United Kingdom Travel Guide
Some terrible news out of London just as the weekend was starting a few days ago: around 11.40pm on Friday night, a gas explosion occurred in the basement of the Hyatt Regency London – The Churchill, injuring twelve hotel employees.
All guests were evacuated and accommodated at nearby hotels. Various news outlets, including the BBC, are referring to a few people being hospitalized, with the total number of guests evacuated at around 500. No guests were injured, according to a Hyatt spokesperson.
While The Telegraph opens with the blast having caused “part of the building to collapse”, the main structure of the building is intact. The London Fire Brigade, which responded to the incident, believes it due to a suspected gas leak, resulting in “extensive damage to the basement and the ground floor”.
We hope the injured will recover soon. We’ll keep you posted if there is a longer-term impact on the Hyatt, but leave you for now with the official statement from the hotel’s website:
The best tea in London?
It’s a question of such monumental proportions that it will ruin your trip to London if you get it wrong. Which London hotel does the best afternoon tea?
The easy answer used to be to consult the Tea Guild’s anonymous reviews – but the guild has rebranded now (as the UK Tea and Infusions Association) and as part of the revamp, has ditched its reviews. Big mistake. Huge.
London Hotels Insight is equally outraged, so they have created their own list. How? By calculating the “excellent” and “very good” ratings for tea on TripAdvisor. Doing it this way, they have come out with some surprising results. Their list reads:
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While we’ve struggled on the holiday cheer front so far, a few minutes in the lobby of the hotel on Brook Street may have managed to help even us get into that festive feeling. The 8-metre tall tree is the centerpiece of the decoration throughout the lobby and public spaces, which, together with candles here and there and soft lighting, is hard to resist for even the most cynical of spirits.
Creating a new hotel in a listed building in a centuries-old setting like Bath isn’t an easy task. Throw in the addition of a new wing and direct access to the original Roman thermal springs, and you’re looking at one thing: a delayed opening.
The Gainsborough Bath Spa, which we first talked about just over three years ago, was meant to open earlier this year, but we now understand it will arrive in “spring 2015”. While we wait, there are some beautiful renderings on the hotel website to explore, starting with the above of “Spa Village Bath”, where you will start your visit “with a circuit that includes dipping in three natural thermal pools of varying temperatures, traditional and infrared saunas, steam room, an ice chamber and elegant relaxation areas”. It does look rather spectacular, doesn’t it?
It was only a matter of time before British boutique chain Hotel du Vin would make its way to the capital, adding to its 15 existing hotels in secondary cities from Bristol to Birmingham and Winchester to Edinburgh. Now it has, but rather than a central London hotel, it has acquired Cannizaro House in Wimbledon, a country house just off of Wimbledon Common with a rather interesting history.
Cannizaro House has 46 rooms and suites, which as part of the transition to becoming Hotel du Vin will see a Ł1 million refurbishment (above an image of the Sophia Johnstone Suite, one of four suites the hotel has). While not mentioned outright, part of the investment will go to the restaurant, so it wouldn’t surprise us if a Bistro du Vin will appear as well.
The hotel will join the group next year, but isn’t featured yet on the du Vin website. We’d hazard a guess that they will aim to complete everything before the All England Lawn Tennis Club Championships, better known as just “Wimbledon”, between June 29 and July 12, 2015. Rates for a Double Room start around Ł200 ($300) in December, but expect those to spike during the championship.
[Photos: Cannizaro House]
You know the feeling. You’re checking into a hotel, maybe a little late. You get into the elevator a little wary. You emerge onto your floor, hoping that the room won’t be directly opposite the elevator door, or that it won’t be overlooking a rubbish dump, that it won’t be a disabled room if you don’t need it – hey, you might even be hoping for a particular layout or color scheme, we won’t judge.
Well, UK chain Thistle Hotels wants to quell your anxiety with its new “Choose Your Own Room” service, being trialed at its London Euston property. They reckon that 48% of British hotel guests have asked to change rooms before (this being Britain, we reckon that means at least another 48% have wanted to ask but felt too impolite to do so), and 40% feel some kind of anxiety about getting saddled with a dud pre check-in.
With Choose Your Own Room, you can, unsurprisingly, choose your own room, with 360-degree virtual tours of available rooms, so you can pick the one you want. According to the Telegraph, who gave it a whirl:
After booking a room at the Thistle Euston, guests are sent an email granting online access to the hotel floor plan. On a Wednesday night, I was given the option of picking between five different rooms available over two floors in my price category. There were also photos for each room, including a 360-degree interactive “tour”.
The photos included views and different color schemes, in order to pick the exact one you want. Which is almost more anxiety-inducing, in a way – what if you pick the wrong one?
This is not the first time a hotel has done this (see The Grand Hyatt in Cairo) but it is the first hotel in London to do so. Also, given the boycott of the Dorchester Collection that happened this summer because its owner, the homophobic Sultan of Brunei decided to enact Sharia Law in his country but not at his hotels, pulling alcohol and pork was kind of a ballsy move.
However, a spokesperson for the hotel, which is part of the Bespoke Hotels collection, told the Huffington Post UK that same-sex couples will be allowed as guests. Right now, it's just alcohol that is no longer being sold but guests can bring their own alcohol. Pork products will stopped being offered after Christmas.
As of today, the hotel's website doesn't make it overtly clear that the hotel has stopped selling alcohol but they have changed the name of the GB Grill and Bar to just GB Grill. Rooms for this weekend are sold-out but next week rates are just 164 GBP a night.
[Photo: Bermondsey Square Hotel/Facebook ]
“Downton Abbey” and “sexy” are two things we’d not usually rub together, but turns out the idea does float other people’s boats, because a swingers’ do billed as “a sexy and erotic Downton Abbey” was all set to take over a historic country house hotel in Devon, Bovey Castle.
We say was, because Bovey Castle has just come under new management, and, having heard about the event, has immediately curtailed it prematurely.
According to (of course) the Daily Mail, the swingers had hired the castle for five days and nights of frolics next July, including activities like sexy golf, sexy tennis and sexy tours of Exeter, the neighboring and decidedly unsexy city. You will not be surprised to find that this was being done by a US-based company for American swingers, because surely only Americans could find Exeter or golf or cold country houses erotic.
100 swinger couples had booked all 64 rooms (guess they were planning to share?), but the hotel has recently been acquired by the Eden Hotel Collection, who have said:
We have taken the decision that the event in no way fits with the core values of our businesses and have taken immediate steps to cancel the booking.
Bovey Castle has always been a hugely popular destination for families and as the new custodians of the hotel we are very keen to maintain this and further enhance the experience for our customers.
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We may have known that The Lanesborough London was going for a full-scale renovation (including auctioning off all furniture and trinkets from inside the hotel), but in a surprising twist on the road to its reopening next year, it will no longer be a St. Regis Hotel, but become part of the super-posh Oetker Collection instead.
That means a whole range of things: an exit for St. Regis from the London market, Starwood being one property down (Luxury Collection’s Park Tower is a few minutes west, Sheraton Park Lane a few minutes east), and Oetker Collection debuting another major capital property in addition to its Parisian palace Le Bristol (the seven other hotels lean towards resorts, like the Hotel du Cap-Eden-Roc).
Along with the announcement, we have a first glimpse of the Albert Pinto-designed interiors, with a rendering of a suite above. While brand new, the interiors look to stay true to the Regency era the hotel took its design cues from before. The suite brings in red / burgundy tones, while a room rendering below goes for a warm green.
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Remember when we told you about the Urban Villa Edinburgh, that’s currently under planning? Turns out that’s not the only one of its kind on the scene: Urban Villa London will kick off the brand when it opens in January.
According to the website, owned by the NOHO Hotel Group, it’ll be a place “where boutique hospitality collides with the comforts of luxurious residential living”. This means an all-suite property (100 suites in total) located in Brentford, halfway between Chiswick and Heathrow Airport. Suites – or “villas”, as they call them, will be “design-led”, with some, the Winter Garden Villas, enjoying views of Kew Gardens.
There’s very little info on the website, but it promises to combine “Manhattan style with thoughtful British modern luxury”. Each room will have a living room, kitchen and winter garden, as well as the bedroom. There will also be a gym, inroom spa treatments, and a concierge service. Our favorite part: you can pre-order a harder or softer mattress at the time of booking. Take it from someone currently struggling with the spinal after-effects of a month on SE Asian mattresses – this is the best idea in the world.
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It sounds like the best idea ever – a 19th century “sea fort” in the Solent, off England’s Isle of Wight, being transformed into a “luxury citadel on the sea” (AKA a 22-room hotel). But you’ll have to wait to see whether it’s as good as it sounds, because No Man’s Fort failed to open last week as scheduled, and has failed to provide a new date.
The ‘citadel in the sea’ is set to have 22 bedrooms, a museum, cabaret club, spa, laser quest arena, rooftop garden and pool, and two helicopter pads (for just 22 bedrooms, you can see who they’re aiming at). There’s not much about the rooms, yet, other than a few photos on the website, but we’d imagine they’ll be suitably luxurious.
The fort once housed soldiers, and was then turned into a luxury property – but this is the third sea fort for new owners Clarenco. Or rather, it will be once it opens – according to the BBC, there’s not yet any furniture in the hotel, due to “issues with construction of the landing stage”.
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Another week, another hotel opening delay. But this one is a little different. Where other hotels say sorry, hands up, we can’t finish it in time, this one claims to be opening late because they want to make it even better than planned, honest guv. Because it’s going to be extra brilliant, it’s going to take extra time.
The place in question is Hotel Football, the hotel we’d love to hate but actually rather like the look of – or rather, of the rooms, at least. It has just pushed its opening date back from November to March – but not because it’s waiting to die down from the scandal of employing a convicted killer in its advertising campaign. Perish the thought! It’s because, as a spokesman told the Manchester Evening News, they want to “further develop unique features, beyond our original plans”. Of course, guys, of course - all for the fans. How very generous.
From now until the opening in March, we will be enhancing the conference and banqueting facilities and will also be extending our rooftop 5-a-side football pitch and event space by over 50%.
We want to ensure the supporters and hotel guests have an unforgettable experience when they visit us and this additional preparation time will ensure this. It’ll be worth the wait.