The Pilgrm: Review
Hotels near railway stations are usually very grand or very down at heel. Or perhaps a combination of both: once very grand, now very down at heel. Paddington, like Victoria and King’s Cross, is full of cheap hotels and houses that have seen better days divided into flats. Walking around the area today, one can still imagine TS Eliot’s ‘restless nights in one-night cheap hotels’, or the joyless affairs of characters from Patrick Hamilton.
Aiming to be neither grand nor sordid is the Pilgrm. It’s so modern that they’ve dropped an ‘i’ from the name like Grindr or Flickr or – for older readers – Riot Grrrl. We have no idea why. A mild case of iphobia perhaps. It’s located on London Street, a minute’s walk from the tube exit. Well, it should have been one minute, but the entrance to the Pilgrm is very discreet, so we walked past four times before realising where it was. It looks more like a coffee shop than the lobby to a 73-room hotel.
Indeed, it is a coffee shop. The idea being that there’s no reception, as such: one checks in online, like a budget airline. The Pilgrm is the brainchild of Jason Catifeoglou, formerly of the Zetter group, and Andreas Thrasyvoulou, founder of myhotels, so, name aside, they clearly know what they are doing.
For the budget traveller, there are rooms with bunk beds, or you can splash out on one with a double bed from around £120 a night. It’s all very stripped back, with none of the fripperies you get in a smart hotel, but also hopefully none of the damp, noisy plumbing, women of ill-repute, alcoholic writers etc. that you get in other places near Paddington Station.
Just as with the name, the décor could not be more now if it had been ordered from a hipster hotel catalogue. Perhaps there’s a firm based in Dalston that does the interiors in such places: exposed brickwork, random tiled bits, and reclaimed furniture; they’re all here. Still, the refurbished wooden staircase is magnificent, and gives the entrance more than a touch of glamour. The lounge bar is on the first floor. It’s a long narrow room, with the inevitable mismatched chairs and bric-à-brac. There’s a very elaborate looking turntable by the door, which sadly is just for show. Nothing says ‘trendy hotel’ like a great big record player that doesn’t work. Perhaps they blew all the budget on it, as the cocktail chairs are more Luton than Dalston.
No matter: they are comfortable, and gramophone or no gramophone, they were playing music – Blondie – at just the right volume to create a lively atmosphere without impeding conversation. As soon as we arrived, we were given water which the staff topped up religiously. Let it not be said that they don’t take hydration very seriously at the Pilgrm!
They have a short, snappy cocktail list. Each drink has a named creator; for example, the Negroni Classico was ‘created’ by Tony Conigliaro from Bar Termini, and the Dirty Martini (we were disappointed that they didn’t continue the iphobia and call it a Martni) was ‘created’ by Luke Whearty at Operation Dagger in Singapore. It’s as if the Pilgrm is a wedding band covering the greatest hits of other bars rather than inventing their own drinks. Though perhaps that’s not such a bad thing, because the Pilgrm’s eponymous cocktail, a mixture of light rum, verjus and lime sherbert, tasted like neat Rose’s lime cordial.
Much, much nicer was the Two Guns North Side by Rogerio Igarashi from Bar Trench in Japan. Consisting of Japanese whisky, Cocchi Americano, King’s Ginger liqueur and bitters, it was very good indeed, like a cold hot toddy. Perfect for the winter night. All cocktails cost £9.
Our French waitress was extremely helpful and we were tempted to order some snacks and make a night of it. They do bar food such as charcuterie, as well as more substantial dishes like pork belly or lentil dhal. Also something called Le Bacon Butty, served all day for £7 (!). Instead of eating, though, we did a bit of exploring around the wine list, including a good Côtes du Rhône from Domaine Chapoton at £6 for 125ml and a delicious Chilean Cinsault rosé from De Martino also at £6.
The lounge bar really is a very relaxing place to spend a few hours away from the hurly-burly of Paddington Station. In fact with its cheapish rooms, stylish drinks and handy location, we can’t help thinking that the Pilgrm would be a good place for a (completely non-sordid and mutually fulfilling) fling. ‘A flng at the Pilgrm’ as Andreas and Jason might put it.
JOL was invited to review The Pilgrm on a complimentary basis. We retain full editorial control.