Italy. There's something about the language, food and warmth of the people that always draws me back. It's a favourite holiday destination of mine and the reason why an Italian hotel in the heart of London had instant appeal.

The Baglioni Hotel in Kensington is the chain's only British hotel, having established itself across Italy, the south of France and with an outpost earmarked for the Maldives.

This converted Victorian mansion is ideally located, overlooking Kensington Gardens at Hyde Park Gate and just around the corner from bustling Kensington High Street.

The hotel aims to be a second home for guests and this was apparent when we arrived in our deluxe suite to be greeted by a blazing fireplace which could be controlled by remote control. The décor was dramatic and sensual, with soft bedroom lighting beneath ribbons of frilled silk, metallic his 'n' hers sinks, a lavishly deep bath-tub and a spacious shower.

We may have been three floors above a busy road, but the view was of the lush green space of Kensington Gardens and the palace. Kensington Palace is just a short stroll from the hotel and this late 17th century home, the birthplace of Queen Victoria and latterly home to Princess Diana and now the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and family, is the ideal place to while away a few hours.

Some of the palace is open to the public, including the 18th century state rooms. The King's Staircase, depicting a lively 18th century court, provides the wow factor, while the cosy sociable space of the Queen's Bedroom, where Mary II entertained, still prevails.

Major new dress exhibition Diana: Her Fashion Story is saved for last. The exhibition, marking 20 years since the death of 'the people's princess', has just opened and will continue until February 2018. It's obviously proving a big draw for visitors across the globe, with some dates sold out in advance.

What could have been a mausoleum of 80s ruffles and lace numbers is counterbalanced by some of Diana's most chic numbers – among them the teasingly sophisticated black velvet dress she danced with John Travolta in, to the short shift dresses she was photographed in as she transitioned from 'clothes horse' to 'work horse' come the 1990s.

On returning to the hotel, it was time for a drink before dinner at the Baglioni's Brunello Restaurant. Much like the rest of the hotel, it is filled with candles, giant vases and chandeliers and houses an inviting circular bar in the middle. Its menu is predominantly Italian – of course! - and executive chef Alberto Rossetti's menu is full of healthy fare lip-smackingly married with moreish flavours.

I opted for the sea bass fillet au gratin with pistachio, Italian chicory and truffle sauce. It was the first time I had enjoyed sea bass accompanied by a nutty flavour, which was brought out by the earthy richness of the sauce. My mother chose the ricotta cheese and spinach ravioli with maggiorana vegetable ragu.

We both opted for the crème brûlée topped with Sicilian pistachios for dessert – deliciously rich. Of note in the menu is a number of 'anti-ageing' dishes, with chef Rossetti having completed a Kitchen Evolution Master in Fabriano – which means 'art joined with nutrition'. So anyone can leave the Brunello Restaurant feeling pleasantly full and quite possibly looking a few years younger.

After waking up to the pleasantly serene view of green space in London with those iconic red double deckers trundling beneath us, it was time for breakfast. The buffet selection at the hotel offers all your regular continental choices, beautifully presented, with the added bonus of ridiculously good coffee, handmade pastries and smoked salmon. There's also a full range of hot options plus a full English.

Next we decided to delve into this historic village suburb the Baglioni so proudly resides in.

We did a circular walk beginning in Kensington High Street, where you can find the usual high street names as soon as you step off the tube. For those who wish to enjoy a less crowded shopping experience away from the crowds in the West End, it's ideal.

Ignoring the lure of the shops, we turned into the blossom-filled Kensington Square, passing the art deco style Derry and Toms 1930s department store, now home to Kensington Roof Gardens which, while hired out for private events, are open to the public and can be visited free of charge provided you phone ahead.

Pretty Kensington Square is surrounded by townhouses full of grandeur, two of which are original 17th century homes.

A meander through the neighbourhood, past achingly beautiful private gardens can take you to the Leighton House Museum and Art Gallery, the former studio house of the artist Frederic, Lord Leighton. It is the only purpose-built studio house open to the public in the UK. Holland Park, once the grounds of Holland House, is well worth a visit and has a superb set of murals depicting a garden party at the house in the 1870s.

A stroll around Kensington is the best way to derive the character of this 'village', where yummy mummies returning from yoga classes rub shoulders with workmen busy with home renovations in these quiet side streets and pretty mewses.

And once you return back from 'walking the village', the Baglioni is the perfect place to put your feet up.


Baglioni Hotel London has rooms available from £275 per night on a B&B basis, including taxes. For booking and further information please visit or call 0207 368 5700