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Afternoon tea at Claridge’s is a London institution. Afternoon tea at Claridge’s in the run-up to Christmas is a global institution. Seats are like gold dust: even when we stayed overnight a couple of years ago in December – in a posh suite, for goodness’ sake! Costing over a thousand pounds! – there was no room for us for tea.
So when Louise Burns turned up for tea with her mother, sister and newborn baby, it was obviously a long planned, much longed for treat.
But then it soured when she started breastfeeding and the hotel brought over a napkin and asked her to cover up.
Over the summer, we first looked at Motel One London Tower Hill, a budget-chic concept from Germany making its way into the British capital with a 258-room hotel on Minories. True to its word, it achieved its planned opening of late 2014, with reservations up and running from this week.
Room rates start just under £100 (about $150) a night, with rates for tonight, December 1, at £113 ($177), going up to £132 ($206) a night if you want breakfast. That’s £9.50 ($15) for breakfast per person, rather than the £7.50 ($12) we were promised back in July. WiFi is free no matter what.
We can see three room types, all of which share the above image, so we assume that is indeed the final design: Queen & Double rooms that cost the same, and “City View” rooms that go for £20 ($31) a night more – perhaps these are in the taller part of the structure that reaches 18 stories high.
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On the first day of Christmas, Andaz Liverpool Street gave to me… a giant box that looked gorgeous on the outside but was ultimately empty, perhaps as a representation of the hollow emotional void of consumerism.
Nah, as if – this is the Festive Folly in the Andaz lobby, and it’s no damning take on modern society; rather, it’s an East London art installation. As you walk through the folly, its comforting glow will warm the cockles of your heart, and its festive scent – there’s a Fornasetti candle inside, plus it’s made of birch– will arouse your scent glands into a Christmas frenzy. Buy buy buy!
We’ve already taken you on a tour of the public areas of Rosewood London, but now it’s time to get more intimate with the hotel.
We had a chance to look inside an Executive Room, considered to be an entry level room right after the Deluxe Room, a Premier Suite and a Grand Premier Suite. (After these come the eight Signature Suites, one being the Manor House Suite which can become the Manor House Wing if you book all five connecting rooms – the only hotel “suite” in the world to have its own postal code.)
The 306 rooms and suites were designed by Tony Chi & Associates, who also designed most of the public spaces including the lobby. The rooms feel like stylin’ pieds–à–terre – dramatic in black lacquer, 50 shades of grey (yeah – couldn’t resist!), and design-studio white. Artwork on the walls is equally striking in black and white. But what could potentially be considered “cold” in feel is warmed up by textured wood furnishings.
All bathrooms have hammered silver sinks (very old-school becomes new-school), white marble, and mirrors, mirrors everywhere so no awkward navel-gazing required; do it with ease. You’ll also find heated floors (yes!) and Czech & Speake toiletries in Lavender or Neroli (the first foray into hotel toiletries for this London-based fragrance house).
Check out the image gallery for lots of room pics!
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Last month we told you about the Tulse Hill Hotel, an unlikely-but-nice new opening in a deep residential part of South London. Tulse Hill as the next London hotel boom area? Probably not, but the Tulse Hill Hotel is now open, and it’s looking great.
The hotel launched last week with a party for locals (sweet!). The focus so far has been on the bar and restaurant side of it – partly because partiers were given free food and cocktails on the night, and partly because locals don’t need hotel rooms. But although the hotel is keeping its cards very close to its chest regarding the rooms (pet peeve: hotels that open sans photos), we spied this pic on its Facebook page. What do you reckon? It looks pretty small, and dark, but we like the curtains, the big, heritage-style window (which seems double glazed – YES) and the understated vibe looks like it could have potential. Reserving judgment till some daytime pics come through.
Never did we think it would be Four Seasons that would end up managing Ten Trinity Square when we first looked at the development earlier this year, but so we found out a few months ago. The website has moved on from being just a landing page, with a tiny bit more detail on the hotel, residences, and club that will arrive inside the former Port of London Authority building.
Starting with the hotel, opening is scheduled for 2016, with no further commitment to when within that twelve-month window. It will occupy the lower ground to the third levels, with 100 guest rooms and suites (the press release from Four Seasons talked about 98, but who are we to nit-pick).
Above the rendering we have at this point, which shows soaring ceilings, classic details, and a dramatic four-poster bed and step-down lounge. We assume this would be one of the suites, and if the hotel is located on the lower floors of the building, this 2nd floor layout we found in February may indeed be accurate. That called for all rooms having separate bathtubs and showers, and no fewer than three Royal Suites.
Joanna Lumley's Covent Garden
Covent Garden is one of the most maligned areas of London. Everyone thinks they know it ("yeah totes it's that square with street performers and a semi-open market and touristy restaurants all around"). Tourists think they’ve ticked it off their list, most locals avoid it like the plague, unless they have to visit the Apple Store. Covent Garden: DONE.
No, says local hotel One Aldwych. You haven’t ‘done’ Covent Garden, and you aren’t done with it. What fools you are, to not even scratch the surface of this magical neighborhood.
To prove its case, the hotel has interviewed notable locals, asking why they love Covent Garden and getting tips on where to go. Some are integral parts of the community, like retro candy shop owners Kitty Hope and Mark Greenwood, and ballet dancers Ricardo Cervera and Romany Pajdak. Others are full on celebrities: Joanna Lumley and Dame Sarah Storey, one of Team GB’s Paralympic champions. Since Covent Garden has always been artistic, you’ll also find Caroline Rush, Chief Executive of the British Fashion Council and Julian Bird of the Society of London Theatre.
Some terrible news out of London just as the weekend was starting a few days ago: around 11.40pm on Friday night, a gas explosion occurred in the basement of the Hyatt Regency London – The Churchill, injuring twelve hotel employees.
All guests were evacuated and accommodated at nearby hotels. Various news outlets, including the BBC, are referring to a few people being hospitalized, with the total number of guests evacuated at around 500. No guests were injured, according to a Hyatt spokesperson.
While The Telegraph opens with the blast having caused “part of the building to collapse”, the main structure of the building is intact. The London Fire Brigade, which responded to the incident, believes it due to a suspected gas leak, resulting in “extensive damage to the basement and the ground floor”.
We hope the injured will recover soon. We’ll keep you posted if there is a longer-term impact on the Hyatt, but leave you for now with the official statement from the hotel’s website:
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?