The Handbook
The Handbook

The Central London luxury hotel scene has been shaken up by Treehouse London, a fun, quirky and entirely unique hotel soon to be on everyone’s lips.

When it comes to London’s top luxury hotels most of them subscribe to a bit of a formula – seriously British service (I’m talking doormen in tails and white gloves), a fine-dining  (ideally Michelin) restaurant and a listed, historic building to house it all in. Obviously, there are tonnes of other reasons that make a London hotel five star, well, five star, but the top players do tend to be of the same ilk, or at least try to be.

But is it time for a change? London’s hotel scene is following suit of its modern food scene (which has changed tenfold in the last decade), proving that top hotels don’t have to be super expensive and old fashioned, and maybe people are after something a little different, quirkier, a little more ‘them’ after all.

Enter Treehouse London, the latest hotel to open at the top of Regent Street on Langham Place, that boasts whimsical interiors, a modern Mexican restaurant, a chic wrap-around rooftop bar and a young, cool sneaker-wearing, smiling service. Oh, and did I mention it has the most epic views you’ll find in a London hotel? I bedded down above W1 for a night in the treetops…

The building is full of surprises…

From the outside Treehouse has to be one of the least inspiring, ugliest buildings in W1 – it’s a kind of depressing block of soviet-looking grey and even though it towers well above most of the other buildings in the area, it somehow manages to go unnoticed almost entirely. Don’t let this put you off, don’t worry, this review does get better.

When I arrived, somewhat confused, I was directed through the ground floor coffee shop to the lifts and up to the 15th floor where the hotel begins. It’s a clever move by the hotel owners, SH Hotels & Resorts, who have gotten around the ugly building issue by housing the rooms on the lower level floors and completely gutted the top floors to make way for a seriously chic, whimsical woodland-inspired reception, restaurant, bar and rooftop area.

As the lift doors opened, the room was flooded with golden daylight – the type you only get that high up above the buildings, made all the more apparent thanks to the huge panoramic windows that let it in. We’re used to skyscrapers popping up every other week in The City, but it’s unusual to see the tops of Regent Street facades, the head of the Langham Hotel opposite with billows of smoke coming out the chimneys – there was something quite ‘Mary Poppins’ about the whole thing.

The interiors are made for Instagram moments…

The interiors are fun and certainly of-the-moment – there’s enough rattan in the restaurant to bring back the 1960s, botanicals hang Pinterest-perfect from the ceiling and the stripped back, concrete ceilings give Treehouse a cool, ‘we don’t take ourselves too seriously’ vibe.

But there are little quirks too that you won’t find in every other ‘in vogue’ place, from the check-in desk covered in dozens of little jars of ribbons, buttons and trinkets to make up a curiosity case of something you’re more likely to find in an old school haberdashery to the mismatching vintage furniture that looks plucked from LA’s painfully hip Rose Bowl flea market.

It’s chic, but with a conscience

Treehouse’s dedication to sustainability is rare in the London luxury hotel market – they go way beyond asking you to reuse your towels. In fact, the whole group of SH Hotels & Resorts, which has outposts in New York, Miami and LA, use no single-use plastic anywhere and at Treehouse at least, they’ve done away with minis in favour of refillable giant bottles of natural toiletries – which are gorgeous smelling and nourishing – and a water station on each floor stocked with glass bottles so you can refill water for your room whenever you want.

Actually, it was a bit of a wakeup call to how hotels should be doing it and testament to the fact you don’t need to be on a retreat in Bali to engage in sustainable travel. London and other big cities should be doing their bit too and Treehouse are the prefects of that mentality.

The views will leave you speechless…

We’re not exactly lacking in jaw-dropping vistas in London, from Sky Garden to The Shard, but few buildings boast such stunning views slap bang in the middle of W1.

You really have to see them to believe them but looking down on toy-sized red buses, black cabs and telephone boxes from that height and seeing the iconic spire of the All Saints church from above, gave me a real ‘London moment’. I also took great pleasure in trying to locate my Hackney flat from the opposite side of the building as the huge, unspoilt glass windows literally wrap 360 degrees around the building.

It was a smart move of the hotel to design the restaurant and bar over the upper levels to really make the most of that view. Plus, the restaurant is open to the public, so you don’t need to be staying to reap its benefits.

Talking of food…

Treehouse London’s restaurant, Madera, is one of the capital’s most talked about new openings – there is something about a restaurant and a view that people go wild for.

The menu is described as “an elevated, modern, and organic take on traditional Mexican cuisine” – so expect colourful small plates, pretty cocktails and contemporary twists on tacos. And when they say “elevated” they mean it quite literally, this has to be one of the best views from a restaurant in London. It snakes around the building and you can spy everything from the shoppers of Regent Street to the BBC, CenterPoint and The BT Tower, depending on where you sit.

The star of the menu has to be the dedicated Taqueria where you can order a range of tacos from zesty king shrimp to rich carne asada and crispy beer-battered halibut.

The ‘Pan Plano’ is also worth a shout out – a Mexican-style flatbread baked in a wood fire. I tried the tequila prawns topping, which comes with tequila and evoo-marinated king prawns, pesto-marinated heirloom tomatoes, melted mozzarella, piquillo peppers and topped with crispy shallots. Simultaneously indulgent but crisp and fresh.

I visited on a Saturday night and the vibe is certainly buzzy – it’s got that Sushi Samba or Aqua Shard type thing going on, where people are dressed up and look ready to party. If you’re after a tamer atmosphere, weekdays and lunch are probably best, but the beauty of Madera is that it’s a restaurant that goes through completely different transformations all day, from calm and serene at breakfast time to bright and sun-drenched in the afternoon (when London’s weather is on our side) to sexy and fun come the evening as London’s firefly lit skyline comes to life.

The restaurant goes through completely different transformations all day, from calm and serene at breakfast time to bright and sun-drenched in the afternoon to sexy and fun come the evening as London’s firefly lit skyline comes to life.

The bar has scooped one of London’s best views…

I know I keep banging on about the view, but it really is pretty magical and no more so than on the 16th floor bar, The Nest. Pre-6pm you can book a place but after that it’s reserved for hotel guests – reason to book a stay alone.

Again, there’s 360-degree views of the capital with outdoor seating, heaters and blankets to take off the wind factor. Inside, the interiors run on the same treehouse theme with plenty of green foliage and natural materials, made fancy with a DJ deck and cool cocktail list. The ‘Chickadee’ is worth an order if, like me, you like a classic Aviation. Blended with 14 Ocho Tequila, Lillet Blanc, violet and almonds, it’s a Mexican take on the old favourite and I could quite literally sink 10 of them.

Despite the post-6pm residence-only rule, come summer this place is going to be the place to get a table, it’ll be rammed but it will be so much fun.

The rooms are a mix of whimsicality and luxury…

Of the 95 rooms at Treehouse, 15 are suites which immediately puts the hotel into heights as lofty as its rooms. While the spectacular views of the upper floors are saved for the restaurant and bar, the rooms, and certainly the suites, do not disappoint in terms of size or comfort but, if we had to pick out one downfall it’s that the interiors are a little confused.

Industrial concrete ceilings and stripped (totally intentional) walls are paired with quirky additions such as a Paddington Bear toy or a sloth cushion on the bed, a Magic 8 Ball on the bedside and a vintage baseball glove draped over the wardrobe space. Perhaps the quirky decoration is just a nod to nostalgia, but it made me unsure who the interiors were designed for – the eco-conscious young couple or a family.

Saying that, everything you want to be super luxe in the rooms are, from the bedding to the huge bed and the best bit, the freestanding copper bath in the corner of the room. A bath in the room might be entirely impractical (especially if, like me, you’re staying with a friend rather than your other half), but it’s deliciously indulgent. Plus, who wouldn’t want to take a bubble bath with the BT Tower looming over them from outside the window?

The location is second to none…

Perched on Langham Place but literally a stone’s throw from Regent Street and Oxford Circus and not far from two of the capital’s shopping meccas, Liberty and Selfridges, Treehouse London is perfectly placed for those wanting to reap the benefits of W1. Add to that the bars and restaurants of Fitzrovia, Bloomsbury and Soho and the leafy greenery of Regent’s Park just up the road, and there really isn’t a better spot to be, especially for a first-timer to the capital. Or, for any Londoner like me, who loved the novelty of sleeping, treetop-style, perched above one of the city’s most iconic streets.

Find the Treehouse London and Madera restaurant at 14-15 Langham Place, Marylebone, London W1B 2QS

Double Room rates start from £279 per night.

www.treehousehotels.com

The Handbook has teamed up with The Grill at The Dorchester for an exclusive competition. Entrants will have the chance to win a dinner for two at The Grill at The Dorchester when it re-opens! www.dorchestercollection.com