Lon­don Ho­tel Op­tions, From Bud­get to Deluxe

The city of­fers a wide range of lodg­ing choices, pack­aged or a la carte. And you can’t al­ways go by price.

The Washington Post Sunday - - Europe 2007 -

When I re­cently booked an air-and­lodg­ing pack­age to Lon­don, travel provider Go-to­day.com of­fered a choice of 18 ho­tels in six lev­els, from “bud­get” to “su­pe­rior deluxe” — with cor­re­spond­ing up­grades in ameni­ties and cost.

Just how bad is rock bot­tom? My main con­cerns were clean­li­ness and prox­im­ity to the Tube — and my snug room at the bud­get-cat­e­gory My Place Ho­tel, near the Earl’s Court sta­tion in West Lon­don, passed the test. (See be­low for de­tails.) Then, to get a bet­ter sense of what the other op­tions were, a col­league and I checked out the rest of the lodg­ings on Go-to­day’s list, tour­ing guest rooms, in­spect­ing pub­lic fa­cil­i­ties, speak­ing with guests and judg­ing the ho­tel’s gen­eral up­keep and lo­ca­tion. As most of th­ese ho­tels pop up in both pack­age and ho­tel-only searches on Ex­pe­dia.com, Or­b­itz.com and other sites, the list gives a good idea of what’s out there in the Lon­don pack­age deal world.

All prop­er­ties have private baths, and con­ti­nen­tal break­fast is gen­er­ally in­cluded when the room is booked as part of a pack­age. The pack­age price quoted is Go-to­day’s air-ho­tel price from Wash­ing­ton for a four-night stay last month, per per­son dou­ble. The roomonly price is a rate we found through Web searches for a dou­ble room at the prop­erty for a Satur­day-night stay next month, not as part of a pack­age deal.


— Anne McDonough K Apollo Ho­tel, 64 Queens­bor­ough Ter­race (Bayswa­ter)

Pack­age price: $719. Room-only price per night: $113 (found on Or­b­itz.com).

De­tails: There’s lit­tle charm at this 46room ho­tel, lo­cated on a West Lon­don street lined with other small ho­tels and a hos­tel. The lobby’s green mar­ble floors give way to dreary dark flo­ral car­pet­ing in the res­i­den­tial part of the build­ing. Try to avoid get­ting a room on the ground floor, as they’re the small­est and seemed dark. The best thing the Apollo has go­ing for it is that it’s just a few min­utes’ walk to Kens­ing­ton Gar­dens, and get­ting to the heart of town is easy on the Cen­tral, Dis­trict and Cir­cle lines via the nearby Queensway or Bayswa­ter Tube sta­tions. There’s no In­ter­net on-site for guests.

Info: 011-44-20-7727-3066, apol­lo­ho­tel@ bt­in­ter­net.com. K My Place Ho­tel, 1-3 Tre­bovir Rd. (Earls Court)

Price: $739. Room-only price: $221 (Ex­pe­dia.com, Ho­tels.com).

De­tails: Less than two min­utes from the Earl’s Court Tube sta­tion on the Pic­cadilly line (con­ve­nient when you’re tak­ing the Tube from Heathrow), My Place is a fewfrills, six-story ho­tel that shares a base­ment floor with a night­club. Try to get a room on the top floors to avoid the noise. On the plus side, guests get free ad­mis­sion to the club. My clean sin­gle on the sixth floor was dom­i­nated by the tiny but com­fort­able sin­gle bed; a TV, mini-fridge, safe and hair dryer rounded out the ameni­ties. Most guests ap­peared to have booked as part of a pack­age and took ad­van­tage of the gen­er­ous conti-


K Hol­i­day Villa Ho­tel, 37 Le­in­ster Gar­dens (Bayswa­ter)

Price: $759. Room-only price: $152 (Quik­book.com).

De­tails: Malaysian ac­cents and a small sauna/spa area in the base­ment are what set this 100-room ho­tel apart from the nu­mer­ous oth­ers in the Bayswa­ter area. (It’s also two doors down from the Church of Scien­tol­ogy Celebrity Cen­tre.) The rooms are clean, with a peach-and-green color scheme, and the mostly Euro­pean clien­tele seemed to cheer­fully ig­nore that mat­tresses were be­ing piled out­side and re­placed when we vis­ited. nen­tal break­fast, in­clud­ing un­lim­ited hard­boiled eggs, toast, ce­real, yo­gurt, juice and cof­fee. Wire­less In­ter­net runs about $8 per hour.

Info: 011-44-20-7373-0833, my­place­ho­tel.co.uk.

www. “It’s okay, about what’s ad­ver­tised,” said guest Steve Auger of Wash­ing­ton, who’d booked the ho­tel on a pack­age with Vir­gin Va­ca­tions. Wire­less In­ter­net is about $10 an hour; In­ter­net is also avail­able via two coinoper­ated com­put­ers in the lobby. Near­est Tube sta­tions: Bayswa­ter and Queensway.

Info: 011-44-20-7258-0269, www.hol­i­day vil­la­ho­tels.com. K Blooms­bury Park Ho­tel, 126 Southamp­ton Row (Blooms­bury)

Price: $789. Room-only price: $225 (Thistle­ho­tels.com).

De­tails: The Blooms­bury Park has a phe­nom­e­nal lo­ca­tion just two blocks from the Bri­tish Mu­seum (the clos­est Tube sta­tions are Rus­sell Square and Hol­born), and stained-glass win­dows add a pe­riod feel to the lobby. Rooms we saw were clean if spare, and of­fered a hot wa­ter heater and a se­lec­tion of teas and in­stant cof­fee. But the ho­tel is show­ing its age with old car­pet­ing and in- K Som­er­set Bayswa­ter Ho­tel, 42 Prince’s Sq. (Bayswa­ter)

Price: $829. Room-only price: $232 (Ex­pe­dia.com, Ho­tels.com).

De­tails: If you want to feel as if you’re ac­tu­ally liv­ing in Lon­don, this ex­tended-stay prop­erty is a good choice. The con­tem­po­rary stu­dios, dec­o­rated in browns and reds, have so­fas, TVs (sev­eral have two sets), CD and DVD play­ers, and kitch­enettes with dishes, pans and uten­sils and a dish­washer — though you can also leave dishes for house­keep­ing, at no ex­tra cost. Stu­dios can fit one or two peo­ple, with plenty of room to ma­neu­ver. There are both laun­dry ser­vice and (free) self-ser­vice laun­dry fa­cil­i­ties. The ho­tel also of­fers gen­er­ous suites in an an­nex sti­tu­tional bath­rooms. Ac­cord­ing to an em­ployee, the 95-room ho­tel is set for a re­fur­bish­ment; the bar has been closed since sum­mer. Wire­less ac­cess is avail­able for about $12 per hour.

Info: 011-44-87-0333-9104, www. thistle­ho­tels.com/blooms­bury­park.


K Hol­i­day Inn Lon­don Kens­ing­ton Fo­rum, 97 Cromwell Rd. (Kens­ing­ton)

Price: $819. Room-only price: (IChoice­ho­tels.com).

De­tails: Just look up — way up — to see the Kens­ing­ton Fo­rum, the tallest ho­tel in the United King­dom, with 27 floors and 906 rooms just two min­utes from the Glouces­ter Road Tube sta­tion. An al­cove on the top floor of­fers one of the best panoramic views of the city you’ll get out­side of the Lon­don Eye; it’s worth be­ing a guest just for that (the el­e­va­tors are key­op­er­ated), and many rooms of­fer sim­i­lar views. If you’ve stayed at a Hol­i­day Inn be­fore, you’ll rec­og­nize the pil­low menu; you can or­der your fa­vorite via the TV. The build­ing it­self is im­pos­ing in a vaguely Cold War way, but the rooms are su­perclean, spa­cious and . . . as in­tended . . . familiar. There’s a 24-hour fit­ness cen­ter, a Star­bucks on the ground floor and wire­less In­ter­net in the lobby for about $12 an hour.

Info: 011-44-87-0400-9100, icho­tels­group.com.



out back. The Prince’s Square area is res­i­den­tial and quiet, though just a few min­utes’ walk to busy Bayswa­ter Road and the Bayswa­ter and Queensway Tube sta­tions. Broad­band In­ter­net ac­cess is free.

Info: 011-44-20-7985-1188, www. som­er­set­bayswa­ter.com. K Ci­tadines Hol­born-Covent Gar­den, 94-99 High Hol­born (Hol­born)

Price: $879. Room-only price: $165 (Ex­pe­dia.com, Ho­tels.com).

De­tails: Pull­out couches make good beds when you’re crash­ing with rel­a­tives; not so much when you’re va­ca­tion­ing at a ho­tel. All the stu­dios at this “apart’ho­tel” have pull­outs; the apart­ments have reg­u­lar beds and a pull­out. Op­er­ated by the same com­pany as the Som­er­set Bayswa­ter Ho­tel, this Ci­tadines lo­ca­tion doesn’t have the same panache but does of­fer com­pact kitchens with dish­wash­ers, fridges and ket­tles, and the lo­ca­tion is well placed, within walk­ing dis­tance of both the Bri­tish Mu­seum and Covent Gar­den and clos­est to the Hol­born Tube sta­tion on the Pic­cadilly and Cen­tral lines. There’s a Sains­bury su­per­mar­ket two blocks away. Free In­ter­net: wire­less in the lobby and broad­band in the apart­ments.

Info: 011-44-20-7395-8800, www. ci­tadines.com. K This­tle Kens­ing­ton Gar­dens Ho­tel, 104 Bayswa­ter Road (Bayswa­ter)

Price: $889. Room-only price: $194 (Ex­pe­dia.com, Ho­tels.com).

De­tails: Next to a gas sta­tion that’s un­der con­struc­tion, the ho­tel’s lobby is ac­cessed via el­e­va­tor from the ground floor. The ho­tel is mid­way through a ma­jor ren­o­va­tion; the sev­enth, eighth and ninth floors are fin­ished, so try to get a room on one of those floors (and if you can swing a room end­ing in “02” you’ll get a view in two di­rec­tions). The flo­ral car­pet­ing of the tourist- and bud­get-class ho­tels thank­fully gives way to a pat­terned red here, though the nar­row and low-ceilinged hall­ways have a some­what tight, nau­ti­cal feel to them — but all is forgotten with the stun­ning views of Kens­ing­ton Gar­dens and the spot­less rooms. There’s a lounge, a small bar and a restau­rant on the lobby level of the 175-room ho­tel, which is clos­est to the Queensway Tube sta­tion. Wire­less runs about $12 per hour.

Info: 011-44-87-0333-9102, www. thistle­ho­tels.com. K This­tle West­min­ster Ho­tel, Buck­ing­ham Palace Road (Vic­to­ria)

Price: $1,029. Room-only price: $467 (Ex­pe­dia.com), $204 (Thistle­ho­tels.com).

De­tails: Now here’s a new decor con­cept: tan brick cov­er­ing the inside walls of a ho­tel. It gives the sense of wan­der­ing through a vil­lage, only to end up in a very mod­ern, clean and spa­cious guest room. The ho­tel has 134 rooms on two floors and, as man­ager Mar­i­anne Brown prom­ises, there are “no tiny shoe­box rooms here.” Twenty-nine rooms will soon of­fer two dou­ble beds, an op­tion Brown said is pop­u­lar with over­seas guests. Wire­less In­ter­net, avail­able through­out the ho­tel, is about $12 per hour. It’s just a few min­utes to the Vic­to­ria Tube sta­tion on the Dis­trict, Cir­cle and Vic­to­ria lines as well as Lon­don Vic­to­ria Rail­way Sta­tion, which al­lows easy ac­cess to Gatwick air­port.

Info: 011-44-87-0333-9121, www. thistle­ho­tels.com.


K Crowne Plaza St. James Court Ho­tel, 45-51 Buck­ing­ham Gate (West­min­ster)

Price: $909. Room-only $219 (Crowne­plaza.com).

De­tails: From the el­e­gant lobby and so­lic­i­tous staff to the de­light­ful pe­riod prints on the walls, this is a ho­tel with char­ac­ter and his­tory, built around a gor­geous court­yard that used to see car­riage traf­fic and now of­fers top­i­ary. All 321 rooms and 21 suites come with robes, tea and cof­fee, mul­ti­ple phones and taste­ful decor (with color schemes such as dark red and plaid). Rooms fac­ing the court­yard have wire­less ac­cess, while the oth­ers of­fer broad­band; rates are capped at $30 a day. The com­plex also holds sev­eral restau­rants and the Zan­der Bar, which trivia buffs may know boasts the long­est bar in the United King­dom. Vic­to­ria Sta­tion and St. James’s Tube sta­tions are a quick walk away, as are Buck­ing­ham Palace and St. James’s Park; the front desk can as­sist with scenic run­ning routes.

Info: 011-44-20-7834-6655, www. lon­don.crowne­plaza.com. K K West Ho­tel & Spa, Rich­mond Way (Shep­herd’s Bush)

Price: $919. Room-only price: $199 (Quik­book.com), $212 (Or­b­itz.com), $270 (Ex­pe­dia.com, Ho­tels.com).

De­tails: This sleek, glass-pan­eled ho­tel with a “South Beach meets East Vil­lage” tag line looks as if it was plopped into West Lon­don by ac­ci­dent, on a res­i­den­tial street way out by the Shep­herd’s Bush Tube sta­tion on the Cen­tral line. (Note: There are two Shep­herd’s Bush sta­tions; the other is on the Ham­mer­smith and City line.) If you’re into mod­ern ho­tels, the 222 rooms with king-size beds, dark wood, brow­nand-beige color schemes and leather


couches will fit the bill. It’s a pop­u­lar spot for meet­ings; we won­der how many peo­ple sneak off from com­mit­tee to the lovely Asian-themed spa down­stairs. (Guests us­ing the fa­cil­i­ties are charged about $20 per room; the fee can go to­ward treat­ments, which start at $120 and rise quickly.) Wire­less is avail­able for about $19 for 24 hours.

Info: 011-44-87-0027-4343, www.k-west. co.uk. K Royal Lan­caster Ho­tel, Lan­caster Ter­race at Bayswa­ter Road (Bayswa­ter)

Price: $999. Room-only price: $197 (Or­b­itz.com), $213 (Quik­book.com), $302 (Ex­pe­dia.com, Ho­tels.com).

De­tails: The high­light of this mega-ho­tel is un­doubt­edly Hyde Park, which is across the street and vis­i­ble from many of the rooms — the views are spec­tac­u­lar. How­ever, if you are placed on a lower floor, the view is di­min­ished by a con­crete park­ing garage. The re­cently ren­o­vated 416-room prop­erty has the perks of a big ho­tel: It’s clean, has three restau­rants and a 24-hour bar, and, when we were there, it had packs of rau­cous chil­dren. The “stan­dard” rooms are just that: stan­dard. Though some boast flatscreen TVs, they are small and ba­sic, with cable-based In­ter­net at about $33 a day. The ho­tel is just be­hind the Lan­caster Gate sta­tion on the Cen­tral line. K Flem­ings May­fair Ho­tel, 7-12 Half Moon St. (May­fair)

Price: $949. Room-only price: $310 (Ex­pe­dia.com), $301 (Ho­tels.com), $309 (Ho­tels.com).

De­tails: It’s nice to find quirky char­ac­ter in such a proper area of Lon­don. The lobby of the Flem­ings May­fair is filled with in­ven­tive flo­ral ar­range­ments (was that a boa in the mix?!), and sepia-toned and black-and­white vin­tage pho­to­graphs are scat­tered through­out the prop­erty. Lo­cated on a quiet side street off Pic­cadilly four blocks from the Green Park Tube sta­tion on the Pic­cadilly, Vic­to­ria and Ju­bilee lines, the ho­tel of­fers 119 rooms with vary­ing color schemes (there are also apart­ments avail­able), a li­brary bar and a restau­rant in a circa 1730 Ge­or­gian build­ing. Some rooms of­fer wire­less ($10 for two hours); oth­ers have broad­broad ($30 for up to 24-hour ac­cess).

Info: 011-44-20-7499-2964, www. flem­ings-may­fair.co.uk.

Info: 011-44-207262-6737, www.royal lan­caster.com. K Mont­calm Ho­tel Nikko, Great Cum­ber­land Place (Mar­ble Arch)

Price: $1,039. Roomonly price: $276.

De­tails: The Mont­calm’s in­te­rior is ar­che­typal “English shabby.” Cater­ing pri­mar­ily to a Ja­panese cor­po­rate clien­tele, the ho­tel has worn car­pets, tat­tered pat­terned couches and color­ful groups of clashing prints, along­side Ja­panese-in­flu­enced roomservice and break­fast menus. Lo­cated in a Ge­or­gian cres­cent next to a syn­a­gogue, the 120room ho­tel feels re­moved and serene de­spite be­ing min­utes by foot from Mar­ble Arch sta­tion on the Cen­tral line, Hyde Park and Ox­ford Street (though traf­fic can be heard from some of the rooms). The stan­dard rooms, while a touch damp, are clean, ba­sic and small, with trouser presses and bidets; the quirky du­plex suites of­fer two-story ac­com­mo­da­tions, con­nected by a spi­ral stair­case. Broad­band In­ter­net is about $40 a day.

Info: 011-44-20-7402-4288, mont­calm.co.uk.


K Sher­a­ton Park Lane Ho­tel, (May­fair)

Price: $1,239. Room-only price: $315 (Ho­tels.com), $256 (Quik­book.com).

De­tails: The busy check-in desk sug­gests that the small role the ho­tel played in the Alexan­der Litvi­nenko polo­nium-210 in­ci­dent (Litvi­nenko stayed here be­fore he died in Novem­ber 2006) isn’t keep­ing peo­ple away. Ac­cord­ing to a ho­tel spokes­woman, “the small area . . . where traces of con­tam­i­na­tion were de­tected dur­ing the Litvi­nenko in-


Pic­cadilly ves­ti­ga­tion at the end of last year has now been fully re­me­di­ated,” and a re­port by the Bri­tish po­lice and the Health Pro­tec­tion Agency con­curs that “in the key pub­lic ar­eas [at the ho­tel] there is no sig­nif­i­cant risk to pub­lic health.” The guest rooms are spa­cious and com­fort­able, if not up to the el­e­gant art deco stan­dards of the ground-floor en­try­way and the Palm Court, where af­ter­noon tea is served and the bar stays open un­til 2 a.m. The clos­est Tube sta­tions to the ho­tel, which looks out onto Green Park, are Hyde Park Cor­ner and Green Park. Wire­less In­ter­net runs about $12 per hour.

Info: 011-44-20-7499-6321, star­wood­ho­tels.com. K Swis­so­tel the Howard, Lon­don, 12 Tem­ple Place (The Strand)

Price: $1,349. Room-only price: $311 (Or-

www. bitz.com), $233 (Ex­pe­dia.com, tels.com), $572 (Quik­book.com).

De­tails: Pri­mar­ily a busi­ness ho­tel — there are three phones in each guest room — the Swis­so­tel’s lone Lon­don lo­ca­tion of­fers a great view of the River Thames from the Houses of Par­lia­ment to Tower Bridge from 65 of its 89 rooms. (The oth­ers over­look a court­yard.) Just op­po­site the Tem­ple Tube sta­tion on the Cir­cle and Dis­trict lines, and within walk­ing dis­tance of Covent Gar­den, the ho­tel has es­presso ma­chines and a var­ied tea se­lec­tion in all rooms, broad­band (about for $30 a day) and com­pli­men­tary use of an off-site fit­ness cen­ter (though cross­ing a bridge and run­ning along the Thames would be a great way to ex­plore the river­side lo­ca­tion). All rooms come with king-size beds, and most deluxe rooms have a sep­a­rate sit­ting area.

Info: 011-44-20-7836-3555, lon­don.swis­so­tel.com.

Su­pe­rior Deluxe

K Land­mark Lon­don Ho­tel, 222 Maryle­bone Road (Maryle­bone)

Price: $1,459. Room-only price: $381 (Quik­book.com), $387 (Ex­pe­dia.com, Ho­tels.com).

De­tails: As its name im­plies, this ho­tel is a site, and a sight. The re­fur­bished Vic­to­rian build­ing, which main­tains orig­i­nal Gothic ar­chi­tec­ture, stained-glass win­dows and fire­places, is dom­i­nated by its con­tem­po­rary and ex­quis­ite cen­tral atrium: a glass-roofed, six-story space with palm trees, couches, mar­ble floor­ing and live classical mu­sic waft­ing from the mez­za­nine cafe. Some of the spa­cious 299 rooms of­fer views of the cen­tral atrium, oth­ers look to the posh streets of Maryle­bone, and still oth­ers open onto tem­po­rary scaf­fold­ing. (The old ed­i­fice must, by law, be main­tained.) The Land­mark of­fers a Sun­day cham­pagne brunch ($127) and has sev­eral restau­rants and a swish bar, as well as a gift shop and hair salon. A gym/spa/ pool is be­ing ren­o­vated and should be open by the end of the month. The pleas­ant rooms don’t of­fer many un­usual perks — aside from PlayS­ta­tion, that is — but make you feel as if you’re se­ri­ously on vacation. Broad­band is $28.50 a day.

Info: 011-44-20-7631-8000, land­mark­lon­don.co.uk.

http:// K The Ritz Lon­don, 150 Pic­cadilly (May­fair)

Price: $1,889. Room-only price: $625 (Ex-


www. pe­dia.com, Ho­tels.com).

De­tails: You may think or­nate rooms with dec­o­ra­tive gold mold­ings, Louis XVI decor and cus­tom-made car­pet­ing aren’t your style, and per­haps they’re not. But the Ritz, which opened its doors in 1906 and where guests are greeted by name, also has some fun up its sleeve, as seen by the vin­tage pho­tos in the guest rooms: One shows Tal­lu­lah Bankhead drink­ing cham­pagne from her shoe. Even if you don’t stay here, con­sider splurg­ing on af­ter­noon tea in the Palm Court ($71 per per­son) or hav­ing a drink in one of the pub­lic rooms, just to get a taste of op­u­lence. (Jacket and tie are re­quired for men.) The Ritz also of­fers a full-ser­vice salon and fit­ness room, DVD play­ers and broad­band In­ter­net ac­cess (about $40 for 24-hour ac­cess). The Green Park Tube sta­tion, on the Pic­cadilly, Vic­to­ria and Ju­bilee lines, is next door.

Info: 011-44-20-7493-8181, lon­don.com.

www.theritz Lon­don free­lance writer Judy Batal­ion con­trib­uted to this story.


At the My Place Ho­tel in Earls Court, left, you may want to ask for a room above — far above — the base­ment night­club. The Hol­i­day Villa Ho­tel in the Bayswa­ter area, right, fea­tures Malaysian ac­cents and a small sauna/spa area.


The Crowne Plaza St. James Court ho­tel com­plex is home to the long­est bar in the United King­dom.


The Sher­a­ton Park Lane, top, and the Ritz.

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