It’s not easy to find an authentic aperitivo hour (that’s Italian happy hour for you and me) experience in London. So when I got the chance to experience one of Italy’s most popular exports the traditional Italian way at Hotel Xenia, I wasn’t going to pass on the chance.
It got better as I walked into the hotel lobby and I immediately noticed the contemporary Italian-inspired interiors.
I was already impressed by the handsome Georgian townhouse exterior when I arrived on my Monday evening visit. It got better as I walked into the hotel lobby and I immediately noticed the contemporary Italian-inspired interiors. I’m talking gleaming marble floors, comfy-looking leather armchairs, large gallery windows and contemporary interior furnishings such as artsy ornaments and plants. The stylish interiors are what I would expect in the well-heeled neighbourhood of Kensington and I still got that sense of excitement of being in somewhere fancy.
I was greeted by a friendly receptionist and who led to the equally stylish Evoluzione – the hotel’s onsite Italian restaurant. I always thought that happy hours are best al fresco so I was glad to see that the dining area included an open-air terrace large enough to hold an intimate group. I only wish that the terrace was in a more secluded area of the hotel away from the sound of whizzing cars of Brompton Road.
While Aperol Spritz may hog the limelight, it’s not the only libation on offer.
I’m sure an Aperol Spritz needs no introduction, and I couldn’t fault it here: refreshingly sweet and crisp as it should be. While Aperol Spritz may hog the limelight, it’s not the only libation on offer. If the bittersweet orange flavours of Aperol isn’t your thing, a Negroni or perhaps a Campari G&T is also available.
Nibbles and food is provided for free when you’re drinking in Italy
Unbeknown to me, I wondered how the Italians do Happy Hour. As I would soon learn, nibbles and food is provided for free when you’re drinking in Italy, and staying true to Italian traditions, Hotel Xenia offers a buffet style assortment of Italian appetising favourites with your drinks. We’re not talking about a full-blown buffet with an array of hot- food, but rather, all the parmesan cheese you could want and as much bread, pickles and olives as you want. I wondered why this isn’t common in the UK.
For a bit more, there is the option of ordering something a little more substantial from the Xenia kitchen. An assortment of bite-sized portions of sustenance such as pillowy soft gnocchi smothered in pesto and tomato salsa on a bed of crunchy bruschetta, beautifully presented on a narrow wooden board. But I’d advise you, while it perfectly complements your Aperol concoction. It won’t satiate any appetites as big as mine. Nevertheless, I do appreciate the extra choices here.
As I took a moment to soak up the relaxed ambience of the hotel terrace, ably helped by the sound of jazz gently playing in the background, it was plain to me how ideal Hotel Xenia aperitivo time would be for business meetings, as it is suitable for a casual catch-up with a friend. And it can only get better when the sun’s out on a warm summer’s day and the terrace is open. Mondays is very quiet so avoid visiting then if you want a bit more buzz around you. I’d expect it to be busier on weekends.
True to the hotel name, (Xenia means hospitality in ancient Greek btw), the service was excellent. I felt well-looked after and the level of service was impeccable, befitting the hotel’s name.
It’s true, no-one does happy hour quite like the Italians, and thanks to Hotel Xenia, us lucky Londoner’s don’t have to fly all the way to Italy to experience the real deal.
✨ DECOR & AMBIENCE: 4.0/5
🤵🏻 SERVICE: 4.0/5
🌟 OVERALL: 4.0/5
🍴 Type/Cuisine: Italian
📍 Location: 160 Cromwell Road, SW5 0TL
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🌏 Website: http://www.hotelxenia.co.uk/dining/aperitivo-terrace