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Inside J.W. Marriott Grosvenor House in London: This Is Luxury?

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  Site Where: Park Lane, London, United Kingdom, W1K 7TN
February 8, 2010 at 11:51 AM | by | Comment (1)

We just got back from London, and as you can see from our review of the Dean Street Townhouse, we slept around the hotels a fair bit. Our longest stop however, was at the J.W. Marriott Grosvenor House, where we spent three nights right on the edge of Hyde Park in the posh Mayfair neighborhood, on a row with other 5-star hotels like The Dorchester, The Metropolitan and The Intercontinental.

To tell the truth, the location was of course the best part about the hotel, and we would have been disappointed with the value for the money if we had paid full price ($350 a night) for the stay, but instead we scored it with our last ditch resort—a "Name Your Own Price" Priceline search that yielded us the unbeatable rate of $160 a night for this 5-star hotel in London.

So what was wrong and what was right with the place? Find out after the jump

Check-in: A major plus for this hotel was its allowing us, fresh off of an overnight flight from JFK and drenched by early morning London rain, to access our room around 10am. They even "upgraded" us to a superior room on the 8th floor. As we showed you before, we were handed two of the weirdest-looking room keys we've ever encountered, and then directed through the homey lobby with its fireplace and dark library-like lounge to the elevators.

Room Reaction: How do we work this key? A few confusing moments of figuring out the magic wand key later, we were pushing open the non-functional middle-of-the-door-knob and stepping into a room that was very long and narrow. Although the view from the massive windows wasn't over Hyde Park, we were happier with the London rooftops, even if the first thing we did was close all the drapes and sleep off the jet lag.

Everything looked in order at first, until we took in how truly small the room's double bed was; in a large room such as this, it's only right to have a queen bed at least, but the room didn't seem to have any ideal walls that would fit a queen bed. Also, the TV was not very large for being as far away from the bed as it was, and the desk was so distant that it was almost like being in another room from someone sitting on the bed—a help or hindrance, depending on the person working at the desk.

We wish we had something critical to say of the bathroom, but it was really a pretty standard bathroom. C'mon—this is a Marriott, after all. Even though we're talking a J.W. Marriott, which is supposed to be nicer than regular Marriotts, nothing seemed to be especially luxurious. There was a phone in there—but why? And we suppose the heated towel rack was nice, but we could have cared less about it, one way or the other. The shower was nice and powerful though; so there's that.

Amenities: The Grosvenor House understands well its distance from the shopping and dining districts, and thus there's a quaint pastry/sandwich shop, a fancy French restaurant, a proper room for afternoon tea and a cozy bar/lounge on the main floor. We used none of these, since as usual with hotel shops and restaurants, the prices were inflated. It was nice knowing they were there however, and they certainly would prove useful to business travelers.

In room, the minibar was there and left untouched, the usual toiletries on the sink, a scale on the floor, and yet no way to make hot water, tea or coffee. Perhaps we missed it, but we searched pretty hard and we're of the mind that there is no tea set so that guests are drawn down to the pricey options at the pastry shop downstairs.

And then, at the start of our second day, tragedy struck. Well, our idea of tragedy, that is. We received a message from the front desk that the televisions on our floor were out, and they could move us to another room if we wished. So we called down to see about the offer, and they said that the TV outage had spread to whole hotel, and the problem should be fixed the next day. One thing we really enjoy about traveling to London is coming in after an early dinner and de-jetlagging by watching British TV shows. Come the third day, and the TVs aren't fixed yet and very little apology is made. Without evening entertainment, we decide to get some work done and thus turn to the internet, where the situation worsened...

Internet Connect: As we know from previous Marriott stays, they charge for internet usage, and it's not cheap. Thankfully every other hotel we were to stay at had free WiFi, so we only had to stress over the connection this once, and the J.W. Marriott Grosvenor didn't make it any easy decision. Our total, for 24 hours of internet using a network cable at the room's desk, was $33. There is no WiFi in the rooms, only down in the main floor's public areas if you've already bought the room internet. So we sat and sat and sat at the rigid desk working, plugged into the cable and unable to move to the small bed or, even if the TV were working, unable to see the TV. Luckily we knew to our use our laptop to make a network bridge WiFI connection so we could at least use our iPhones in bed. So much for Marriott being hip to technology.

What We Liked: Isn't it obvious? Not that much. The location was excellent, and we ended up going to the neighboring hotels that had free WiFi for a drink and a quick email check. One morning we were running tight with time and need to get to Victoria Station asap, so the ready-and-waiting taxi queue out the hotel's rear entrance was definitely a plus, but then most nicer hotels have that. And even though $160 a night is a bargain for a 5-star hotel in Mayfair, it ended up being the most expensive nights we had during the whole trip, and every other hotel we stayed at was nicer, with far more amenities and free WiFi. We won't be returning. This is not a hotel for the tech savvy, value-conscious leisure traveler.

What We Didn't Like: A whole laundry list of things, really. The small double bed in a room level that is one step up from standard, the awkward layout of the room, the lack of room amenities like a teapot, the TV outage that forced us onto their horrible internet system, and the suspicion that this property wasn't any more luxurious as a J.W. Marriott than a normal Marriott.

Bottom Line: We know the Priceline $160 night deal we got is tempting, but if you're looking to spend more than one hour awake in your room or just want a special place to stay, look elsewhere. Look elsewhere if you want WiFi (even pay WiFi), look elsewhere if you want to have non-hotel dining and shopping just outside the door, and look elsewhere if your idea of luxury is greater than heated towel racks and a Hyde Park location. That said, we can see how this is a good property for business travelers and those who just don't care where they stay so long as it's safe and nice.

[All photos: HotelChatter]

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Depends on the room you get

I stayed at the Grosvenor House for business last year (joined by family, however) and had a far better experience, although probably because I'm an elite member with Marriott and was able to get a fabulous room upgrade. I had an extremely spacious corner room overlooking Hyde Park, one of the largest rooms I've had in years. Love the location, too, just 2 blocks from the Marble Arch Tube station, as well as restaurants and shopping.

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