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The view from Park Plaza Westminster Bridge
Summer. Remember that? You will if you’re in the UK right now, because it’s basking in heat, sunlight, all that good stuff that you normally wouldn’t expect
ever till August.
Now is the perfect time to take a staycation, but UK hotels are notoriously expensive. Step forward Park Plaza, which has produced a 30 percent discount code for their UK hotels.
Hotels Doing Good / Hotel Charities / SleepSmart / myhotels / Park Plaza Hotels / London Hotels / → All Tags
Stuart Johnson of Brown's and Willy Bauer, owner of The Arch. Doing good in the seat of British power.
We’re not the types to need much of an excuse to book a hotel stay, but if you are, here’s a pretty unbeatable one – you can stay in a nice hotel and do your bit for charity at the same time.
Yesterday saw the return of the UK-based SleepSmart initiative. A spin off of the wildly successful restaurant scheme, StreetSmart, if you stay at a participating hotel from now until 31 December, you’ll be offered the opportunity to add £1 to your bill.
That £1 goes directly to the StreetSmart homeless charity. And we mean directly – sponsors Deutsche Bank cover the admin costs, so every penny gets to the people who need it.
There’s a great little roster of hotels taking part this year – the full list is here, but they include myhotels, Brown’s, The Arch, The Landmark, and the Avo in London, with myhotel Brighton, Park Plaza Nottingham and the Lowry covering outside the capital. All very good, but we’re actually surprised/disappointed that there aren’t more. It’s not like it’s much to ask of your guests, right? Still, all the more incentive to book with the ones that support it.
Rihanna, Gaga and Stefani. In liquid form.
Don’t know if you’ve heard, but there’s something really huge going on in London right now. That’s right – the build up to London Fashion Week! LFW isn’t actually till 16 September, but that hasn’t stopped Park Plaza hotels getting the drinks in – which, incidentally, is just the kind of preparation we like.
Somewhat weirdly, the cocktails are named after Lady Gaga, Rihanna and Gwen Stefani, which makes you think they’d have been better off pegging them around the summer music festivals, but apparently are because the three have “all whipped up a storm in the fashion world.” Not that we’ll quibble, seeing as they sound rather nice.
The Glass of Gaga mixes blue curacao and white chocolate liqueur with a piece of dragon fruit on top, the Sake Stefani blends melon and strawberry liqueurs with sake and prosecco, and the CaipRihanna pitches fresh strawberry bits into passion fruit liqueur lime, passion fruit and Sagatiba (the strawberry echoing RiRi’s red hair, appaza.
Whilst most other London hotels are upping their rates for the Royal Wedding, Park Plaza Hotels are bucking the trend by ffering guests a free night on April 29th, the wedding night. And we thought Camp Royale was cheap!
There is a sort of pre-nup to sign however. Guests must stay (and pay) for four nights to qualify for the free night. But with room rates from £89 per night it's not that bad a value.
There are six Park Plaza Hotels in London but the Royal Package is only available at the Park Plaza Westminster Bridge, the Park Plaza County Hall and the Park Plaza Riverbank. All of which are situated only ten minutes away from the Royal Parade route and close to the tourist attractions of Big Ben, Westminster and the London Eye. (That's a view from one of the suites at the Westminster Bridge hotel where regular rooms start at £109.00 a night.)
To book your stay, head over to the Park Plaza website and quote the promotion code of “Royal” when booking.
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The 25th Lesbian & Gay Film Fest rolls into London at the end of the month, officially kicking off on March 31st. Most of the events are based at the British Film Institute on the South Bank so unless you want to waste time travelling we'd suggest you stay in a hotel close by.
Here's our pick of the bunch:
Park Plaza Westminster Bridge
The Park Plaza Westminster Bridge is just over a year old and houses one of the best hotel restaurants in London, Brassiere Joel. We went snooping inside last year and whilst there isn’t much natural light in the public areas, most of the rooms have full length windows with views over Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament. Rates start at £154 per night but be sure to request a room with views over the River.
Tune Hotel Westminster
Tune Hotel Westminster
If you’re strapped for cash we suggest you hole up in the Tune Hotel Westminster. When we stayed last year we were so impressed we named it “Budget Heaven”, even with all of the add on extras. Make no mistake though, the Tune is not a 5-star hotel, but if you’re looking for a cheapie, it’s a steal. Room rates start at £26 a night.
Hotel Renovations / London Hotels / London Hotel Openings / Royal Wedding Hotels / Park Plaza Hotels / → All Tags
As we predicted in the run up to the London 2012 Olympics, the old hotels are going all out with their Hotel Renovations. The latest hotel to announce a full on facelift is the St Ermins Hotel Westminster.
The three-star hotel is currently closed for four-months, whilst it gets a £30 million pound refurb which will see it re-open as a luxury, four-star hotel on April 4th. Not-so-coincidentally, that's just in time for the Royal Wedding and this will actually be the closest hotel to Westminster Abbey where the wedding is taking place.
We just hope they don’t triple their rates like the other hotels.
It's been seven months since the Park Plaza Westminster Bridge hotel opened and when we found ourselves in the area the other day, we thought we'd pop in for a snoop around. And whilst we were at it, try out the cocktails and food.
Inside the ground floor, two escalators lead up to the reception area. The decor has a black and red theme with low lighting throughout. Even in the day time it feels a little like a nightclub as there isn't much natural light about. The bar which was jumping in the evening, has a good selection of cocktails. We tried the Vino Vito and Vanilla Crème Brulee and both went down a treat.
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What do you like to watch when kicking back in your hotel room? For us, football and ESPN tops the list but according to stats, the guests of Park Plaza Hotels love to order The Shawshank Redemption on demand, and enjoy the prison drama with a slice of pizza and a can of Red Bull.
Or, as the Ottawa Citizen put it: "Forget about what you see in the movies. The average hotel guest does not order Champagne and eggs Benedict while watching the latest big-budget epic by James Cameron."
For the rest of the week, we'll be focusing on the latest news out of Londontowne. Got a hotel we should check out or know of any tawdry London hotel scoop? Or better yet, got the skinny on where all the WAGs hang out? Tip us off.
Park Plaza had planned to demolish The Foundry to build an 18-storey, 350-room hotel and retail complex housed in a diamond shaped building. But they clearly underestimated the public’s attachment to the venue in Shoreditch, East London. The Foundry was a well loved centre for music, art and design with a strong following and even has its own Banksy. Park Plaza have assured the concerned community that art scene will stay put thus the art’otel. (There's already a few art'otels in Europe if you want to check them out.)
Work should have already started on the hotel but it seems the group of squatters have other ideas.
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Andaz Liverpool Street may have started the whole fake garden thing with its Summer Garden last year, but looks like for 2010, Park Plaza County Hall has gone one better – because their new Urban Garden is actually outside.
It’s on a terrace on the second floor, and just in case you were worried about missing the World Cup while you’re outside (it’s not much of a view – nearby houses, although you can see the top of the London Eye), fear not – because the terrace is linked to the Executive Lounge, where there’s a 60-in TV that’ll be showing all the games. So you can nip in and out as you dare.
It’s a bit of a niche offer, this one, but if you happen to be running the London Marathon this Sunday, there’s a sweet deal going down at Park Plaza hotels for your recuperation period.
Bring your medal (wot, you have to finish it?) to the spa at PPs Baker Street, Victoria or County Hall, and they’ll knock 20 percent off a sports massage or a ‘destress muscle release’ massage, meaning you can get 30 minutes for £28 or an hour for £52 (and less than £1 a minute by London rates is pretty good).
At least the views are good, and they won’t be changing
There are issues with parking (well, it is in London), breakfast (the restaurant’s not big enough and the food isn’t good), fire alarms going off at night and smelly bathrooms.