Wylde World: The Cheval Residences
Report by Leanne Bracey
Tucked away in the backstreets of Knightsbridge are The Cheval Residences, one-night and extended-stay luxury apartments; temporary homes to families from abroad, business people and nightly stopovers for those who might just want to enjoy the city. The Cheval Residences are like a hotel, but with the freedom of feeling like you’re in your own home. Whichever way, they are all dotted around London, within a few miles of each other, and very fancy.
I'm here at Cheval Knightsbridge because, like many others, I commute to London for work, choosing to live in a pretty and affordable seaside town rather than amongst the hustle and bustle of city life (been there, done that, didn't like it). Gorgeous seaside views aside, however, living outside of London does have its drawbacks; the lengthy commute and the price of sitting on a train for 3 hours a day being just two.
I'd heard about the residences through a friend, so decided to see what high-end central London living was all about. I stayed for a couple of nights in February, when it was cold, dark, wet and downright miserable. Being just 25 minutes walk from my place of work, it would feel like a holiday... and sure enough, it was total bliss; a departure from my normal crack-of-dawn rises and late nights home. What I was more excited about was living like a 'proper Londoner', something I hadn’t done for several years. For just a couple of nights, I felt like being the type of person who could stay out drinking in bars until late... and being able to roll out of bed 30 minutes before I need to be in an office. Oh, the possibilities!
The residences have apartments that can be booked for one night or an extended stay with a minimum of 3 months. They are luxurious to the max with Villeroy & Boch crockery, Kohler bathroom fittings, top of the range Siemens kitchen gadgets, and furniture from Skandium and Pinch Design. Off the long hallway is the the master bedroom with ensuite (it has a huge bath), a second comfortable bedroom, main bathroom and at the end, a joint kitchen and sitting room. The friendly and helpful concierge showed me around, pointed out anything I needed to know, made me aware he was just downstairs and if I needed a maid or anything housekeeping-related, I just had to call. I was tempted to ask for my ironing to be done, but spotted a perfectly good iron and ironing board in the cupboard so didn't think I'd get away with being that cheeky.
Awaiting me was a wonderful welcome hamper consisting of Coco Loco truffles and biscuits, Island Bakery shortbread, Rude Health granola and muesli and some Biona crisps and, in the fridge, classic breakfast staples of milk, butter, bread and a rather lovely bottle of Pinot Gris. I slightly regretted lugging a big bag of supermarket essentials containing many of the things already provided to me. Clearly this wasn’t needed, but there was also a Waitrose and Sainsbury's just a stone's throw away. I'd decided my first night was going to be a relaxing one, giving me time to spread out, make a mess and get to grips with residence living. It was actually just like being at home but with things that actually worked. The oven was super-speedy, unlike my rubbish one back home, so dinner was cooked bang on time. I wondered if they would notice me trying to vacate with a Siemens oven and microwave! The crockery and cutlery were laid out like an OCD's idea of heaven and everything you might need to whip up a decent culinary storm had been thought about. There was a large table, enough to accommodate a good sized family, but due to bad habits, on went the TV (complete with Sky), and I sat on the floral sofa to watch The Real Marigold Hotel as I ate. This was followed by a lovely hot bath and was soon surprisingly happy to be on my own. I was also surprised just how quiet it was for sucha centrally located property, and slept well, although a pillow menu would've been appreciated, but then I am dead fussy!
My route to work and back took me via Sloane Square and then along Sloane Avenue so I browsed in the windows of Chanel, Miu Miu and YSL. I turned the corner and walked alongside Harrods, stopping to have a look at the fab Marc Jacobs window display, and it took every ounce of restraint not to go inside. I had a meeting at the Mandarin Oriental and normally I'd be clock-watching in order to rush back to the station to get home but tonight I felt quite liberated and I could enjoy the freedom of living centrally. I toyed with the idea of making the most of the area and wandering the streets in search of a great place for a lone girl to have dinner (something I love doing) but quite frankly, I was too excited about going back to the my temporary abode. So much for late-night living like a Londoner!
Pottering around the apartment, I deduced this place would really suit many types of people wanting to be in London for a whole host of reasons. Families from elsewhere in the country or further afield would find being so close to everything really fun. Then, of course, you have the business person who might appreciate staying in a home from home, perhaps with a few colleagues; a hotel can sometimes feel too claustrophobic, no matter how big the room. It would also be a brilliant base for a group of people on a birthday or some kind of celebration, the cost of a decent hotel room would be the same anyway plus everyone can chip in. There's everything you need for a weekend of shopping just on the doorstep. The Science Museum, V&A and Natural History Museum 10 minutes to your right of the residence entrance and Oxford Street, Piccadilly Circus to your left, a short bus ride away. Knightsbridge certainly isn’t short of super-cool shops and restaurants, so there’s plenty to do just in this area alone.
But for me, despite being in the thick of it all, I was just looking forward to some peace and quiet, an early night and a lie in. I repeated the same thing over and over... eat, watch TV, bath and bed. You can't take the seaside and chilled-out living out of a girl, after all.