HO­TEL of the week

STRAND PALACE HO­TEL, LON­DON

Sunday Mirror (Northern Ireland) - - Travel - TOM PARRY

WHERE AND WHY A splen­did lo­ca­tion right on The Strand, one of the cap­i­tal’s most iconic streets. From the lobby you can walk left, right or straight ahead and al­most im­me­di­ately en­counter some of Lon­don’s main at­trac­tions. The Thames is only 100 yards away, Covent Gar­den, Le­ices­ter Square, Trafal­gar Square and the Na­tional Gallery a mere five min­utes. For a week­end trip, an overnight stay for a West End show, or a longer tour of the all the main sights, there can surely be few bet­ter placed ho­tels. It’s the ideal place from which to start out, and re­lax af­ter a day of pound­ing the pave­ments. How­ever the in­te­rior does not quite match the splen­dour of its lo­ca­tion. Our room was mod­ern, pleas­ant and clean, but by no means pala­tial.

ON THE MENU The restau­rant, Hax­ells, has a some­what soul­less feel, com­pounded on the night we vis­ited by scores of mis­er­able busi­ness guests sit­ting alone. Given the dozens of quirky restau­rants on sur­round­ing streets, Hax­ells of­fers lit­tle that stands out as an in­cen­tive to stay and eat. But we were ex­tremely well looked af­ter by our waiter, whose wine rec­om­men­da­tions and easy charm were im­pec­ca­ble. The menu was var­ied, fea­tur­ing all of the “Bri­tish clas­sics” that vis­i­tors from abroad would want to tick off. I had cala­mari (zesty and not over­cooked) and a sir­loin steak (just slightly over­done, pre­sum­ably to

suit Amer­i­can tastes). We both went for the Eton Mess for dessert. Mains range from £12 to £23; desserts from £6 to £9.

WHILE YOU’RE THERE

Head to the Thames and en­joy a cruise – surely one of the best ways to en­joy the city? Some of the best mu­se­ums and art gal­leries are nearby, in­clud­ing the Na­tional Gallery and Na­tional Por­trait Gallery. Body Worlds, Dr Gun­ther von Ha­gens’ renowned ex­hi­bi­tion of real hu­man bod­ies, is just around the cor­ner at the Lon­don Pavil­ion off Pic­cadilly Cir­cus. Fas­ci­nat­ing, and far less gory than squea­mish vis­i­tors might fear. Shop­ping on Ox­ford Street, Re­gent

Street and in the smaller bou­tiques around Covent Gar­den and Seven Di­als is within easy walk­ing dis­tance. The South Bank, with its the­atre, ex­hi­bi­tions and street per­form­ers, is just across Water­loo Bridge.

WAKE-UP CALL B&B dou­bles at the Strand Palace Ho­tel from £130. strand­palace­ho­tel.co.uk

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