The Times

The Times

Caroline Main – former Africa explorer, Mayfair nightclub owner, DJ and London property wheeler dealer, whose contacts book must look like a telephone directory, is showing me round her latest venture, Main House, a three-bedroomed hotel in a grand Victorian building just off Portobello Road.

“Whats that?” I ask, pointing to an enormous fur rug in the large first floor room. “Its a cow” she says matter-of-factly, before swishing onwards upstairs, while telling me about the times when Prince, Michael Jackson and Tara Palmer-Tomkinson visited her old club.

Main house is stylish, Caroline chose its quirky selection of antiques from Portobello Road and secondhand antique auctions. But, just as importantly, its cheap: only £45 per person a night: great value when run-of-the-mill budget hotel chains in the capital are often this pricey.

And of course there’s Caroline, who runs the day-to-day business, her first hotel, with infectious enthusiasm. “I just loved doing the rooms” she says, pointing out a corduroy armchair, a tin box acting as a bedside table, and a lovely mahogany wardrobe.

On the walls are old prints of of horses (the ones in my room were entitled “Great British Stud”), watercolours of elegant 1930’s women (“thats my grandmother, and she painted it”) and lots of big, heavy looking gilded mirrors.

Combined with minimalist cream coloured bathrooms and clever spot-lighting, its all very Portobello Road – with that slightly down-at-heel but really-rather-smart look that Notting Hill-ites strive for.

But how can it be so cheap? “What I want is to have nice, friendly people staying here” says Caroline, explaining that she can usually tell who is “nice” over the phone. “Its not about money”.

Already LA film producers, French novelists, Japanese pop stars and Russian princesses have stayed.

The Main house is bang in the middle of the action