london Travel Guide
There’s something about the Intercontinental Park Lane that makes a tiny part of us die inside with every visit. Yes, they’ve been renovating the rooms to de-drab them, and yes, the views can be awesome, but it always feels so… sterile.
Having said that, we’ve always given props to the spa for having good therapists and decently priced treatments, considering its surroundings.
And this summer, the treatments have got even more appealing, with the introduction of Ayurvedic-inspired Sundãri treatments.
There are lots available – see the menu here – but they’ve kicked the program off with special offers on two treatments: a “Facial, Massage and Floatation Bed Offer” (a 30 minute massage, 30 minute facial and 20 minutes lying on a floatation bed) for £65 instead of £112.50; and the signature Sama treatment for £90 instead of £135. This takes 90 minutes and packs in loads of stuff: a feet-in-hot-towels thing; a “cleansing back ritual”; an Ayurvedic massage; a hand and food massage to relieve “stress and negativity”; facial cleanse and exfoliation; a Marma massage; and a scalp massage.
Hotel Openings / Sneak Peeks / Hotel News / Hoxton Hotels / London Hotels / Affordable Hotels / → All Tags
Having opened reservations earlier this summer, the Hoxton Holborn is now just a month away from opening, with the official date being September 25. Not only did we hear that directly from the hotel, we also had a chance to step inside and see for ourselves how the east London favorite travels to a midtown environment.
Above a snap from inside a Cosy Room, the third category out of four. While the 174 rooms differ in size (Shoebox, Snug, Cosy, Roomy), all share the same design and features, like the wood-and-leather headboard you see here.
If it aint broke, of course, there’s no need to fix it – unless the unbroken thing we’re talking about is afternoon tea, and the ‘fix’ is a gin injection.
Dukes St James in London is bringing together these two great British institutions with its G&Tea: basically afternoon tea, except with a tea-infused G&T instead of the hot stuff.
The gin in question is Beefeater infused with black tea leaves – either Earl Grey or Black Vanilla. It’s served Prohibition-style in a china teacup, either cold with ice and tonic, or as a hot punch on cold days like this week. Could it get more magnificent? Yes – you also get your normal food spread of finger sandwiches, scones and pastries. It costs £35, which is pretty great value for London, considering the alcohol.
Hotel Heaven / Luxury Hotels / London Hotels / Hotel Staff / Customer Service / Maybourne Hotels / Hotel Bars / Hotel Cocktails / → All Tags
Claridge's Juleps (£18 each)
There’s been a lot to depress us about the London hotel scene recently. Homophobes and boycotts. $127 drinks. Finding out that some of our favorite hotels have minimum spend policies. So when a luxury hotel in London steps up to the plate in terms of superb customer service, and reinforces our every hope about them, instead of dashing said hope into little pieces and then grinding it into the floor with a steel-capped heel, we should all rejoice. Put your hands together then, ladies and gents, for Claridge's.
Last Thursday, I went for drinks at Claridge’s with a friend. Drinks at Claridge’s has always seemed a little intimidating and out of budget for both of us, despite my having stayed there once, and both of us having watched the BBC documentary about Claridge’s more times than is good for us. It’s not your average after-work bar; it’s Claridge’s. Not only that, but there are two bars at Claridge’s: the normal one, and the tiny, sexy, marble-clad, gold-leafed, Lalique-glassed Fumoir that seats only 36, bans photos, and has a no reservations policy. That was the one we wanted.
I arrived first, and approached the Fumoir gingerly. Of course we have room, madam, said a man in a plum-colored velvet dinner jacket. Which table would you prefer? I picked the best table. He allowed me to do so. Score one to Claridge’s.
Flowers, fruits, and other sweets we see served a lot with hotel cocktails, but whither the options for those that prefer their treats to be savory?
The Milestone Hotel London seems to have wondered the same, with their “Shock Me” beer cocktail bringing some balance this month. The cocktail mixes 75ml of Brown Ale (Bishop Fingers), 50ml bourbon, 25ml of Southern Comfort, and one teaspoon of maple syrup. Stirring for 10 seconds with ice, it’s served in an Old Fashion glass over ice and finished with a slice of crispy maple-cured bacon. The “Shock Me” costs £15 ($25 and is served in Stables Bar or elsewhere in the public spaces.
The updates on The Beaumont, Corbin and King’s first hotel in London’s Mayfair, keep rolling in: earlier this summer we saw sculpture “ROOM” by Antony Gormley for the first time and found a series of interior renderings on the refreshed website.
Today, we have live online reservations from October 9 with an opening date that could be even earlier, details of room categories and prices, and actual images. Above is a Premier Room, though we were told this might not be the complete finished product as decoration (art, furniture, fine-tuning) is still in progress.
It gives us a pretty good idea of what to expect nonetheless, which in the Premier Room is 35 sq m (377 sq ft) of space with views over Mayfair through windows that actually open, something we love. Bathrooms are described as “mosaic marble” with underfloor heating and in some cases, bathtubs. Toiletries are by D R Harris. All rooms have complimentary WiFi and access to a car service for local travel.
Google Glass Hotels / Google Glass / Montcalm Hotels / London Hotels / Hotel Technology / → All Tags
But the Montcalm London Marble Arch is the first hotel we’ve heard of to have its staff using Google Glass as part of the concierge service.
The minimum spend warning at the Langham
When we recounted the horrifying story of the guest who was charged $127 for three small bottles of water at the Wellesley Hotel last week, we said that was the first we’d heard of any hotel doing this, and that it was a first in London.
Sorry guys, on so many levels. Because it turns out we were wrong.
An article in the Times this weekend about minimum spends in London namechecked the Dorchester, the Ritz, the Savoy, and – gasp – perennial HC fave the Langham as all having minimum spend policies in place, at least some of the time. Here’s the rundown on each:
While the former Port of London Authority building at Tower Hill is being reimagined as 10 Trinity Square, directly across the river the St. Olave’s Grammar School at Tower Bridge might be a few steps further on its way to becoming The Lalit Hotel London.
A tipster pointed us to the project having picked up some steam, after being announced back in 2012 as the first European venture of the Indian hotel group, with a late 2014 opening no less. Grade-II listed, the school dates back to the late 1800s and was derelict for over a decade before conversion work began.
The building is now almost fully obscured by scaffolding (more shots below), with the concrete core you see peeking out behind and the ochre brick on the right both part of the One Tower Bridge development.
Hotel Openings / Hotel News / London Hotels / Hotel Hype / Montcalm Hotels / Virgin Hotels / Michael Achenbaum / Gansevoort Hotels / Nobu Hotels / Art'Otel Hotels / Hotel Woes / Hotel Construction / → All Tags
We’ve been heading east so often recently to scope out the latest London hotels news that we thought it was time to do a quick roundup of what we have on our radar in the Shoreditch (and Shoreditch-adjacent) area. Here are five new hotels that are likely to open their doors in the next few years, though some we’d be much more inclined to put our money on than others.
1. M by Montcalm Shoreditch: is it happening? Looking at the construction we saw just weeks ago, we’d say yes, but timing we think will be late spring to summer next year. From a brand perspective, who knows at this point, whether Montcalm will stick or Virgin or someone else swoops in and picks it up, we’ll have to find out. Location is just north of Old Street roundabout.
When we had our first drink at Gŏng at Shangri-La at the Shard a few weeks ago, we spied a number of cranes across the river working on neighboring hotel projects 10 Trinity Square and citizenM Tower Hill, and made a mental note to have a closer look on the ground.
So we did this past weekend, with above the imposing façade of the former Port of London Authority, due to become mixed-use complex 10 Trinity Square, with 120-room hotel, restaurant, club, spa, and 41 residences. The glass building you see poking out on the left is the car-melting Walkie-Talkie tower on Fenchurch Street.
When you hear the name Motel One, what do you think of? A city-center, budget-chic hotel high on style and low on cost along the lines of citizenM, Qbic, and The Z Hotels? Yeah, neither do we, but that is what the originally German brand is hoping to bring to the British capital with its first English hotel, opening at the end of the year.
It reminds us a little of CityInn, which had two great hotels in the city that were rebranded as “The Mint” as a result of ‘misconception’ in the market about what the brand stood for, before becoming DoubleTree by Hilton. We’ll have to see how the name fares, but construction on the 258-room hotel is coming along nicely on Minories, directly opposite the Indigo at Tower Hill.