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Shepherd’s Bush doesn’t sound like the most rock n roll of London addresses, until you think about all those pop stars who’ve played the Shepherd’s Bush Empire, and those who performed in what was once Kensington House, a BBC studio – and a building that’s now the K West Hotel.
And so the hotel – which is often overlooked by London visitors, thanks to its location – is going all out to channel the music vibe, with a subtle rock refurbishment of the public areas and an ‘afternoon tea’ in the shape of late night munchies.
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Good news for the cost-conscious business traveller to London: a few weeks from now, there will be a fifth Tune Hotel to choose from, this time among Canary Wharf’s corporate high-rises. Four and a half years after we first tested its Westminster location, this 130-room hotel will bring some new interior design to go with the same low, low, low rates the group is known for.
Above a double room with window, of which there are 85. Another 22 doubles do without the exterior aspect, while for the 20 twin rooms the only choice is the windowed kind. Three accessible rooms (also with window) take it to the total of 130 rooms, walking distance from Canary Wharf tube station (the Jubilee line will take you to the heart of the West End in less than half an hour) and West India Quay for the DLR overground.
The 5:2 diet is all the rage in the UK right now. If you haven’t heard of it, the premise is simple – five days of the week you eat normally, and two days of the week you fast. By fasting, we don’t mean starving – you just stick to 500 calories a day. It is wildly popular.
500 calories in a day sounds doable but, having done the diet before, it’s not. Luckily, though, the beautiful Balcon restaurant at the Sofitel St James (the people who last brought you an art exhibition called 'Vegetables') is coming to the rescue of the likes of us with its new De-Light menu.
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Raising the temperature in the Amber Suite
What to do when you’re a five star hotel in an egregiously expensive city which is one of the centers of the banking world which caused the global financial crisis, and your prices are such that only rich people and celebrities (because celebrities are all over your hotel) can afford to stay there?
You put on a play about wealth and complacency and capitalism and guilt… in one of your top suites.
Having walked by Nobu Shoreditch, just east of London’s Old Street roundabout, we quickly headed up City Road to see the latest at M by Montcalm Shoreditch, the “super high-tech” hotel the group has promised us for early this year. Construction has certainly progressed since last summer, with the still very angular building free of scaffolding, and most notably, with the top floor – meant to house a rooftop restaurant and bar – now complete.
Reservations have also moved up to March 1 from March 3, but what really caught our eye were the options to ‘enhance’ your stay. Complimentary room fragrances: romantic touch, refreshing lavender, fresh clean, pink grapefruit, saw grass, and marine fresh. Pillow menu: anti-aging, hypo-allergenic, shape your sleep, “The Ecological Pillow”, Ladies' Dainty Delight, and as pièce de resistance, Manly Macho Magic. We have no words.
Stay near the British Museum and you may see your hotel rate rise
Paris. Rome. Athens. Europe is a continent of hotel taxes – those extra couple of euros tacked onto your stay that go direct to the city – but one place has held out. Until now.
Camden Council in London is considering charging a £1-a-night tax on hotel stays, in order to raise £5m annually to be used for street cleaning in its tourist areas (Camden Town, St Pancras, and even Bloomsbury, around the British Museum).
It never fails. We compile a Master List of Hotel Openings and despite our "clear eyes full hearts can't lose" game day approach to the year ahead, we know there will inevitably some tough breaks. Like this one regarding CitizenM Hotels trio of London hotels--Shoreditch, Tower Hill and Holborn (pictured, under very minimal construction.)
We already knew a 2015 opening for any of the three hotels would be tough. But now a tipster has received word from a Citizen at CitizenM that the hotels won't open before 2016. Gutted. Oh well, strike this one from the list and carry it over to 2016's draft.
[Photo: JasonD for HotelChatter]
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Last week we had to inform you that the rooms at The Hospital have gone up in price just a few weeks in. But what we taketh away, we also give, so here’s some good news: Urban Villa is launching with lower rates than planned.
It is, of course, the all-suite half hotel, half residence midway between London and Heathrow (or, as they euphemistically style it, the “Great West Quarter” of London). When we first discovered it, rooms were due to start at £129, but now they’re down, right down, to £100 and up. For what you get, that is an exceptional rate. Nay, extremely exceptional.
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When we first headed over to east London’s Willow Street to check out the future site of Nobu Shoreditch, we encountered a dreary office block without much sign of the excitedly announced construction status of the future hotel. We assumed that everything that was there had to be razed, and we were right: above what you’ll find today, which is to say, nothing much.
In true east London style, graffiti has taken over the plywood surrounding the narrow site, where by first quarter next year a five-story, 156-room hotel should be complete. While we'd still love for that to happen so soon (in hotel time), we’ll believe it when we see it.
Well, that didn’t last long.
When we told you about the new hotel wing coming to London’s private members’ club The Hospital, we said that the £99 room rates were “almost unfathomable”. And that has come to pass, because under a month in, the cheapest rate we can see is £123.75 – and that’s for a small sleeper room. After that, prices leap, nay high-jump, to £180 and up - as far as £580 for the suite, which we assume is shown in these, new, pictures.
Although, to be fair, that’s still not bad for London – especially if you’re excited by access to the club that you wouldn’t otherwise get.
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We may have accepted that citizenM’s expansion in London wouldn’t happen in 2014 when we heard they would be giving us a third affordable-chic hotel in Shoreditch, but that was based on the understanding that 2015 openings were a definite yes.
The year is young, we know, but what we are seeing at Tower Hill (the group’s flagship) and Holborn isn’t very promising. Starting at Tower Hill (above), the main difference between today and July last year is the concrete lift shaft that has risen to eight stories – you can see the photo from before here. Just as then, we’ll allow for the possible spurt in development given that this is a modular hotel, with all rooms built offsite and then craned into place.
If you like traditional elegance in a hotel, you can’t really beat the star wattage at London’s Savoy hotel. The place oozes fine service and, to be honest, we were pretty impressed. But great service, location and iconic status often comes with a price tag to match. Luckily, what we were shown as the best room to book at the hotel was not a status symbol suite, but a Luxury King River View--specifically, room 514.
Rooms at The Savoy are decorated in either Edwardian or Art Deco style--although all Luxury King River View rooms are done up in Edwardian--and are pretty darn spacious. But what makes this room so special? It’s the commanding view over the River Thames and the British Eye. We stayed on a higher floor that also looked out over the Thames, but there is something about being a bit lower down at tree-level that makes one feel more "at one" with your green surroundings and dappled sunlit room.
Check out the photo gallery!