The Principal London is preparing to open next month; a new Bloomsbury hotel occupying a striking fin-de-siècle building overlooking Russell Square, the recent recipient of an extensive restoration project. Originally designed in 1898 by Charles Fitzroy Doll, the building is clad in Royal Doulton thé-au-lait terracotta, and is home to a dining room on which that of a certain RMS Titanic was reportedly modelled. Only natural, then, that it will now be home to a seafood-led restaurant by the name of Neptune, though one hopes it will survive not just its maiden service, but many more to boot.
Nautical puns aside, the food and beverage offering at The Principal is set to be an ambitious, three-pronged undertaking, so here’s all there is to know ahead of the April launch:
The new restaurant from Margaret Crow and Brett Redman (of beloved Borough haunt Elliots, and recently-closed Hackney gastropub The Richmond) will offer all-day dining for up to 120 guests, in a dining room built around a central oyster bar which will champion the oysters and shellfish of small British producers. The broader à la carte menu, while largely seafood-focused, will also feature the wood-fired cooking for which Redman is known, as well as a “new style of British caviar service” that swaps blinis for waffles and jersey cream. In a style that seems appropriate to the surroundings, extravagant “towering” seafood platters will be on offer, while a creative approach to flavours and ingredients, that the pair formerly told Eater London would be “heavily influenced by the sun-drenched lands of Australia and California,” promises other dishes like hardshell clams, dill granita and buttermilk, or scallop carpaccio, ajo blanco, nori and kombu oil.
The hotel’s cocktail bar gets its name from the hotel’s architect, Charles Fitzroy Doll, and will be a luxurious affair “decorated in sumptuous fabrics [and] dark wood panelling”, and including original listed features of the building including a large fire place and decorative stained-glass windows. The bar will be run by Sean Fennelly — formerly of the renowned Milk & Honey — who has apparently created a list of signature cocktails for the venue, though more specific details have yet to be made available.
Burr & Co
The hotel will also be home to Burr & Co, a “coffeehouse and bar”, which will be open daily from 7am serving coffee from Caravan, fresh pastries, and breakfast to hotel guests and members of the public alike. An extended all-day menu will feature a range of more casual cafe-type fare in contrast to Neptune’s offering, including soups, salads and sandwiches available to dine in and take away.
There’s more to come
Following the initial launch, The Principal London aims to open additional venues through the hotel, including the original ballroom, and the Palm Court, which will form the “social hub” of the hotel, and where daytime service of afternoon tea by executive chef Roger Olsson (formerly of The Dorchester hotel) will give way into evening drinks service by way of a gin trolley, and a selection of Champagnes from small, lesser-known producers.
The bottom line
The Principal London will open its doors on Monday 16 April, at 1-8 Russell Square, WC1B 5BE, with 334 rooms and suites available. Further details about the hotel, as well as reservations for the restaurant and for rooms can be made via their website.