United Kingdom Travel Guide
Hotel Refurbishments / Hotel Renovations / London Hotels / Luxury Hotels / Belgravia Hotels / → All Tags
We popped into the bar on Saturday for an opening day drink. The bar itself isn’t so new – they’ve done up one side of it to look like the other, including layering the ceiling in gold leaf – gold leaf!
The rooms have been redone, but we didn’t get a chance to see them – expect pictures next week.
But it’s the lobby that’s seen probably the biggest change – from a traditional, even staid, plain white affair, to this hand-painted number.
Hotel Openings / Hotel Opening Rates / Country House Hotels / Historic Hotels / Abbey Hotels / Worcestershire Hotels / English Country House Hotels / → All Tags
Normally, hotels in former monasteries are all spartan and pared back. Not so Stanbrook Abbey, which opens fully 1 March in the middle of England's pretty Malvern Hills in Worcestershire.
There are 52 rooms in the main building of the abbey, which dates back to 1625, though the current architecture is Victorian, by Pugin. There were more, when it was nuns living here; but the hotel has torn walls down to make the nuns’ cells into proper bedrooms, and adding distinctly non-monastic things like central heating and bathrooms.
Hotel Service Charges / Hotel Service / Snapshot / London Hotels / Belgravia Hotels / Luxury Hotels / Hotel Bars / → All Tags
Service charges – a topic that’s been in our minds on HC recently. The ethics of room service charges got us all wound up the other week, but what about normal service charges – the type that get added automatically to your bill, before you can say whether or not you wanted to leave a tip?
Automatic gratuities are becoming the norm in London now, with 12.5% the normal whack (apart from our funny little friends at Belgraves who automatically add 15%, thank you very much). For reference, 10% is what one would normally tip in London.
But here is the genteel way to present your service charge:
Thompson Hotels / London Hotels / Belgravia Hotels / Hotel Restaurants / Hotel Rants / Hotel Service / → All Tags
Pont St on Sunday, which we'd been told was fully booked
We need to talk about Belgraves.
When Thompson’s first London (and first non-US) hotel opened three years ago, there were teething problems. Many. I stayed on opening night, and my stay was so amateur that when I outlined what had happened at check out, a manager offered me a voucher for a free night’s stay any time in the next year to make up for it. I never cashed in that voucher, because I was so bummed out by my first experience that I couldn’t really be bothered to go back.
As it happens, I live pretty near Belgraves, and, over the last three years, I’ve tried to give it a chance. I’ve gone for drinks, breakfast, dinner, an abortive attempt at afternoon tea (we left after trying to get the server’s attention for over 20 minutes). The service has been mediocre to dire every time. I had given up on it.
But now I am getting worried about Belgraves.
Hotel Openings / Hotel Opening Rates / Manchester Hotels / Sports Hotels / Football Hotels / Soccer Hotels / Ryan Giggs / → All Tags
It’s been a long road for Hotel Football, Manchester’s football-themed hotel. First there was its dubious ownership (
love rat footballer Ryan Giggs, who, if we’re being generous, we’d call a love-hate figure in Britain). Then there were the childish-looking renderings. The model who turned out to be a convicted killer. Then the inevitable delay in opening.
But finally things are coming together for Giggsy and Gary Neville – the hotel is on track to open 1 March, though it appears to be in soft opening already. It’s still playing coy on the website, with no photos of the rooms yet, but the Twitter feed has been retweeting photos from people getting sneak peeks, and the Manchester Evening News reports that local students from the University of Salford have covered the place in football-themed murals, including feature walls behind the beds. And you know what? We hate to say this, but they look pretty good.
Hotel Restaurants / Hotel Chefs / London Hotels / Picadilly Hotels / Soho Hotels / The Set Hotels / → All Tags
Empty plates at the Ten Room, just waiting to be filled with your home-brought food
Open kitchens and chef’s tables? Over. The latest idea in hotel restauranting? Get the guests to bring their own ingredients.
The Ten Room at Café Royal, which, to be honest, we haven’t heard much about since it opened to rather disastrous reviews, has just announced a Bring Your Own Ingredient menu, in which you literally bring what you want them to cook.
Hotel Happy Hours / Hotel Bars / London Hotels / Hotel Technology / Pimlico Hotels / Belgravia Hotels / → All Tags
The 3D TV
Anyone who loves hanging out in hotels* will know that the downside of gorgeous spaces, people-watching and nice bathrooms is usually the premium price. £15 for an entry level cocktail in a nice London hotel? Yeah, we’ll reluctantly swallow that, it’s par for the course.
Not so at the Eccleston Square Hotel, though. Until the end of March, it’s offering £4.95 cocktails from 5pm-8pm Monday to Saturday.
Yes, cocktails for under a fiver. In London. In a nice hotel. And not at an hour where drinking incurs funny looks.
The W London Lounge
Last week, I found myself in central London with a colleague, with an hour to spare between meetings. It was lunchtime. We both had work to do. We’d been out and about all morning.
We were near Covent Garden. My colleague suggested a restaurant. I mooted the Lounge at the W London. I won.
But when we got there, he was shocked. It was so fancy! All the staff were so beautiful! Everyone around us was so… rich looking! “Do you have to be Scandinavian to work here?” he asked me. He called his wife to marvel at the “eurotrash” and the “too beautiful” people surrounding us. He brought it up in the meeting we went to afterwards. The other meetingees were equally baffled and entranced by the idea of going to this insane, snazzy, eurotrashy hotel, when we could have gone to Starbucks.
Hotel Renovations / Hotel Reopenings / Hotel Refurbishments / London Hotels / Westminster Hotels / Royal Hotels / → All Tags
Things we never expect to change in London:
The royal family.
The never-ending roadworks.
The inability to make any kind of eye contact on public transport.
That bastion of poshness, the Goring Hotel.
Edit: those were things we never expected to change until this weekend, when we walked past the Goring and found it closed – closed! For the first time in its 105-year history! – for renovation.
As we told you, the bed-in started on Monday night and is being live-streamed on Youtube. Here are some of the highlights:
The courtyard at Rosewood London sure is pretty; we’ve known that since the group opened its first European hotel in the 1914 Edwardian Belle Epoque Building on High Holborn back in October 2013. Since then, it’s become home to the terrace of Holborn Dining Room (around the corner on the left in the above photo), but as of March 1, there will be more food – slow food – appearing every Sunday.
Between 10.30am and 3pm, rain or shine, the “Slow Food & Living Market” will “recreate the traditional marketplace shopping experience in Holborn and celebrate good, clean and fair produce from local growers and artisans”.
There are hands on hotel General Managers, and then there are hands on hotel General Managers.
The new GM of the London Marriott Park Lane, Nicolas Kipper, is one of the latter.