SW1A 2EJ Travel Guide
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The Royal Horseguards Hotel, on the River Thames
Think the luxury hotel market is crowded enough already? Not so, according to glh. (Global Hotel Company), which is planning to show all the big, established names out there how it is done with a brand new series of luxury hotels: Clermont Hotels.
They will start in one of the hottest markets there is – London – by transforming the Royal Horseguards Hotel into Clermont London, and have Singapore and Kuala Lumpur in the works. That’s just the start in an expansion to 30 properties over the next decade. And there is even more: glh. will be announcing two additional hotel brands in the near future. Feel as overwhelmed as we do? We’ll talk you through how this all came about.
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Strum it, sister
There are hotel amenities, people, and then there are Hotel Amenities. If we’re being bold, we’d venture to say that this fits into the second category.
As we strolled into the Royal Horseguards to take our Wimbledon tea last week, we were greeted by a doorman (ok), a receptionist (totally normal) and then a harpist. Yes, a harpist. Stationed in the corridor by the tea room, strumming her little heart out for the duration of the service.
We actually missed most of her performance as we opted to sit on the terrace outside (nothing against harpists, it was just nice weather) but even without enjoying her to the max, we were thoroughly tickled by her existence. Definitely beats the awkward silence as everyone tries desperately to be posh that you find elsewhere. Game, set and match to the Horseguards.
Game, set, tea time!
You may not have noticed, what with the World Cup and everyfink, but there is another big sporting thing going on at the moment – and it’s altogether more genteel than burly men running round after a ball.
Yes, people, it’s Wimbledon time. And if you’re in London but too busy glued to the football to make it down to SW19, you can get the feel of it by either switching on the telly with a cup of tea and some strawberries and cream (boring) or popping over to the Royal Horseguards on Embankment for a special Wimbledon tea (much more fun).
Last time we heard about the Royal Horseguards in London, it was doing its bit for charity. Now we’re delighted to report it’s doing its bit for us as well, by knocking 30 percent off its rates over the Christmas season.
Stay between December 18 – January 17 and you can get 30 percent off the best available winter room rate. Not only that, but the hotel promises to be “lavishly decorated” over the hols, with a “roaring coal fire” and a “fully trimmed Christmas tree”. Fully trimmed? We thought that was for the turkey only.
The hotel’s bang on the Thames, so you should get an eyeful of the South Bank, which is always dressed up pretty for Christmas. And of course, there’s always the chance of a festive Secret Service ghost if you like that sort of thing.
To book, use code NNN27, and be warned - you'll need to pay up front and the rooms are non-refundable.
Normally when a hotel gets refurbished to the tune of £16 million in London, they try to make their money back by ramping up the price. Not so The Royal Horseguards, on the bank of the Thames. To celebrate its total overhaul, it’s flogging rooms for £129 including breakfast (a saving of over £200 on the rackrate). The offer’s valid March 31, just mention code MMM33.
And once you’re there, keep an eye on your fellow guests – the hotel claims it’s “known for its use by the Secret Service”, as they colonised the eighth floor during the Second World War.
While we can’t guarantee that your guys hang out there still, we do know that it’s just a block from 10 Downing Street, a five minute walk from the Houses of Parliament and round the back of various government buildings. So the chances of you bumping into a politician or a mandarin of some sort must be fairly high. A word of warning, though – ours aren’t as sexy as yours, so don’t expect any John Favreaus around…
Spending £16.3 million (US$26.4 million) on a refurbishment sounds like a fair bit for a 280-room hotel but the Royal Horseguards Hotel in London does seem pretty special.
It's an eighteenth century heritage-listed building and the revamp will include doing up all the rooms with modern techy stuff like free Wifi, iPod docks and plasma TVs, as well as adding a new restaurant and a new lounge.
But it's not really the refurb that gets us going at the Royal Horseguards--we're more interested in checking in to the eighth floor. Apparently it was used by the Secret Service during World War One and we're definitely keen to find some leftover war secrets.
Rates average around $420 at the moment but no word yet on if they'll rise after the renos are finished in (they promise) early 2009.