it should be. And this was a very special brulee too, as it left delicate notes of lavender on the palate. Wow.
After a hearty dinner we didn’t manage to indulge in the Dial bar’s cocktail menu, but rumour has it a special selection has been brought in for the festive season.
Instead, we put our feet up and watched movies from one of the most luxurious velvet sofas I’d had the pleasure to relax upon.
And after a delightful salmon and scrambled egg breakfast the next day, we perused the cobbled streets of Seven Dials – in the hope of conquering our main task – Christmas shopping.
The Radisson Blu Edwardian is offering one night’s luxury Bed and Breakfast from £220 per night (excluding VAT) based on two people sharing, subject to availability. Mercer Street Hotel, 20 Mercer Street, London, WC2H 9HD (020) 7836 4300.
By Lucy McGuire