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Well, that took a long time. Three and a half years ago, the Hotel Verta – riverside in London’s Battersea neighborhood, with a heliport outside the front door – went looking for someone new after its Von Essen hotel group went into administration. That was only a year after it opened in a location that was enough out of the way for it to struggle pretty much from day one.
We’ll admit things have been so quiet we wouldn’t have been able tell you with certainty the Verta was still open, but evidently it was, with the news that it is now the Crowne Plaza London – Battersea. Together with the Crowne Plaza that is being developed near Albert Embankment and the existing City hotel, that will give IHG three Crowne Plazas on or next to the river between Battersea and Blackfriars.
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Twelve months ago, we listed six London hotels to watch out for, and waited patiently for each of them to arrive over the course of 2014. In a world of perpetual hotel delays, we didn’t do so badly, with only one out of six not opening as promised.
With last year’s success rate in mind and finding ourselves in a year that ends on five, it only seems right to take a look at five new London hotels that should make their debut between now and December. Noticeably absent from the list? Clermont London, the one hotel that prevented us from scoring a six out of six last year. Silence on the transformation of the Royal Horseguards Hotel continues, with no update since we first wrote about it in late 2013. Who knows, it may catch us by surprise and open this year, but having been fooled once, we’ll focus on the following for now.
The Lanesborough: closed for well over a year, a “Spring 2015” return came with a fresh website and the news that the Hyde Park Corner hotel would join the Oetker Collection. Renderings show the 93 rooms and suites to stay close to the original Regency décor, but despite Albert Pinto’s classic take, technology should be very 21st century. As much as we would love to believe a March completion, the hotel continues to be obscured by scaffolding last we saw, so we’ll say a hopeful June(ish) for reopening?
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.