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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.
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 £1 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 £200 ($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 ]
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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.
Because our list of new hotels for east London wasn’t long enough, here is another one: the Great Eastern Street Hotel. No points for guessing which street the hotel is on, which means that once complete, it will be a hop and a skip from The Hoxton Shoreditch and Nobu Shoreditch. In fact, you can just spy a sliver of the building that will be torn down to make way for Nobu in the aerial view above, to the right of the leafless tree, one block behind Great Eastern Street.
The 70,000 sq ft project will have a 125-bedroom hotel, taking over a site that was derelict for over a decade. Incorporating the façade of a Victorian warehouse, the Grade-II listed Griffin Pub will be restored, with “upper levels being converted to residential use”.
Last week, we looked at unknown-to-us Shiva Hotels and their expansion in central London, and promised you an update on their plans around St. Paul’s Cathedral, which include the razing of an existing office building and replacing it with a 300,000 sq ft hotel.
Above a rendering of the future Millennium Bridge House, at the northern edge of the bridge of the same name that connects straight to Tate Modern across the river. While the entire backdrop of Shiva’s website shows these night-time renderings, the hotel is not yet listed in the group’s portfolio, but that may have something to do with the fact that there is a lot of work to be done – check out what it looks like today below.
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While we wait for Mama Shelter to open in Los Angeles (more on that in a second), some major news came out about the future of the funky brand last week: Accor Hotels, the French mega hotel group, has acquired a roughly 35% stake and is planning on making Mama much bigger.
Mama’s current five locations (Paris, Marseille, Lyon, Istanbul, and Bordeaux) will be joined by another twenty over the next five years. That’s a lot of groovy and affordable hotels to welcome, and the destination list looks very good: New York, London, Barcelona, Amsterdam, Seoul, Mexico City, Zurich, Lille, Paris round two, and of course, Los Angeles.
Little word so far on specific locations in each of those cities, but we will keep our ear to the ground. First addition will likely be Los Angeles, which we’ll have to be patient for until February 2015 unfortunately. Go here for our snaps of the Wilcox Avenue building in Hollywood from back in August.
Earlier in the week the internet geeked out over The Harry Potter Hotel in London also known as The Georigan House Hotel. So many Harry Potter nerds (including us) were dying to see what the rooms looked like, that we all crashed the hotel's website. But once we read the room description and saw the photos, we were entirely unimpressed.
The "Wizard's Chambers", as they are called are and which should be your first clue that things aren't quite right here, are not officially sanctioned by Warner Brothers, who own the rights to the Harry Potter brand.
Indeed, the rooms sport no mention of Harry or Gryyfindor but rather just some vague wizarding touches like walls that look like castle walls, mirrors that look like castle windows and furniture that looks like castle furniture, along with some plaid blankets, old luggage and other items that might be found at Hogwarts. There isn't even a quidditch broom lying around!
The Georgian is simply taking advantage of the fact that Harry Potter took place in London and that the city now offers a "Muggle Walking Tour" and the Warner Brothers Studio Tour--The Making of Harry Potter. Neither of these tours are included in the £209 Wizard Chamber room rate, although breakfast is. But lest the hotel try to pull a fast one over
Warner Brothers you, they included this disclosure on their website:
Please note that the Wizard Chambers at the Georgian House provide a unique magical experience, and are not part of the Warner Bros official tour and have not been endorsed, sanctioned or in any other way supported, directly or indirectly by Warner Bros. Entertainment, the Harry Potter book publishers or J.K.Rowling and her representatives.
If there ever was a real Harry Potter Hotel opening, we'd be the first to know. But we don't think it will happen for a while. Warner Brothers won't even let all the hotels at Universal Studios in Orlando do anything Harry-themed with their rooms.
[Photo: Georgian House Hotel]
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Well this isn’t very true to character. The Exhibitionist Hotel in South Kensington, which we told you about last month, is opening earlier than its scheduled 1 December date – rooms are available to book from 10 November.
An early opening is weird in itself, but what’s weirder is that the hotel’s own website, which was imminent last time we checked in, is still not up and running - there’s just a placeholder page with email addresses to contact. Less than two weeks to go and no website? That’s brave.
You can, of course, still book through the Preferred Hotel Group, which is showing rooms from £368 on opening night. But if you’re planning to book, you should do it through flash sale site Secret Escapes, which has it for £199 – good value for the location.