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File this story under "Ouch": London's much vaunted and hyped St. Pancras Renaissance has received a less than stellar review by The Telegraph, whose reviewer describes rooms in the sprawling property as "bland" and "overpriced," with "lacklustre service" to match.
Among writer Fiona Duncan's main gripes: loud street traffic, curiously absent employees to answer questions, non-functioning internet, and no business centre for guests' use.
The first complaint comes as no surprise to those of us on the ground in London; anyone that's emerged above ground from King's Cross International Station, site of the Eurorail link and a major tube station, can attest to the constant swarm of travelers, buses, and horn honking taxi drivers around the area and the headache-inducing cacophony they produce.
Additionally, the noise complaint was brought up just after opening by The Daily Mail who mentioned that the "room shakes gently" when a train pulls out of the station. The non-functioning internet is new, however, and such a shame as it costs £6 an hour or £15 pounds for 24-hour access. Ugh.
The view from one of the 38 rooms in the St Pancras Renaissance’s original building
We may not have had the best reception, to put it mildly, when we hit up the
This weekend saw two new articles on the hotel pop up in the British press. The first, in the Mail, brought some stunning new photos and awesome new hotel geek factoids: like the fact that the lobby, which is described as being possibly the largest in Europe (might want to check on that, Renaissance folks), used to be a cab rank, or that the main staircase was built wide so that two women could pass in crinolines without brushing into each other.
One not so good thing: as a train pulls out of the station, “the room shakes, gently”. Uh oh.
There are lots of new hotels opening in London, but we shan't forget the golden oldies as there are still plenty around. So, the other night we 'slummed' it at the Rough Luxe Hotel, definitely one of most unique hotels in London.
The concept of the hotel is as its website describes “half rough, half luxury”. It’s certainly not in the best location although with all of the development in the area, and the new hotels opening close by including the eagerly awaited St Pancras and the Great Northern Hotel, we have a feeling that will change.
We already figured out that the Sofitel London Heathrow T5 is pretty high on the high-tech side of hotel life, what with its complicated air-conditioner controls, referred to by tech-friendlier guests as "cool gizmos".
But now there is high-tech TV as well. The Acentic Panorama system just launched in the Heathrow Sofitel and this is meant to be a mix of on-demand and interactive TV services that should probably satisfy pretty much anyone. We're usually pretty fussy about this, but it certainly doesn't sound too bad to get this:
access to 500 international satellite TV channels and up to 250 movies - all available totally on demand and with the ability to pause, fast-forward and rewind the movies.
We were thinking that an airport hotel is not the place we're going to be spending a lot of time--mostly we just want to sleep there--but since many of the rooms at the Heathrow Sofitel include a TV in the bathroom, there's plenty of chance to watch the latest movie right to the end. Useful for some but not all, that's our final judgment.
It's early days in the life of the new Sofitel London Heathrow which is the only hotel that directly connects to the airport's Terminal 5. The hotel soft opened in July but should now be fully functioning. And it's not your average airport hotel either.
The concept architect was Stephen Williams (Conrad Hotel in Chelsea Harbour) with the interiors designed by Khuan Chew who worked on the Burj al Arab.
Themes of country and continent resonate throughout the hotel; in the entrance lobby ‘Antarctica’ takes central stage with a dramatic water fountain centrepiece commissioned from RHS Chelsea winner David Harber.
Khuan Chew’s also created one of the most swank suites we've heard about in an airport hotel yet--the hotel's Imperial Suite include the first Swarovski crystal bathrooms in a European.
Taken from the lobby restaurant inside the Baglioni Hotel in London this past weekend.
Over the Easter weekend we took a mini-trip to London with a friend and stayed at the Baglioni Hotel overlooking Hyde Park in Kensington. In fact, we took this deal that we found on Tablet Hotels: three nights for the price of two at 230 pounds a night which included daily breakfast and a chocolate Easter Egg.
And we're going to tell you upfront that we liked this hotel a lot. Location, rooms, price, and free internet--this place had it all.
Our video tour is a little dark but don't worry, there are plenty of pictures after the jump.
Earlier this week, we scoped out some "cheap" rates for the Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park Hotel in London. Although a rate of $477 was the cheapest we could find, that's still a deal for a Mandarin Oriental (ie. MO NYC has a $900+ rate.)
So what's this Mandarin Oriental like and is it worth our American dollars?
For starters, let's talk location. The hotel backs onto Hyde Park, but it's also across the road from Harvey Nichols department store and is just minutes from Harrods and surrounding Knightsbridge designer stores.
What's more, you're within a stone's throw of Buckingham Palace as well, and can witness the procession of the Household Cavalry from the comfort of your very balcony. (But we bet a room with a balcony and this view costs extra.)
HotelChatter readers are in the midst of picking sides on the following issue:
Hotel in Question:
Hyatt Andaz London
Hotly Debated Issue:
Is the new Hyatt Andaz, and the area around the hotel, a ghost town on weekends? Or is the rate of under $300/night a steal for London?
Andaz, the brand spankin' new boutique brand from Hyatt, will debut in London November 15. The first Andaz is a renovation of the old Great Eastern Hyatt Hotel. While opening rates seemed to sit squarely around a lofty $800 a night, we were able to find rates for under $300 a night on weekend nights.
We are a Bunch of Idiots Side (added 3.13.08)
The idiots on one website who started a thread about London's Andaz Hotel being far away from the action at the weekend: in fact it's in Shoreditch, home of the capitals best nightlife.
So says our favorite travel glossy, who seem to agree with HotelChatter member digid, and well, you heard them call everyone else a bunch of Johnny Damons.
Ghost Town Side:
Having stayed at The Great Eastern I can tell you why the rates are so much lower on the weekends: The City, where Andaz is located, is a ghost town.
All of the restaurants in the hotel (including the Pub) are closed on the weekend, with exception of the casual place where your included breakfast is served. Other than the McDonald's outside Liverpool Street Station, and the M&S Simply Food inside, there's no place to get something to eat or drink on Saturdays and Sundays. Spend a Friday at the hotel and you'll see just how isolated and lonely it is in London's business and financial district when the markets are closed.
If you get a deal on a rate like I did, then its a steal in London (I paid under $350 for two nights)
The Liverpool train and Tube stop is 100 yards away, open on weekends and has fast food. Granted some shopping is closed and so are the shops, but by tube, walking or taxi you can find plenty.
· Hyatt Andaz Coverage [HotelChatter]
The faboo Monica Guy returns with a review of a swank and not-for-everyone London hotel. Enjoy.
You think we live in a free society? Try getting into the St Martin's Lane Hotel in London.
With its towering mirror-windowed, office-block style and revolving doors you'd think you were in Canary Wharf or the City, not just a short hop from Trafalgar Square in prime theatre land. But it's not for old businessmen. Oh no. Not at all.
See who's allowed in after the jump.
Six months and $12 million later, the Radisson Edwardian Leicester Square Hotel has finally opened its doors. What can guests expect? According to Michael Attenborough, head of design at the hotel, a whole lot more:
The new look at the boutique-style Leicester Square Hotel focuses on a fantastically comfortable bed and a great bathroom experience. All guestrooms have been updated, with furnishings in cream and taupe tones, and leather headboards and side tables. Accent colors are lime green and deep pink in the bedrooms. The bar and restaurant have more a bar/lounge feel for relaxing and socializing.
New additions include air condition (perfect timing, since summer is finally over), a state-of-the-art fitness center, and complementary wireless. And the better version of its old self it still convenient to the West End theater district, and London's other major traveling hot spots.
But this hotel is not the only renovation game around. It seems that tons of hotels are either undergoing or finishing up their renovations. We're doing our best here to keep you in the loop so here are some more that we've found.
· The New Yorker hotel has finished three floors in its $65 million renovation [Hotel Interactive]
· The Cecil Hotel in downtown LA set for a makeover [Downtown News]
· Doubletree Seattle Aiport finishes their $20 million renovation [Hotel Interactive]
· The Hotel Villamagna in Madrid is closed for renovations and donating unwanted furnishings for charity [IHT]
Finding somewhere to stay in London that has both a clean room and a price that doesn't totally blow your budget is quite a challenge. Coming in at #1 last year on the TripAdvisor rankings, and still doing well precisely because it doesn't cost a fortune, the ParkCity London is a recommended spot to crash in London.
No recent guest has a single bad word to say about the ParkCity, and the price speaks for itself: it's common to get a special web rate of 99 pounds ($200), even in summer, and that's really reasonable for a decent hotel in central London. Not only that, the ParkCity is a ten-minute walk from the Earl's Court underground stop, the rooms aren't tiny, the staff are helpful and it's quiet, despite its central location. There's not much more you can ask for in London, unless you have much deeper pockets.
· London Hotel Reviews [HotelChatter]
· Travel Stories in London [Jaunted]