I once shared a flat with another penniless journalist in Shepherd’s Bush. The best thing to say about the neighbourhood was it had good transport links: it was easy to get out of there. But strange things have been happening in the Bush over the past few years: it’s gone upmarket.
Though it hasn’t completely lost its edge, Shepherd’s Bush is now home to the vast Westfield London shopping centre, built at a cost of £1.6billion and home to almost 400 stores. Nearby, the century-old market has been given a £150million makeover to become a hip street food destination.
Two years ago saw the opening of a luxury four-star hotel, the Dorsett Shepherd’s Bush, in a grand building overlooking the Green. Eyebrows were raised when its owners, the Hong Kong-based Dorsett group, chose W12 for its first landmark London hotel, but there was a clear rationale: easy access from Heathrow, good transport links into Central London and – of course – epic shopping on its doorstep. Chinese tourists apparently love the location.
When I spent a night there to check out the hotel, there was a healthy mix of Chinese, European and British guests. The Bush had never been so cosmopolitan. Getting there was easy: there’s now a direct overground train from my corner of South London.
The building has an interesting history. It started life as a cinema in 1923 and – like many of its kind – was turned into a bingo hall in the 1980s. It closed in 2001 and, with a Grade II listing, remained disused for more than a decade.
Today the historic facade remains, but behind that the guts of the original building have been ripped out to create a dramatic and stylish modern interior with 317 rooms and suites and Chinese-influenced decor.
The rooms are plush, more like five-star quality then four. I was upgraded to a suite with floor-to-ceiling windows, but the standard quality of bedding, toiletries and soft furnishings is all top-notch.
The hotels has two restaurants, the Chinese Shikumen, where you can dine on Xiao Long Bao and stir-friend scallops with asparagus in XO sauce, and Pictures which has a contemporary European menu. At Pictures I feasted on red mullet with capers and raisin puree (pictured below) followed by Irish ox cheeks with oxtail croquette, and passion fruit crème brûlée.
I would have liked to have explored the spa, with its sauna, steam and intriguing menu of treatments including a strawberries and cream body polish. However, a different kind of therapy called. Yep, I went shopping.
How to do it
Rooms at the Dorsett Shepherd’s Bush start at £130 per night.
This article was previously published at 101 Holidays.