United Kingdom Travel Guide

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A New London Hotel With an Odd Name: Motel One

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  Site Where: 24-26 Minories, London, United Kingdom, EC3N 1BQ
July 29, 2014 at 9:00 AM | by | Comments (0)

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.

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Welcome To The Wellesley London, Where Three Bottles of Water Cost $127

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  Site Where: 11 Knightsbridge, London, United Kingdom, SW1X 7LY
July 29, 2014 at 8:30 AM | by | Comments (3)

UPDATE 11.15am: Response from hotel at the bottom of the post. Also, there were two clients with Mr Heaton, though the bill is as described, and the minimum spend refers only to the terrace of the Crystal Bar, not the bar itself. The hotel also says it has apologised to Mr Heaton (presumably not via Twitter).

How much would you pay for a small bottle of water at a five star hotel? $5? (That’d be our personal limit.) $10? (Maybe if we were really thirsty.) Nothing, because water should be from the tap and free? (You’re clearly American, welcome to Europe.)

How about $127? Yes, one hundred and twenty seven dollars. For three miserable bottles of sparkling water. Sadly, this is not a joke.

Ten days ago, at about 4pm, businessman Edward Heaton sat down at the outside terrace of the Crystal Bar at the Wellesley Hotel in London. He was meeting two clients, and it was the middle of the heatwave. Between the three of them, they ordered three small bottles of sparkling water. He says there was no menu, they just ordered direct from the server.

Meeting finished, they requested the bill. £75 ($127) for those three small bottles of water.

Was the water laced with crushed diamonds? No, it was San Pellegrino. Was it served in a golden goblet? Can't be sure, but presumably it was in a glass made of glass.

Here’s the breakdown. £16.50 ($28) for the water (already obscene). £8.33 ($14) for the service charge (let’s hope they threw in a lot of bar snacks). And £50.17 ($85) for “1x minimum spend”.

Minimum spend? Ah yes. According to the Wellesley, anyone who sits down at the terrace of the bar - though not the bar itself - after 4pm must meet a minimum spend of £25 per head. Have you ever heard of that? We haven’t, and we’re pretty partial to our £6 cups of London hotel tea. The only hotel bar in the world that we’ve ever encountered a minimum spend at is £10 at the Montage Beverly Hills ($50 minimum spend for world class cocktails). It simply does not happen in London.

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Old Street Magistrates Court Becomes New London Hotel

Where: Old Street, London, United Kingdom
July 28, 2014 at 9:25 AM | by | Comments (0)

The renderings for London’s former Bow Street Magistrates Court had us seriously excited for its rebirth as a 99-room hotel when we discovered them earlier this year, and now it looks like there is a similar project in progress further east.

The Old Street Magistrates Court, a five-minute walk east of Old Street roundabout and next to Hoxton Square, will become a “5-star boutique hotel styled to fit with the new modern art and media image”. We’re not exactly sure what that means, but we guess the target market is the Shoreditch artsy media set. There will be 128 rooms between the Edwardian structure and a new-built block behind; what that looks like you can see below.

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Demolition Is Done for Achenbaum's New London Hotel

Where: 45 Curtain Road, London, United Kingdom
July 24, 2014 at 9:00 AM | by | Comments (0)

Six months after we first cycled past Michael Achenbaum’s future London hotel, phase one of the project seems to be complete: razing the drab 3-story office building that stood between the hotelier and the British version of his rooftop pool parties.

Nothing but a small pile of rubble remains on Curtain Road, a couple of blocks away from Ace Shoreditch (a few years from now, you’ll be able to wave from one rooftop to another).

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A New Riverside London Hotel Might Be Coming to St. Paul's

Where: Queenhithe, London, United Kingdom
July 23, 2014 at 9:00 AM | by | Comments (0)

Believe it or not, but this sad-looking vacant block of red brick has uninterrupted, million-dollar views of London’s Tate Modern museum, with that little bit of murky water actually being the river Thames. Why are we showing you this? Because a few years from now this might turn into a glassy new mixed-use complex, centered around a new 224-room hotel a few blocks away from St. Paul’s Cathedral.

Referred to at the moment as the Queensbridge House Hotel & Apartments, the 7-story building would replace three existing office blocks, which sit tightly between the Thames and the busy street right behind, as well as above it – more pictures to get a sense of how that works below.

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The Hilton London Bankside Will Showcase New Brand Design, Opening Next Year

Where: Great Suffolk Street, London, United Kingdom
July 22, 2014 at 9:55 AM | by | Comments (0)

Late last year we asked the question whether the Hilton London Bankside was being revived, with construction having picked up after several years of silence to the point where the multi-story hole in the ground had been filled up.

The revival question we can now answer with a resounding yes, with the hotel recently having “topped out”, i.e. reached its highest point. It also sounds like it will open mid next year, with the rather bland interior renderings we looked at previously now updated on the architect’s website to reflect a much warmer, interesting design which apparently follows “Hilton’s newly launched brand standards”. Above one of the 292 rooms, further below lobby, restaurant and bar.

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Andaz Liverpool Street's Room With A View Will Give You An Arty Andazm

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  Site Where: 40 Liverpool Street, London, United Kingdom, EC2M 7QN
July 22, 2014 at 8:30 AM | by | Comments (0)

One of the reasons we’ve always liked London’s Andaz Liverpool Street is that, despite it being a largely business hotel in the City of London, it’s always pushed the envelope with art projects, fashion things, Readers in Residence and so on. Another reason we’ve always liked Andaz Liverpool street is that, despite its business-ness, it’s always given a shout out to its East London roots.

So now we love it even more with the launch of Room With A View: a year-long series of “East London street art rooms” – basically, four rooms hand-painted by East London street artists.

The project starts with The Pearly Room by Chris Price: a black and white riot of pearly kings and queens amongst the spires of Shoreditch.

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The Club Hotel Jersey Launches A 'Sunshine Butler' For Fashionably Pale Brits

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  Site Where: Green St, St Helier, Jersey, United Kingdom, JE2 4UH
July 21, 2014 at 3:10 PM | by | Comments (0)


The Sunshine Butler's grounds

In America, they have tanning butlers. In the UK, one is fashionably pale, so one has a “sunshine butler”. Or at least, one does when there’s enough sun to merit wearing sunscreen.

Yes, hot on the heels of the biggest heatwave ever (maybe), The Club Hotel & Spa in St Helier, Jersey, has recruited a Sunshine Butler to strut the terraces of the hotel, polishing sunglasses, administering suncream of various strengths, misting one’s face and feet with mineral water, and proffering iced towels and chilled watermelon.

That leaves guests to wallow on their sunloungers by the Mediterranean-style Pool Terrace, take a dip (once adequately creamed) in the pool, or enjoy that cocktail without being irritated by one’s hot and sweaty feet. What more could one need?

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This is the M by Montcalm London Shoreditch, But Could It Become a Virgin?

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  Site Where: 151-157 City Road, London, United Kingdom, EC1V 1JH
July 21, 2014 at 9:30 AM | by | Comments (0)

Given how little information we could parse together about the two new Montcalm Hotels potentially opening in London, we headed into town to see what we could find in person. Double-checking addresses, we struck one of our list before we even left the house, with the hotel on Finsbury Square no longer featured on the website.

What we found in Shoreditch was a little more encouraging in terms of actual construction going on, with the hotel at or very near its highest point. Just north of Old Street Station, the pointy building is very nearly without horizontal lines, sitting next to a fancy apartment complex (on the left) also in progress.

A tipster whispers in our ear that despite the ongoing construction under the Montcalm banner, a number of other groups, including Virgin Hotels, are interested in acquiring the property. While we can’t verify that bit of delicious hotel gossip, we’re all over it – especially since Montcalm doesn’t seem quite sure of anything when it comes to the hotel.

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The Ace Hotel in London Finally Opens Their Rooftop Bar and Terrace

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  Site Where: 100 Shoreditch High Street, London, United Kingdom, E1 6JQ
July 18, 2014 at 9:38 AM | by | Comments (0)

Just as London was sweltering through one of the stickiest days of the summer so far, did Ace Shoreditch open its rooftop bar and terrace last night, crowning its nearly year-old European venture on the hotel’s 7th floor together with a number of meeting spaces.

Running along virtually the length of the building, the terrace offers views ranging from the City (you can see the famous Gherkin in the above shot) to St. Paul’s, the Barbican, Centre Point at Tottenham Court Road, and the far north.

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Belmond Picks Up The Cadogan Hotel in London

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  Site Where: 75 Sloane Street, London, United Kingdom, SW1X 9SG
July 17, 2014 at 6:44 PM | by | Comments (0)

Only a few months in as a newly branded hotel company, Belmond Hotels, formerly Orient-Express Hotels, has snapped up a prime property in London. Well, it will be prime once the renovations are over.

Belmond has signed a management agreement with Cadogan Estates Limited to operate The Cadogan, an intimate, 64-room hotel on Sloane Street in the Chelsea nabe. Alas, guests won't be able to stay at the newest Belmond, and the only one in London, right away.

The Cadogan, originally built in 1887, is closing at the end of this month to undergo an astonishing $48 million renovation process that will completely redo the public areas and maximize the space individual guest rooms. Therefore the room count will actually drop down to 54 rooms. A gourmet dining experience" will also be installed, opening out onto Sloane Street and with views of Cadogan Place gardens. GA Design International and their London team will do the interior design work.

When the property reopens in Summer 2016 (long time away!), it will go by the name of Belmond Cadogan.

Currently, The Cadogan is advertising rooms at £209 a night. We even found a room next week on July 24, the hotel's last week open for just £190 a night. Expect those rates to double when Belmond moves in, darling.

[Photo: The Cadogan/Facebook]

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First Peek at the Hoxton Holborn, a London Hotel Under $150 a Night

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  Site Where: 199-206 High Holborn, London, United Kingdom, WC1V 7BD
July 14, 2014 at 9:07 AM | by | Comments (0)

It looks like Holborn will have to settle for one out of two when it comes to new hotels this year: citizenM might have been pushed back to 2015, but The Hoxton Holborn has just opened up reservations from mid-October, still promising a “late summer” arrival for the group’s second London hotel.

A live reservation system comes with a first few renderings of the public spaces (above the suitably vintage-meets-industrial lobby) and a little more information about the hotel’s 174 rooms. Good news first? While small (about 130 sq ft), we can see entry-level “Shoebox” rooms from £79 ($135) – that’s under $150 dollars a night for a central, stylish London hotel. Hurrah!

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