A hidden retreat in the heart of London

Behind the buzz of Oxford Street is a cosy village hub, home to The Grazing Goat, the last word in low-key luxury.

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Oxford Street — London’s busiest shopping stretch — is daunting at the best of times. At Marble Arch, where Marylebone meets Mayfair and Speaker’s Corner is just a stone’s throw from Selfridges department store, Britain’s capital could not be more chaotic.

But a mere minute’s walk north is a relative oasis: Portman Village. And every village needs a blooming marvellous pub.

The Grazing Goat Public House & Hotel might share a postcode with dazzling casinos and the all-night shisha cafes of Edgware Road, however, you could be in the rural outposts of anywhere in the country.

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It is cosy without parallel. Its sister venues, The Orange and the Thomas Cubitt in Belgravia are much busier. This is a comfy retreat in the busiest part of London.

A converted Georgian terrace house occupying all floors, The Grazing Goat might feel snug, but diminutive it is not. Outside there is awning to protect drinkers from January drizzle, but even the rain can’t take away the promise of summer evenings spent outside.

The ground and first floors hold the bar and the dining room respectively. Both spacious and pretty, there is a rustic, alpine feel in both: the walls are made of pine panelling, adorned with both antlers and botanical illustrations.

At the top of the building are eight bedrooms all in keeping with the country house feel. Our room was spacious enough for a king-sized bed as well as a bathroom boasting a stand-alone tub in which you can almost swim.

There are lovely touches like An Apple a Day – linguist Caroline Taggart’s book about the origins of English proverbs; an excellent alternative to the enormous flat screen television.

Back in the dining room, birthday parties and romantic dinners went forth harmoniously: it has the just right balance of noise and intimacy.

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Fortified by delicious English Cosmopolitans (gin, elderflower and raspberry) that are less punchy than their American counterparts we looked at the menu – a plethora of British fare. Helpful staff took the time to suggest dishes from the menu: they really knew the food and each had an easy charm despite the swift service.

We opted for scallops with bacon; followed by cod and asparagus foam and rotisserie pork chop. The helpings were generous and not too overstated in terms of appearance. The emphasis is on substance over style: the flavours were clever without being too showy. A special nod must be given to the sweet potato chips with bacon aioli.

But the best part of the menu was the pudding. A chocolate shortbread with salted caramel and peanut butter stole the show and rendered us immobile for half an hour after dinner.

In the morning there’s a relaxed atmosphere as guests as well as locals tuck into the sort of breakfast that will last until a late lunch. We recommend the scrambled eggs with truffles – genius!

When it comes to hotels in the centre of London – you might instinctively think that the only options are the The Ritz or The Dorchester or Claridge’s. But if you prefer your five-star stays to be boutique and low-key, then The Grazing Goat is for you. There’s something secretive and surreal about looking out at the twinkling lights of the big smoke in close proximity but hearing none of the chaos.

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