HOTEL of the week
STRAND PALACE HOTEL, LONDON
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