Showing posts in Hotels

The London List Review: Shangri-La Hotel, at The ShardThe London List

Posted in Hotels, London, London List
By Sam Bathe on 23 Nov 2014

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Since opening just last May, the five-star Shangri-La Hotel at The Shard has already become one of the most iconic and sought-after hotels in all of London. Show the rest of this post…

Location

Located in London Bridge, the Shangri-La Hotel is walking distance from Borough Market and the hip Bermondsey Street, and a stone’s throw from the Underground and National Rail stations. Connected to the Northern and Jubilee lines, reaching the rest of London is quick and easy, while if you arrive into London Bridge by train, hotel staff will greet you on the platform to help with any heavy bags.

But really it’s not about where you are in London, it’s how high up.

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The Shard is the highest building in Western Europe, standing at a remarkable 309.6m (1,016ft) tall. Shangri-La occupies the 35th to 52nd floors, but it takes just 26 seconds in the lift from ground level to the lobby. Taking in all of central London, from Whitehall, to St. Paul’s, to Canary Wharf, with glass panelling on every outer wall, the views of the city are something you’ll never get used to, and never get bored of.

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Rooms

We stayed in an Iconic City View room, on the north-west corner of the building. The rooms are sleek and luxurious, with an exceptional quality of finish and touches of Asian flair. It’s a seamless fusion between refined materials like marble and silk and more contemporary surfaces like wood.

After walking through the entry way which houses a huge two-person cupboard, much of the very generously sized room was an open plan sleeping space. With a sofa to settle in on, every guest is welcomed with a complementary exotic fruit bowl, while a desk at the far end provided the best out-of-office workspace you could ever dream of.

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The ginormous bed, however, was the centrepiece of the room, and makes the most of those amazing views. With binoculars on every desk room, guests are invited to take advantage of the floor-to-ceiling windows and enjoy some of London’s most iconic landmarks; you could spend hours enjoying the the 180-degree view.

But it’s the view in the morning that’s the real sight to behold. Worth the money alone, just lie back in bed, press the button that automatically opens the black-out curtains, and let the sunlight spill in. It’s a magnificent wake-up remedy as you sleepily acclimatise to the views over London.

All of the Shangri-La’s beds are fitted with Frette linen (300 thread count in rooms, 600 thread count in suites and 1,000 in the three Signature Suites) and our bed had one of the most comfortable mattresses I’ve ever slept on. The rooms aren’t left lacking for technology either. Guests can enjoy local or international television on the 46″ LED TVs, plus a JBL sound dock to play music and an iPad to browse the internet or read the free digital newspapers.

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As you might expect the minibar was well-stocked with some of the finest champagnes, spirits and snacks, while there’s also a Chinese tea set and Nespresso machine if you need an afternoon pick-me-up or after-dinner coffee.

One word of warning, if you’re in or next to a corner room, there are quite apparent views through your neighbours’ windows. It’s not the fault of the hotel, but it has led to the building being given the nickname, the “Eyeful Tower”. Every room has privacy blinds if you are worried the room over are seeing a little more than they should.

Bathroom

Our magnificent marble-clad bathroom was the epitome of luxury. Featuring heated floors and a big walk-in shower, the excellent level of finish made freshening up before dinner and showering in the morning a dream. With Acqua Di Parma bathroom products you can leave your shampoo at home, while a TV built into the bathroom mirror means you won’t miss a beat if you have to nip to the loo in the middle of a movie.

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The star of the bathroom, however, was the Toto Washlet toilet. With a heated seat and pop-out shower spray, if you’ve never used a washlet before it’s an unusual experience but you’ll quickly find yourself using it every time you have to visit the bathroom.

Some of the “eyeful” views do include bathrooms, so if you have a window bathroom, you might want to lower the privacy blinds before you de-robe.

Amenities

The Shangri-La Hotel makes great use of its unique views across London for its health and leisure facilities. Up on the 52nd floor, the infinity swimming pool might not run right up to the windows – which is probably a good thing – but you can still gaze down upon St. Paul’s, the London Eye and Westminster from the pool’s edge.

The 11m x 4m pool is a tranquil escape for guests, with staff bringing swimmers exotic fruits salads and cocktails to enjoy poolside; for a real workout you need to head next door into the gym.

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Open 24-hours, jogging in front of such a view was an amazing experience. The 52nd floor gym also offers a full range of cardiovascular equipment, resistance training machines and free weights.

For a little pampering, guests can indulge in spa treatments either in the comfort of their room or in one of the spa residences. The Shangri-La also offers free WiFi throughout the hotel, including in your room, photo processing service, house doctor on call and foreign exchange counter. For events, the Shangri-La Hotel offers three big river-facing rooms.

Restaurant and bars

The Shangri-La’s signature restaurant and lounge is situated on the 35th level. The elegant TĪNG dining hall spans half of the floor, with large tables for a dinner with friends or a romantic evening with your partner.

Subtle Asian influences complement Head Chef Emil Minev’s modern European menu. The dishes at TĪNG are very well executed, with attentive and friendly service from the restaurant staff. A special mention must go to Head Sommelier Anne Lomas, too, for a fantastic range of paired wines alongside each dish.

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We had the Chorizo and Langoustine Risotto and Hand Dived Scallops to start, both of which were delicious. The Fillet Steak and sides were exquisite for our mains too, before more delicate desserts rounded off a fantastic meal. For guests looking to try a number of dishes, TĪNG offers a four-course set menu for a very reasonable £49.

TĪNG is also home to breakfast every morning, putting on a lavish breakfast buffet and À La Carte menu. From an English Breakfast to a fantastic selection of breads and croissants, yogurts and fruits, the buffet also includes Oriental and Arabic options. Favourites like French Toast or Waffles can be ordered from the staff.

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GŎNG, the Shangri-La Hotel’s destination bar, is on the 52nd floor. The highest bar in London, GŎNG hosts a number of intimate chambers, including the main Cocktail Bar, Champagne Bar and Swimming Pool. The talented barmen and women will serve up a number of signature cocktails plus your favourite spirits and champagnes.

The last of the Shangri-La Hotel’s offerings is on the ground floor. An artisan deli and cafe, LÁNG offers a selection of Shangri-La’s renowned signature cakes, home-made chocolates and pastries, plus seasonal hampers and sandwiches to eat in or takeaway.

Verdict

The five-star Shangri-La Hotel at The Shard is an opulent experience, mixing meticulous Asian hospitality with the local character of its all-South London staff.

The hotel’s stunning views over London are unique and the Shangri-La makes the most of them at every opportunity. From jogging overlooking Westminster, to a swim over St. Paul’s, the hotel is an unparalleled experience in all of London. Rooms start at £450 a night, but it’s well worth the money to spring for an Iconic City View room (£600) and enjoy the night looking over central London.

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But the Shangri-La Hotel at The Shard is much more than just a view. The hotel is every bit a five-star experience, with wonderfully helpful staff, an exceptional quality of finish in the rooms and a first-rate restaurant. The 52nd floor swimming pool is the icing on the cake.

The perfect hotel for a special weekend with your partner or a week’s getaway in London, Shangri-La Hotel at The Shard is every bit the memorable experience you expect.

For reservations and more, please visit: www.shangri-la.com/london
Shangri-La Hotel at The Shard, 31 St Thomas Street, London, SE1 9QU

The London List Review: Weekend getaway at Homewood Park Hotel & Spa, BathThe London List

Posted in Hotels, London, London List
By Sam Bathe on 18 Aug 2014

Set within 10 acres of gorgeous parkland and gardens, Homewood Park Hotel & Spa is the perfect, peaceful escape from the city. Show the rest of this post…

Location

Situated six miles outside of the historic city of Bath, Homewood Park is a short drive away from the centre of town. By train, Bath Spa is just an hour and a half from London, plus a quick taxi ride to the hotel or a connecting train to nearby Freshford.

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Bath

Homewood Park is set against the beautiful Limpley Stoke valley but the real draw of the area is of course, Bath. A world-famous spa town, Bath has heritage and history around every corner. From the Royal Crescent and Bath Stone buildings to the museums, theatres and great restaurants, Bath is a hugely romantic city and perfect for both couples and families.

Rooms

Homewood Park has the character of a country farmhouse. Big, homely antique furniture and wood-burning fires in the drawing room make you feel right at home and the charm continues into the rooms.

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The hotel offers 21 individually-designed bedrooms, all with views out onto across the gardens. Our bed was supremely plush and we were out in seconds for a fantastic night’s sleep.

At the end of the bed was a daybed, perfect for getting ready or relaxing in the room, while there was also a large flatscreen TV and desk in case you need to catch up on emails.

Bathroom

Our bathroom was recently renovated with modern fittings and a great shower/bath. The long countertop either side of a big basin was perfect for two people getting ready and a plentiful supply of bathroom products was a real plus too.

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Spa

The spa is undoubtedly the hotel’s jewel in the crown. Free to access for all guests, the spa boasts an outdoor heated swimming pool and indoor hydrotherapy pool, plus sauna and steam room. After a few minutes with a book or relaxing in the pool, all your worries will be gone.

Though the spa doesn’t offer a couples room, two solo treatment rooms and an extensive list of massage treatments, facials, wraps, manicures and pedicures are all available.

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Restaurant

Homewood Park’s restaurant, The Tides, occupies one of the larger rooms on the ground floor. Tables and booths are spread comfortably to allow privacy to dining guests, treated to Head Chef Wojciech Nowalka’s Modern English menu. To start we had the Pan Seared Langoustine, Pork Belly And Apricot Terrine and Caraway and the Sauté Scallop, Creamed leek, Samphire and Béchamel, both of which were excellent. The 6oz Beef Fillet, Mushroom Duxelles, Truffle Pomme Purée and Spinach was more than impressive for main course too, plus some great thick cut chips on the side.

However, the real star of the show was our sensational desert. The Banana Mousse, Roasted White Chocolate, Salted Caramel and Caramelised Banana was unique, clever and utterly delicious, with the thick mousse cut to hold its shape like segments of real banana. The roasted white chocolate was the icing on the cake, cutting through the tart mouse with a moorish, sweet flavour.

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Venue

Homewood Park Hotel & Spa holds a civil marriage or partnership ceremony license and can be booked exclusively for weddings and events. The property boasts three function rooms and can cater for weddings of up to 150 guests, spilling out on to the terrace and private grounds.

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Verdict

Homewood Park Hotel & Spa is the perfect destination for a weekend getaway within the UK. Nearby Bath is a romantic and interesting compact city, with much to do and explore within a relatively small town centre, although you’ll want at least a day to relax and crash out at the spa too.

The homely rooms and shared space were effortlessly welcoming, while fantastic food at the restaurant rounded off a fantastic experience. This is a place to be pampered and get away from the stresses and strains of life in the city.

For reservations and more, please visit: www.homewoodpark.co.uk
Homewood Park Hotel & Spa, Abbey Lane, Freshford, Bath, Somerset, BA2 7TB

The London List Review: The Town Hall HotelThe London List

Posted in Hotels, London, London List
By Sam Bathe on 5 Aug 2014

Within the original – and magnificent – Bethnal Green Town Hall building, lies the latest of hotelier Peng Loh’s fine establishments. Opening its doors in 2010, exactly 100 years on from the property’s first days as a council office, the Town Hall Hotel is a modern, luxury hotel, with all the history and grandeur of old. Show the rest of this post…

Location

An imposing yet reserved structure, the Town Hall Hotel oozes class. Its rectangular building sits perpendicular to the busy Cambridge Heath Road and spanning almost the full length of Patriot Square.

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It is, to be honest, something of an odd location for a luxury hotel. Bethnal Green is an area still a little rough around the edges and the immediate high street fare is dominated by kebab shops and garages. However, you don’t have to go much further for some of the real delights of East London.

Walking distance from Borough Market and London Fields to the north, the plush suburbia of Victoria Park Village and Victoria Park to the east, and Shoreditch and Columbia Road Flower Market (every Sunday) to the west, there plenty to do in the local area. Plus, two of our favourite London restaurants, Hurwundeki (Korean) and Bistrotechque (Modern European), are barely a stone’s throw from the hotel’s front door.

Just a couple of minutes south, Bethnal Green Underground station connects with Liverpool Street, central London and beyond.

Rooms

We stayed in a Studio room and were hugely impressed by the generous floor area and layout of the room. With living space on one side and the bed and bathroom on the other, a hideaway kitchen splits the room into too, acting as a partition.

The living space boasted a mid-century sofa, arm chair, coffee and full dining table, while sliding back the covers on the kitchen structure revealed a full hob, oven, microwave, sink and countertop. For guests enjoying an extended stay or travelling with family, having a kitchen in the room could be of huge benefit, while being able to hide it away is a very smart execution.

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The bed on the other side was just as impressive. A hugely comfy mattress, luxurious pillows and crisp sheets paved the way for a wonderful night’s sleep, and the powerful air-con keeping the room cool despite a surprisingly tropical night in London.

A desk sat at the end of the bed in case you need to set up an office away from the office, though it proved just as handy for turning a laptop the other way around and watching a late night movie under the covers.

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Bathroom

Part of an surprising trend in more modern hotels, the bedroom and bathrooms were only separated by a glass wall, and some rooms don’t have a divider at all. While visually connecting the shower bath with the bedroom might be alluring for a couple, partners would have to be very comfortable with each other to use the toilet in plain sight too.

Luckily there was a curtain which can be pulled across (on the bedroom side) for bathroom privacy.

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Inside the bathroom, the fixtures and fitting were superb. The attention to detail on the finish was hugely impressive while the bath/shower was perfectly suited to both a relaxing soak and a quick morning refresh; the ceiling mounted shower head felt hugely luxurious.

Amenities

Tucked away in the basement, a suave gym and pool are the Town Hall Hotel’s jewel in the crown. Warmly lit by a full length skylight, the pool might not be the biggest but its long and thin shape is still perfect for a few morning lengths or just relaxing in the shallow end. The onlooking gym is perfect if you don’t have your trunks, boasting everything from a treadmill and cross-trainer to a rowing machine and weights.

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Guests can also enjoy free WiFi throughout the hotel, including in their rooms, and free milk and daily newspapers from the lobby. The fantastic original function rooms are available for hire for weddings and meetings too.

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Restaurants and bars

We ate at the Corner Room, the more casual of the Town Hall Hotel’s two restaurants. A cosy, stylish space, the Corner Room seats around 10 parties, maintaining a healthy atmosphere without overpowering your dinner conversation.

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We started the meal with two tasty cocktails, each served in a trendy jam jar, plus some delicious home-baked bread. The menu changes depending on the season and available from local meat, fish and vegetable markets, but we had the John Dory with Cornish Crab and would thoroughly recommended it. But our desert was even better.

Though you might be tempted to share, get one of the Griottines with Honeycomb Ice Cream each; it is magnificent.

If you are looking for a more relaxed dining experience, the Corner Room really fits the bill. The restaurant was not pretentious, and while it suits the style of the hotel perfectly, it is approachable for people who are not guests too. The Corner Room is also home to the breakfast service, including a particularly delicious Vanilla Porridge.

The Typing Room on the ground floor offers a finer dining experience. Starter will set you back £10-£15, while mains are around £20-£25. A seven-course tasting menu is also available.

Finally on the ground floor is the hotel’s cocktail bar, Peg + Patriot. Boasting a smart and inventive cocktail menu, many of the weird and wonderful ingredients and cocktail base alcohols – including tasty nasturtium vodka – are made in-house. The Rice Rice Baby was our favourite of the bunch.

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Verdict

Walking into the lobby, you immediately get a sense of the grandeur and history of the Town Hall Hotel; combining architectural and Art Deco splendour with cutting-edge design. The hotel makes a wonderful first impression and after winning the prestigious RICS London award for Building Conservation, the owner really deserves great credit for maintaining so much of the original ambience and character. But the hotel is so much more than just a wonderful building.

The staff are well-trained, friendly, and forthcoming, while the rooms balance a feeling of luxury and attention to detail with the welcome amenities of home.

Supremely comfortable beds, a fantastic pool in the basement and the lavish breakfast spread really make the Town Hall Hotel the standout hotel in this part of town. It’s the ideal reason to push your comfort zone and see an areas of London visitors might not have previously considered. If you are coming to London for a day or a month, the Town Hall Hotel could be the place for you.

For reservations and more, please visit: www.townhallhotel.com
Town Hall Hotel, Patriot Square, Bethnal Green, London, E2 9NF

The London List Abroad Review: Le Meridien Delfina Santa MonicaThe London List

By Sam Bathe on 6 Jul 2014

Perched just four block away from the beachfront of Los Angeles’ more metropolitan city, Santa Monica, Le Meridien Delfina offers a great vantage over and access to, the big draw of western LA. Show the rest of this post…

Location

Slightly east of the main downtown area, Le Meridien Delfina is perfectly placed to explore all that Santa Monica has to offer. Barely a 10 minute walk to the shops, cinemas, bars and restaurants of the Third Street Promenande, everything in Santa Monica is easily accessible by foot.

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The sandy Santa Monica beach is just as close, spanning miles north past the Palisades and south past Venice to Marina del Rey. For those happy on their feet, walking the beach boardwalk is a must, taking in the famous muscle beach and quirks of Venice beach. Walk back via the gorgeous Venice Canals and Abbot Kinney Boulevard for some of the best shopping in the area.

A stone’s throw from the Santa Monica freeway, it’s easy for drivers to reach wider Los Angeles from Le Meridien Delfina, while local buses also cover the surrounding area. Set for completion in 2015, the Metro Rail Expo line is currently under expansion works to extend the line to reach Santa Monica, taking riders directly into Downtown LA, plus wider Los Angeles via connecting lines.

Rooms

We stayed in an Ocean View Room, on the ninth floor of the hotel. Facing out towards the sea, the room had its own balcony with glorious views of Santa Monica and the Pacific Ocean, perfect for breakfast in your room or a romantic nightcap. Inside, the room was just as impressive.

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With the whole hotel quite recently refurbished, the plush bed and in-room furniture felt luxurious and accommodating. We had a wonderful few nights’ sleep, collapsing into the supremely comfortable king-size bed while the floor to ceiling windows still kept out every murmur of Santa Monica down below.

Oversized, custom headboards made sitting up in bed an excellent alternative to eating out on the balcony, while there was ample cupboard room for clothes, Illy in-room coffee (with takeaway cups) and, of course, a flat screen TV.

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Bathroom

Our modern bathroom was stylish and spacious, featuring a shower-bath and fluffy robes and towels. Wide mirrors and long counter tops mean two can easily share the dressing space, while good quality hotel products mean you can leave your shampoo and shower wash at home.

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Amenities

Le Meridien Delfina Santa Monica really comes into its own with its amenities. In sunny Los Angeles, the Delfina’s pool is popular amongst hotel guests but will never feel overcrowded. Showered with sun throughout the day, the pool isn’t large enough to do lengths but the perfect size for a dip to cool down. For those wanting to enjoy the pool but stay out of the sun, mini-marquees run around the out edge of the space offering guests a covered alternative to sun chairs.

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The hotel’s gym is open 24 hours-a-day and features an excellent range of traditional treadmill and cross-trainer equipment, plus floor space for yoga or stretching and weights for more serious training.

For business travellers, Le Meridien Delfina’s conferencing capabilities are superb. With a number of different sized rooms available for hire, both on the top floor and the upper restaurant area, events of all sizes are catered for. The real jewel in the Delfina’s crown is the Penthouse Ballroom, featuring breathtaking coastal panoramic views and spotless decor. The club room and pool area can also be hired for events and weddings.

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The hotel also offers bike rentals for guests and free Wi-Fi in the lobby downstairs, although disappointingly a fee is charged for internet access in the rooms.

Restaurants

Le Meridien Delfina offers a number of options for guests to dine in the hotel. The Zest Kitchen offers a French-inspired continental breakfast and lunch, including pastries and breads plus a grab+go service for those in a rush.

The Longitude Bar + Restaurant at the back of the lobby also offers a wider selection of continental breakfast and is the hotel’s main restaurant for evening dining. The delicious filet mignon comes recommended, although the chefs were perhaps a little too liberal with a cream sauce.

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Verdict

Le Meridien Delfina is an excellent choice for those wanting to explore the wonderful metropolitan area of Santa Monica. While the beach, shopping and nightlife are just a few minutes walk away, the Delfina is an escape from the hustle and bustle, ensuring a perfect night’s sleep and relaxation by the pool. A room with a sea view and balcony is more than worth the extra expense, while the hotel’s conferencing capabilities make Le Meridien Delfina Santa Monica a standout choice for business travellers too.

For reservations and more, please visit: www.lemeridiendelfina.com
Le Meridien Delfina Santa Monica, 530 Pico Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90405

The London List Abroad Restaurant Review: Odyssey at Hotel Métropole Monte-CarloThe London List

By Sam Bathe on 5 Jul 2014

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Playground of the rich and famous, bite-sized principality Monaco welcomes guests to enjoy the finer things in life, and lapping up the sights and sounds of the French Riviera, the Hotel Métropole is at the heart of the bustling Monte Carlo Quarter. Show the rest of this post…

Step through the grand triumphal arch and down the long, lush driveway, however, and you hit seclusion. Like a scene from a classic riviera film, the luxurious hotel building sits ahead, home to a new Joël Robuchon creation – and Karl Lagerfeld-designed poolside space – al fresco dining restaurant, Odyssey.

The hotel

This summer celebrating it’s 10th anniversary after reopening in 2004 as the Hotel Métropole Monte-Carlo, the building first opened its doors in 1886. Built on land previously belonging to Pope Leon XIII, the Belle Époque-inspired interiors were designed by Jacques Garciabring, bringing a stylish and luxurious atmosphere to the hotel. It’s not flashy and pretentious – the books in the library room are real and to be read, the tapestries on the wall are authentic and of the time – but what the hotel sets out to achieve, it does in truly the best way possible, going beyond what you’d expect, even of a five-star hotel.

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Within walking distance of the famous Casino, the Hotel Métropole is popular all-year-round, welcoming high-powered businessmen and women, celebrities and film shoots, even a retreat for a handful of high-level employees at Twitter while we at the hotel. The spa is world-renowned for tailor-made treatments and several of the hotel rooms and balcony spaces even overlook the Monaco Grand Prix racing track, though that weekend also brings a steep hike in the nightly rates.

In total the hotel offers 133 rooms, including 64 suites and a 1,302-square-foot penthouse, plus the 80-retailer strong Métropole Shopping Centre located in the commercial gallery of the building.

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The restaurants

The heritage of the Hotel Métropole carries through to its plentiful dining options. Entrusting responsibility to the very capable hands of the multiple Michelin-starred Joël Robuchon, the hotel offers guests three enticing restaurants.

A fine dining menu, Joël Robuchon Monte-Carlo is the winner of two Michelin stars, while the Michelin-starred Yoshi is Robuchon’s first ever Japanese restaurant.

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We ate at the latest of Joël Robuchon’s ventures for the hotel, Mediterranean al fresco experience, Odyssey, located on the pool terrace at the front of the Métropole.

Normally reserved exclusively for hotel guests and members of the spa, this summer the hotel will also be welcoming non-resident guests until September 6th, every evening from 7.30pm. It is perfect too for breakfast and seasonal lunches throughout the peak summer months.

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Designed by legendary fashion designer, artist, and photographer, Karl Lagerfeld, the striking Odyssey dining area features his signature black and white colour palette. Beside the pool – though you needn’t worry about splashing or noisy kids – the open air space makes for the dream location to enjoy a lazy lunch and a couple of cocktails before retiring to a sun lounger.

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A long mural by Lagerfeld illustrating the mythological Journey of Ulysses acts as a backdrop to the space, featuring several of his modern day muses superimposed onto a archive photograph of a Greek coast taken in the 1850s.

From autumn to spring, the pool is transformed into a luxurious, heated indoor space, maintaining Lagerfeld’s iconic style.

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Food

Joël Robuchon’s fresh Mediterranean menu is inspired by by local cultures and flavours, with France, Spain, Greece, Italy and even Lebanon all influencing his dishes.

We started with a traditional Salad Niçoise. Served at the table from a big salad bowl, the lettuce was so fresh it was like it was just picked from the hotel’s own garden plot and the big flaky of tuna was off the boat and straight in the pan. Bright, bold red tomatoes, local olives and quarters of a sun yellow boiled egg were the perfect garnish. It was the best Salad Niçoise we’d ever eaten, something that would become a theme over the course of the lunch.

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For main course we had the steak. Served skewered, the three cuts of meat were grilled to perfection, accompanied by new potatoes and sun-dried tomatoes. The steak had a smokey flavour but was cooked to perfection, effortlessly tender and flavoursome. The local sun-dried tomatoes were delicious too, and it was impressive how much the kitchen stressed the smaller details of each dish.

For desert we had the fruit salad, but couldn’t have imagined just how impressive it would be. Brought to the table in numerous bowls, both local and exotic fruits prepared ready to serve, each fruit salad is mixed at the table according to diners’ preferences. An array of ice creams, custards, compotes and sauces are also brought to the table to finish the dish. The only problem will be when you can’t eat any more.

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The food is unpretentious but what they do is with real excellence. It won’t be the first time you have these dishes, but they’ll probably the best iteration you’ve ever had. I really never knew a fruit salad could be so remarkable.

Drinks

The drinks menu at Odyssey matches the food in both quality and care. Before wines with our meal, I had a fantastic Old Fashioned, with tumblr of boozy, candied cherries on the side.

The restaurant carries a wealth of spirits and the skilled barmen are able to concoct any cocktail for you, even if it isn’t on the menu. A carefully collated selection of high calibre wines and champagne including vintage Dom Pérignon are available too.

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Verdict

While the Hotel Métropole Monte-Carlo comes highly recommended, al fresco restaurant Odyssey deserves praise in its own right too. The luxurious setting make dining a unique experience, and though the menu isn’t as experimental as Joël Robuchon’s fine dining restaurant at the hotel, it is one of supreme accomplishment, each dish is the very best iteration of well known classics and homely favourites. What’s more, each summer it will now be open to the public, including a destination cocktail bar too.

For more information about the hotel and restaurant, and to make a reservation or booking enquiry, please visit: www.metropole.com

Odyssey at Hotel Métropole Monte-Carlo, 4 Avenue de la Madone, BP 19, Monte-Carlo, 98007, Monaco

The London List Abroad Review: The Standard, HollywoodThe London List

By Sam Bathe on 11 May 2014

The Standard, Hollywood, shouldn’t need an introduction. One of the most iconic hotels in the world and part of a brand that has become a bastion of cool, the boutique hotel has glamour running through its veins, with the likes Leonardo DiCaprio, Cameron Diaz and Benicio del Toro all early investors. Show the rest of this post…

Location

Originally built in 1962 as the Thunderbird Motel, The Standard, Hollywood, retained its vintage look and sits right in the heart of West Hollywood. Walking distance to the restaurants, bars and clubs of the Sunset Strip, The Standard, Hollywood, is equally well connected to go further afield.

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Just short drive to Hollywood, Beverly Hills, Century City or the La Brea area, while the Metro Rail from Hollywood and Highland links north to Studio City and south the Downtown LA and beyond.

In expansive LA, it’s a blessing to have some much to do on your doorstep. Amoeba Music and the ArcLight Cinema sit further along Sunset Boulevard, while Opening Ceremony and the stores of Melrose Avenue and The Grove are to the south.

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Rooms

We stayed in an X-Large room, and though the expansive floor space was relatively sparsely filled with furniture, the space really worked. Like walking onto the set of Mad Men, the midcentury inspired king-size bed was a dream while a daybed sofa was perfect for lounging in front of the big TV.

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Thanks to the famous billowing walls, most rooms comes with a balcony and views of the pool or city skyline. We’d recommend asking for a room facing downtown LA as though the pool area is gorgeous, on weekends and some evenings, it can get be a little loud.

If you’ve packed 100 outfits, never fear, the big wardrobes will swallow even the biggest of suitcases with space to hang and shelves to pile upon.

The smaller rooms still feel luxurious so if you’re on a tighter budget, don’t feel like you’re missing out too much, though if you can splurge on a suite the wraparound balconies are magnificent.

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Bathroom

The bathroom was the real showpiece of our room. With delightful orange faucets and a Hollywood mirror, the playful bathroom was split with a walkthrough basin area and shower and toilet wet room. A hand hole to turn the shower on without getting wet and a towel rail within reaching distance were both thoughtful touches.

The robes and fluffy towels were both good enough to take home too.

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Amenities

You could come to The Standard, Hollywood, and not make it out of the hotel for a couple of days. The famous pool has become a place to be seen in LA, and while at weekends it’s flooded with scenesters and some pretty amusing Hollywood couples, midweek it’s an idyllic paradise.

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You could sneak in a few laps early morning, but the pool is more of a cool off and hang out spot, perfect for the hot Californian summer. With pool-side service and a tempting cocktail menu, hours fly by in the big sun loungers.

Throughout the hotel, including your room, it was great to hear the hotel offers free WiFi. The speed, however, was borderline unusable, and a paid premium connection didn’t prove much better. The speed is just about good enough to do some last minute day planning, but anything more, like streaming late night Netflix or Skyping with back home, is out of the question.

The overstocked minibars somewhat made up for it. Filling the fridge with tempting champagne and liquors, a box sitting on top boasted everything you might have forgotten, including an exclusive Harry’s shaving kit, popping candy chocolate bars and gifts for back home in case you forget to pick something up.

Restaurant

If you’ve ever dined at a Standard Hotel restaurant you’ll know how tempting the room service menu will be. While we didn’t dine in The Standard, Hollywood’s, diner-style restaurant for dinner, we did have it ordered to our room, and it was the best room service of our lives.

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Open 24/7, the modern American menu is exquisite and our Grilled Pork Chop and side of Roasted Baby Carrots were a delight. The room service tray came with the cutest little bottle of Tabasco sauce too.

Though their Lemon Ricotta Pancakes for breakfast were disappointing, a Turkey Reuben by the pool made up for it, and we’d wholly recommend dining at the hotel whether you’re staying there or not.

The Standard, Hollywood, bar and poolside patio is great to catch up with friends or while away an evening.

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Verdict

There are quirks at The Standard, Hollywood, that I’ll admit I don’t get. ‘The Box’ art exhibit in the lobby is glass box built into the wall where a model sits every evening and does what they see fit. But The Standard, Hollywood, has built its reputation on bold moves.

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While the rooms don’t offer the all-out luxury of some hotels in the same price bracket, the ambience of The Standard, Hollywood, is difficult to beat and it’s a real place to be in LA.

To experience what Hollywood is all about, you can’t go wrong, while the pool and restaurant will make staying in all that more tempting. The Standard, Hollywood, has an energy you can’t beat and it’s impossible to leave without having bundles of fun. Plus people watching by the pool every Sunday is one of the best activities around.

For reservations and more, please visit: www.standardhotels.com/hollywood
The Standard, Hollywood, 8300 Sunset Blvd, West Hollywood, CA 90069

The London List Review: Ace Hotel LondonThe London List

Posted in Hotels, London, London List
By Sam Bathe on 5 May 2014

Opening its doors shortly before the fall, hipster hotel chain Ace Hotel made its long awaited debut in London last September. Arriving with a stellar reputation thanks to already iconic residences in Portland and New York, Ace are known for their trendsetting style and even trendier clientele. Show the rest of this post…

Location

Situated on Shoreditch High Street, Ace Hotel London is at the heart of East London’s Shoreditch. Known as a nightlife hotspot with some of the best restaurants, bars and clubs London has to offer, Shoreditch is also home to great shopping streets and walking distance to tourist spot, Brick Lane.

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In between a number of Underground and Overground stations, getting around from the Ace Hotel London couldn’t be easier. Barely a 10 minute walk to either Old Street or Liverpool Street Tube stops and the equally well connected Shoreditch High Street Overground, when you want to venture out of E1, you’ll be able to get where you want to go in no time.

Rooms

The hip and modern design of the rooms will feel at home for anyone who has stayed at an Ace before. With a huge, comfy bed in the middle the rooms, the minimal style keeps the rooms feeling spacious and airy. The inviting blue patchwork APC bedspreads are an exclusive for Ace Hotel London and make you want to tear back the covers and jump right in.

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A feature at Ace Hotels worldwide, alongside room service and mini bar menus is a price list for all the items in the room, and if you fancy the waffle robes, aforementioned bedspread or even the record player, just pack them up when you leave and charge the fee to your room. It’s a little strange at first, but when you think about it, it’s actually quite a clever idea. I couldn’t count on one hand the number of times I’ve wished I was able to take something from a plush hotel room back with me.

Elsewhere in the rooms, comfy sofas mean you can crash in front of the TV without having to get into bed, while swish tables are perfect for your own mini office or eating breakfast in your room.

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Bathroom

There’s no doubt Ace Hotel London spent a lot of money refurbishing the bathrooms, and it shows. With the floors in a sleek black tile, all en suites feature a bath and copious amounts of Ace-branded products from a bottle on the wall.

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The bathrooms feel pleasantly serious and complement the style of the rooms and rest of the hotel perfectly.

Amenities

The hotel offers free WiFi throughout the hotel, including in your room, and though it isn’t spectacularly fast, it’s enough for browsing the internet and catching up on emails. There’s a wonderfully long work bar in the lobby too, if you want to plug in your laptop or whip out a newspaper.

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The common space throughout the hotel is a dream. Expansive and relaxing, the lobby in particular is perfect if you’re meeting a friend or need a space for a meeting. If you want to kick things up a notch, the hotel offers a 24-hour gym in the basement. Boasting a rowing machine, two treadmills, two cycling machines and a sauna, it might not be the biggest space but it is certainly well equipped. There is also a florist on the ground floor.

Restaurants and bars

Hotel restaurant, Hoi Polloi, is the brainchild of the team behind Bistroteque and located on the lower ground floor. Serving a fashionably British menu with some modern American additions, Hoi Polloi has something of a party atmosphere with large groups all around sharing plates and having fun. The dishes have touches of experimental fine dining but are, on the whole, homely and rich with flavour. We’d recommend the deserts too, with dishes like Poached Rhubarb and Rum and Raison Rice Pudding proving too tempting to ignore.

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Hoi Polloi also offer a fantastic midnight supper menu, open until 1am from Thursdays through Saturdays, and 24-hour room service for hotel guests. Return for breakfast for the sweet or savoury ricotta pancakes and their energising juices.

On the ground floor of the hotel is a cafe and bar, making great use of the communal and gallery spaces, while the (thoroughly sound-proofed) basement bar is a bit more lively with DJs until late.

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Verdict

There’s no doubt Ace Hotel London hangs it hat on its style, but the hotel is also extremely comfortable and welcoming, with helpful concierge staff, an excellent restaurant and happening bars. There’s no doubt the hotel caters for a more cosmopolitan crowd, but that’s Ace through and through, and in the heart of Shoredtich, they shouldn’t do it any other way.

For reservations and more, please visit: www.acehotel.com/london
Ace Hotel London, 100 Shoreditch High Street, London, E1 6JQ

The London List Review: The Grazing Goat HotelThe London List

Posted in Hotels, London, London List
By James Massoud on 1 May 2014

Tucked away from the hustle and bustle of Oxford Street, behind Marble Arch Underground station, is The Grazing Goat, a charming pub-come-hotel. Boasting a country-style interior of wooden walls and quaint log fires, the hotel has a Nordic feel, while taxidermy on the walls certainly provides personality. Show the rest of this post…

There are eight hotel rooms to stay in, we enjoyed the superior room on the top floor, although a bit of exercise is required to climb those stairs to the sixth floor as there isn’t a lift. There are numerous objects and pieces of furniture that catch the eye in the rooms. A balance of the quirky and the stylish, from the miniature Alice in Wonderland-type chair in the corner to a high-end Bang & Olufsen telephone on a side-table. The high double-bed was comfortable and cosy and perfect for couples, while you can look forward to a delicious morning coffee from the cute little cafetiere in each room.

One of the most attractive features in the hotel room though, is the huge Victorian bath that stands proudly on well-crafted vintage legs. After a day spent in the city it’s the ideal luxury to come back to, to allow tired muscles to soak and relax.

The dining area/public house has a really great vibe. The staff are smiley, super friendly and very engaging and there’s an impressive selection of cocktails to try; go for the Scottish Mojito and the Grazing Zombie. The gastro-style menu is equally impressive with some really mouth-watering dishes. The restaurant may lean towards the pricey side a little but the food is worth it. Breakfast, too, is delicious. A hearty, wonderfully-cooked Full English by the fire is a really delightful way to start any day.

The Grazing Goat has it all: charm, character, style, eccentricity and taste. It’s a lovely choice for those looking for a stay in an old-school inn with a modern-day look.

For reservations and more, please visit: www.thegrazinggoat.co.uk
The Grazing Goat, 6 New Quebec Street, London, W1H 7RQ

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The London List Review: Lancaster London HotelThe London List

Posted in Hotels, London, London List
By James Massoud on 1 May 2014

Upon arrival at the perfectly located Lancaster London Hotel in central London, guests are welcomed by a calming scent of lavender, an unexpected yet welcoming treat to the senses. This is immediately followed by warm smiles from the receptionists who are hospitable, friendly and enthusiastic to make the stay as pleasant for their guests as possible. Show the rest of this post…

We were fortunate enough to stay on the 18th – and top – floor, with Hyde Park for a back garden and sprawling city skyline views that are a sight to behold. The hotel’s location adjacent to Hyde Park is perfect for a romantic stroll while there is also a Barclays Bike spot at the foot of the hotel for an easy option to explore the area. Shoppers will also rejoice at being but a ten-minute walk away from the delights of Oxford Street.

Our double room was spacious and clean with little touches like complimentary Turkish delight on arrival that don’t go unnoticed. Robes neatly folded on the bed and slippers awaiting tired feet, were very welcome respites when returning to the room in the evening after a tiring day out. It certainly helped that the double bed was exceedingly comfortable too, making for a wonderful night’s sleep. Should you wish to order a late night tipple and/or a midnight cheeseburger, rest assured that room service is 24-hours.

The Lancaster London boasts two in-house restaurants; Island Grill and Nipa. The former is – as the name suggests – a grill that specialises in food from the land and sea. The fish is delicious and freshly caught by fishermen on day boats on the coastlines of Kent and Sussex. For the romantics, however, we’d thoroughly recommend Thai restaurant Nipa. Managed by Kaseam Jongpitakrat, the restaurant was named after the owner’s wife – Nipa – and overlooks the luscious green of Hyde Park. The food is authentic and expertly prepared by Head Chef, Nongyao Thoopchoi, and her team.

Classy and relaxed, the Lancaster London is a superb London choice, whether it’s for a special occasion or for a simple mini-break, whether you live in the city or not.

For reservations and more, please visit: www.lancasterlondon.com
Lancaster London, Lancaster Terrace, London, W2 2TY

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The London List Review: Great Northern HotelThe London List

Posted in Hotels, London, London List
By Sam Bathe on 26 Apr 2014

Reopening last Spring after a £42m, five-year renovation, the Great Northern Hotel couldn’t be any more deserving of the word ‘great’ in its name. A unique and exquisite luxury boutique hotel, the Great Northern Hotel is a calm oasis amid the hustle and bustle of King’s Cross and St. Pancras International stations. Show the rest of this post…

Location

One of the world’s historic railway hotels, the Great Northern Hotel has been an intrinsic part of King’s Cross station since is was built in 1854. Now incorporated into the recent redevelopment of the station, the Great Northern Hotel sits proudly aside the magnificent frontage of King’s Cross, overlooking the new pedestrianised square. Not that you’d know it in the rooms as you can’t hear but a peep from the station and trains below.

The proximity to King’s Cross and St. Pancras International stations makes the Great Northern Hotel the most connected hotel in London. On six Underground lines, Thameslink and National Rail, it’s easy for tourists and business travellers alike to reach all corners of London and the UK, while St. Pancras International connects to Paris and central Europe beyond.

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By foot, guests are just 10 minutes walk from Angel, Euston or Russell Square, and in under half an hour you could walk to Shoreditch, Oxford Street or Camden.

The King’s Cross area has improved a lot over the last 10 years and is in the midst of a regeneration scheme itself. New restaurants and bars are opening regularly in the area, seen as an exciting and safe neighbourhood, both day and night.

Building

Carefully renovating the original architecture, the hotel exterior was also given a new lease of life as part of the £42m makeover. The building is a long, sweeping arc, holding its own alongside the gothic structures of St. Pancras and imposing industrial frontage of King’s Cross.

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The wide and utterly majestic, sweeping hallways span the full length of the hotel building, with a keycard required to enter each floor for safety.

Rooms

We stayed in a Cubitt room, the largest of the three types. With big sash windows on two sides of the room, the space is flooded by natural light and feels perfectly spacious. The colour palette of olive green and cream is confident and elegant as the room oozed class.

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All of the rooms feature bespoke furniture which fits the space perfectly, including a fantastically comfortable king bed at its core. There isn’t acres of space to unpack but a slim built-in cupboard to hang items and shelves for folded clothes will be more than enough for most travellers.

The real test was in our sleep, and we got a fantastic night’s rest.

The two other room types are Wainscot; featuring Black American Walnut Wainscot panelling and a darker palette to create a real sanctuary of sleep away from the bustle of London’s streets, and Couchette; inspired by traditional railway carriage sleepers and with a seating and bedside space built into the end of the bed.

Bathroom

The en-suite in every room features either a luxurious roll-top bath – so deep it feels like you could stand and the water would still come up to your waist – or a walk-in shower – most of which are a ‘party shower’ with two shower heads and heaps of room to share the space with your partner(s). The attention to detail and quality of the fixtures and fitting is marked, and you can really feel the care given to the bathrooms.

Robes are waffles rather than towel and the bathroom products are all from Malin + Goetz.

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Amenities

Although you wouldn’t necessarily expect a pool and spa from a boutique hotel of this size, no gym within the building was a bigger miss. Facilities elsewhere, however, were excellent.

Available in your room and throughout the hotel, ultra-fast 500Mb WiFi is free for all guests plus an in-room entertainment package to rival an international flight. Offering over 70 films to stream on-demand for free and 96 TV channels including Sky (and Sky Sports) and international channels from across the world, if you do stay in, there’s plenty to keep you entertained.

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The real revelation is the pantry on each floor. With newspapers and magazines for guests to take back to their rooms, the hotel’s excellent kitchen delivers a homemade cake every day at 4pm. Add to that, a Nespresso machine that makes remarkably good coffees, this is such a good idea it really should be the hotel norm. There’s a mini Nespresso machine and mini-bar in every room too.

Plum + Spilt Milk restaurant

The Great Northern Hotel’s restaurant, Plum + Spilt Milk is the vision of Michelin-starred chef, Mark Sergeant, and deserves to be heralded as its own successful venture.

Feeling something like the sister to Bob Bob Ricard – our favourite restaurant in London – both the decor, food and drinks give the Soho restaurant a run for its money.

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Offering elegant British dishes with touches of extravagance and creativity, the menu feels homely and up to date. While it is certainly a fine dining experience, little touches like more modern background music, not stuffy jazz, and gorgeous menus and crockery design make all the difference. If you are dining there in the evening we would highly recommend the loin of venison, sharing the honey roasted parsnips and buttered mash on the side.

The dining room itself is spread out, with a long sweeping structure running almost the full length of the room and providing seating for tables on either side. Generous tables with oversized – and fantastically comfortable – seating fill the galleys on either side, with more than ample space between parties.

Guests are invited down for breakfast and it’s a fantastic way to start the day. The coffee and freshly-squeezed juices are both great and we had the refreshing fresh fruit salad and the particularly delicious brioche French toast, with fresh berries and crème fraîche.

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The hotel also offers two bars, a larger bar downstairs also offering a select menu and open to the public, and a more private, smaller bar adjoining the restaurant upstairs. The bars offer a pleasantly small cocktail list – think 10 cocktails over two pages rather than 50 cocktails over five – and the Northern Soul in particular went down very, very easily. We’d recommend a couple of romantic drinks after dinner to really cap off a great evening. You can read our full review of Plum + Spilt Milk here.

Verdict

We really don’t have a bad word to say about the Great Northern Hotel and were really blown away by the attention to detail and quality of the experience. While it would be nice if the hotel offered a gym, it’s really just the smallest of niggles and the ambience and railway-inspired look and feel of the hotel is spot on. The £42m renovation was as thorough as that figure might suggest; they haven’t cut a single corner and it really paid off. We couldn’t have been any more impressed by the rooms, restaurant and more.

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Originally built in 1854 to serve customers of the Great Northern Rail Company, the Great Northern Hotel has the heritage and class to be truly regarded as one of the absolute finest best hotels in London. As a guest, the hotel feels grand but on a personal scale. Like the staff will know you by name but you still have all the wonder and wow factor of something so much bigger.

The fantastic transport connections might mean the Great Northern Hotel is seen as somewhere for one- or two-night business travellers and as a Eurostar stopgap. If I were in London holidaying for a week or more, however, I couldn’t think of anywhere I’d rather stay than here. The hotel is perfect for those who live in London and want a romantic and idyllic getaway from home too.

Ask for a room at the end of the southern wing, with fantastic views over King’s Cross Square and the skyline of central London.

The Great Northern Hotel is magnificent hotel for the luxuriant traveller and a peaceful haven away from bustling London below, it couldn’t come more highly recommended.

For reservations and more, please visit: www.gnhlondon.com
Great Northern Hotel, King’s Cross St. Pancras Station, Pancras Road, London, N1C 4TB

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FAN THE FIRE is a digital magazine about lifestyle and creative culture. Launching back in 2005 as a digital publication about Sony’s PSP handheld games console, we’ve grown and evolved now covering the arts and lifestyle, architecture, design and travel.

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