Smeg 50s Retro Kettle review: retro vibes in a modern kettle

The Smeg 50s Retro Kettle is a luxurious throwback. Quiet and has plenty of temperature presets for a range of hot drinks, we think it's almost perfect.

A Smeg 50s Retro Kettle with two cups on a bedside table
(Image credit: Smeg)
Homes & Gardens Verdict

This gorgeous luxury kettle is quiet and has plenty of temperature presets for a range of hot drinks, but it has some minor issues keeping it from a perfect score - the price, and some issues with condensation.

Reasons to buy
  • +

    Push-top lid

  • +

    Water level indicator

  • +

    360° swivel base

  • +

    Looks gorgeous

Reasons to avoid
  • -

    Condensation can build up around the switch when filled to MAX capacity

  • -

    Feels plasticky

  • -

    Expensive for a kettle

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Kettles aren't exactly the highest tech appliance, but as artisan teas grow in popularity, it's more and more handy to have one on standby. However, they're usually utilitarian, ugly appliances, not ones you want to have out on your countertop.

The Smeg 50s Retro Kettle aims to solve this with a kettle that looks as good as it boils water.  Sure, it does the basics, but with 6 temperature presets, a soft close lid, to fill, low noise levels and a drip-free spout, it's as luxury a kettle as you're likely to find. 

I put it to the test over a few months, using it throughout the day to make a selection of hot drinks to fuel my cravings. It has even endured a clean and a descale for maintenance purposes. The appliance was the only kettle in our household so it was certainly challenged by my family-of-three to meet our demands. After all this testing, I found one of the best kettles you can buy.

Smeg 50s Retro Kettle

Ariel view of the smeg retro kettle

(Image credit: Future / Jennifer Oksien)

Smeg 50s Retro Kettle specifications

A Smeg 50s Retro Kettle on a white background

(Image credit: Smeg)
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Model number:KLF03BLMUS / KLF04BLUK
Power:3000 W
Max capacity:1.7lt / 7 cups
Features:Water level indicator, soft opening lid, safety auto shut off, integrated cord, anti slip feet, 360° swivel base
Size:248 x 226 x 171 mm
Temperature settings120°F; 140° F; 160° F; 175°F; 190°F; 212°F

Smeg 50s Retro Kettle: First impressions

The Smeg 50s Retro Kettle is another entry into Smeg's classic retro range. There's an entire Smeg 50s Retro range to browse through; from refrigerators to coffee makers, all available in eight pastel hues. black, cream, pastel blue, pastel green, pink, red, stainless steel and white. You can even get it in a (very expensive) Dolce & Gabbana Siclilian theme

The kettle has a push top lid with a soft opening to make for an easy fill; a separate 360 swivel base so it can slot onto the base from any position and non-slip feet so it'll stay put when you need it to.

It's powered by 3000 watts for fast boiling whilst the 1.7ltr/7 cup capacity has a built-in, removable stainless steel filter at the spout to filter out natural limescale. 

It has 6 variable-temperature settings from 120°F to 212°F, so you can have more gentle temperatures for teas like matcha as well as fully boiling water for pour-over coffee.

Smeg 50s Retro Kettle: Setting up

The Smeg 50s Retro Kettle arrived in a cardboard delivery box. It used recyclable packaging throughout, which is always nice to see.

Before first use I needed to give the Smeg 50s Retro Kettle a quick wipe down to remove any manufacturing or packaging elements. You also need to boil a full jug of water at least three times before first use, so it's best to not try set up the kettle when you actually need or want a hot drink.

setting up the smeg retro 50s kettle

(Image credit: Future / Jennifer Oksien)

Test 1 - temperature consistency

To test, I took a reading of the water temperature after it had boiled. This measured 205.7F/96.5C when the water was poured into a mug. It's a few degrees off boiling, but bear in mind that the water would have cooled as it left the jug and filled the cold mug. It's a good result - this is plenty hot enough for most day-to-day uses.

testing the water temperaure with the smeg retro 50s kettle

(Image credit: Future / Jennifer Oksien)

Test 2 - Speed

The next little test I tried was to time how long it took to boil a full, 1.7ltr/7 cup jug and the minimum 0.5ltr/2cup. I recorded 3 minutes 12 seconds to boil a full kettle, and 1 minute 6 seconds to boil the minimum amount of water. This is fairly good, but it could be a little faster, particularly when boiling the minimum amount. 

I liked that it was quick to boil the water. When I poured the water there weren't any drips, but I noticed that some condensation formed around the lid lip above the spout and the switch when it was filled up to the max with water.

Test 3 - Noise

looking inside the smeg retro 50s kettle

(Image credit: Future / Jennifer Oksien)

My noise reader bounced around between 57dB to 65dB as the kettle boiled. This is equivalent to a quiet street or normal conversation, so it's not too loud, especially compared to other kettles

Smeg 50s Retro Kettle: Cleaning

Cleaning this kettle is really easy. To keep the outside clean and free of fingerprints, all you need to do is wipe it down with a damp cloth every so often. I live in a hard water area, so I also tested how easy it is to descale this toaster. It was really easy. All I needed to do was Half fill the kettle with water and boil it, then wait 10 minutes for it to cool down a little. I then added the descaler solution, left it for 6 - 8 minutes with the lid open, and then poured the solution away before rinsing and boiling the kettle. It was straightforward and completely effective. 

Should you buy it?

If you need to replace a kettle that's just packed up on you, or you fancy a more stylish model, I think that the Smeg 50s Retro Kettle is an excellent choice. 

The build quality, design and performance is faultless. I could see how much water I had in the jug at all times, which is always helpful, but perhaps the most useful feature was the 360 swivel base. It meant that I could lift it with my left or right hand, which sounds like a small thing but many kettles are designed for right-handers.

The only issues are the condensation build-up when it's full, and that it feels a little plasticky. Both of these issues are compounded when you consider that this kettle is nearly $200 - that's a lot to spend for a decent cup of tea when other models tend to cost $50-70. 

Jennifer Oksien

Jennifer (Jen) is our resident Large Appliance Editor who looks after the content you see about appliances (big and small). She reviews whatever appliance she can easily fit through the front door, which is mainly vacuum cleaners; corded, cordless and robotic. As well as writing for Homes&Gardens, she has written for John Lewis & Partners, Ideal Home, Real Homes, Gardeningetc and Livingetc. When she is not bringing the best in-class products to your attention, Jennifer can be found going for walks in the Somerset countryside with her husband and daughter or enjoying some tea and cake with a magazine when she has a quiet moment.