The entrance to the St Giles Hotel
I really got let down by friends. I was travelling into the UK from the Middle East and was supposed to spend the night at their house before catching my onward flight from Heathrow the following day. As I was leaving the hotel in Dubai they messaged to say they were working late that day and would have to pass on the reunion.
I unpacked my iPad and quickly went to the London-Hotels.co.uk price comparison site and with the taxi waiting outside, I booked the St Giles Hotel at £88 for a double bedroom.
As I was arriving into Heathrow at 2 pm and not flying out until 1 pm the following day, I did not really want to stay at the airport, preferring to go into the central areas. I knew that the St Giles Hotel was in a very convenient area for access from Heathrow using the Piccadilly Line into central London.
I also knew that it was a huge hotel with 700+ bedrooms and that with the low price it would probably be a “bed factory” with noise through the night. It was with trepidation and a somewhat unenthusiastic attitude that I set off to the airport and London.
An uneventful flight for 7 hours and a quick transfer into central London on the Piccadilly Line from inside T5 got me to the hotel in around an hour. Being lazy, I took the tube direct to Covent Garden and then jumped a cab to the hotel. The total trip cost me under £13.
The St Giles has concierges, so as soon as the cab pulled up at the front of the hotel he took my luggage up the steps to the check in desk and strangely enough, did not hang around for a tip.
The St Giles reception area
Check in was surprisingly fast, efficient and friendly. We had exchanged our Dirhams at Dubai Airport for pounds sterling so we paid the £88 in cash. Usually, hotels at this stage ask for a card anyway so you can purchase drinks and so on, but at the St Giles they simply stamp your key card holder “NO CREDIT”.
We were allocated a bedroom on the 3rd floor, room 305 and used one of the 4 lifts to get to it. Up to now all had been good but I was worried about what we find when we opened the door. Like many London hotels, the corridors are a little narrow and dull but the lift areas on all floors have drinks and snacks vending machines and some even have ice machines. We noticed that all the bedroom doors had electronic locks.
First impression of 305 was that it was small and dated. The bedroom faced onto Tottenham Court Road, a busy road night and day. The bathroom was also very small. There was a double bed with sufficient floorspace at the side to open our suitcases
The Standard Double Bedroom
Our first impression and the thing that struck us most, was the horrible colour of the room, it emanated a horrible rusty brown, dark orange hue from both the carpet and the quilt cover. Which, to say the very least was uninviting. To some extent it felt dirty, but this was totally not the case, the colour just doesn’t lend itself to welcoming you into a bright, fresh clean hotel room. In fairness the room and bed linen were very clean.
The room facilities at the St Giles Hotel
There is a small desk area, with overhead shelving and room for a suitcase to the side. There was a comfortable chair by the desk. That said, for a double room the second person had to use the bed to sit down. Something which I personally hate doing, especially when you have been travelling on buses, tubes, planes and so on.
The bathroom in the standard bedroom at the St Giles Hotel
There was an electronic room safe, tea and coffee hospitality tray and an opening window. However, once the window was open, being low down on the third floor you could hear a lot of traffic and city noise from outside. Once the window was closed the outside noise was reduced significantly. The windows must be at least double glazed.
The room does have air conditioning but we found it to be too noisy to leave on. As mentioned above, we found the bathroom a little bit on the small side but very clean and functional, the shower was fine, at least the bathroom had been modernised with nice marble effect walls and tiling.
The towels were a little on the small side and thin but this was not a massive problem. After all, we knew we were paying well under the norm for a central London hotel. The room did provide everything it promises to do on the box.
The bed was small for a double but very comfortable and with the air conditioning turned off it was relatively quiet.
There was some noise from outside soon after we had gone to bed and it sounded like they were in our room, I guess that means the walls are pretty thin but it was the only time we heard anything throughout the night. In fact we slept very well. This is exactly what you want when you go to bed in a hotel isn’t it?
The bar at the St Giles Hotel London
The bar was really comfortable and we had 2 house wines each, although the bill was a little steep at £28. The cost does include service so we left no additional tip. The WiFi in the bar is free of charge and had a good signal throughout.
The business centre was also good and I was able to print off our boarding passes without any issues they do charge you 50 pence a copy but that was OK with me.
Despite there being 4 lifts, at peak times we regularly had to wait a few minutes. I recommend not taking the stairs as to the 3rd floor from the ground floor there are exactly 80 steps (Who needs a gym with effort like that).
We did not take for breakfast in the hotel and that was a good move as immediately across the road was a Sainsbury Store where in the morning we bought lovely croissants and fresh orange juice for £2 per person.
So, our conclusion….
♦ Drab and out of date bedroom decor
♦ Road noise
♦ Busy hotel
♦ Slow lifts
♦ Fantastic location
♦ Good facilities
♦ 24 hour cafe
Would we stay again…
Without a doubt yes. With the money we saved on accommodation, it paid for a meal at Jamie’s Italian near Covent Garden. Without doubt this is an excellent area where you can walk to Covent Garden in 10 minutes or be shopping on Oxford Street within 5 minutes. The room offers all you need and the hotel itself has better than average facilities with restaurants, bars, internet machines, casino, gym and a 25m indoor swimming pool.
Think yourself fortunate that the standard rooms have not been modernised or you would be paying an additional £40 for the privilege.
Bed factory or VFM?
A bit of both but nowhere near as bad as we feared
♦ Insist on as high a floor as possible
♦ Unless you have a deal including breakfast use Sainsbury’s across the road
♦ Request a room not overlooking Tottenham Court Road
♦ Book to see We Will Rock You at the Dominion Theatre, just 100 metres away
Compare prices at the St Giles Hotel London
Holiday Inn Kensington Forum
Holiday Inn Kensington Forum
In the South Kensington area, the Holiday Inn Kensington is an iconic landmark rising above the skyline and making it very easy to find as you enter London on the A4 Cromwell road from the M25 or M4.
The journey time from London Heathrow is relatively short by either road or tube.
The area around this 4 star hotel is upmarket being prime residential London. As such there is a huge infrastructure of restaurants, bars, retail outlets and transport links. Within walking distance you have Knightsbridge, Chelsea, Earls Court, Fulham and Kensington.
Local cultural attractions include the Natural History Museum which is an essential visit, the Science Museum, the Royal Albert Hall, Hyde Park, the Victoria and Albert Museum and Chelsea Physic Garden.
Retail therapy offers upmarket Harrods, Harvey Nichols, High Street Kensington and the Kings Road.
Restaurants in the area cover every requirement in terms of taste and budget from fast food to Michelin star quality.
If that was not enough, the hotel is in one of the safest areas of London. It also has a huge underground secure car park.
Walk out of the hotel, turn left, walk 200 metres and you are at the Gloucester Road tube station. This is served by the Circle and District line which encompasses central London. You can travel as Far East as the Tower of London which borders the Financial District (City of London) or alternatively right into the West End and Theatreland.
Despite being one of the largest hotels in London, the Holiday Inn Kensington Forum has a reasonably efficient checkin.
The foyer is huge and includes the Reception Desks, a vast seating area, a small general shop offing newspapers, cigarettes and souvenirs, a very nice deli offering Starbucks Coffee and an open plan restaurant.
The lifts are at the back of the foyer and require a key card to access the bedroom floors so security is top class.
The Cromwell tavern
Walk past the lifts and you have a large sports bar which offers bar snacks. It is themed as an English pub called the Cromwell Tavern and tends to be populated by the aircrews staying there on lay over.
The bedrooms are typical Holiday Inn and hold no surprises. They have all the usual chain hotel facilities including, for us, the essential kettle. Internet is chargeable and adequate enough to hold a video call. The bed was average comfort and very clean. The views were excellent being above the neighbourhood except for Point West opposite which is a private apartment block.
Breakfast can be an issue. It’s a buffet affair with a great selection of products. You are shown to a table and then it’s self service. At the weekend, the wait for a table was unacceptable, especially on the Sunday.
Unless breakfast is included, we would recommend that you use one of several restaurants in the immediate vicinity. These will be much cheaper and faster. There are two in the Gloucester Road shopping arcade just two minutes walk away and also one opposite the station.
Also opposite the station is an HSBC bank, a pub serving food including breakfast, a couple of fast food outlets including Burgerking and a Pauls French patisserie.
For evening food, just near the tube station is the world famous Bombay Brasserie. Here you can eat contemporary Indian cuisine is a colonial setting. Less expensive and less grand, but equally good, is the Light of India next to the Montana Hotel at the junction of Cromwell Road and Gloucester Road.
Take the tube one stop east to South Kensington and you have some seriously good restaurants on the Brompton Road.
If its a sunny day you can walk along the Cromwell Road to Harrods. It will take around 20 minutes. A little further along and you have Knightsbridge and Sloane Street with its uber expensive shops.
The Holiday Inn Kensington Forum is a great choice of accommodation. It has everything that you require on site, the prices are generally OK and the area is excellent for tourism. There may be more stylish 4 stars in the area but pound for pound its a good buy. If its asking a high price then you may as well also check out more stylish hotels in the same area like the Xenia Hotel or Ampersand Hotel. Also the NH Harrington Hall is an alternative.
Our tip: just 300 metres west of here is a 24×7 Sainsbury’s Superstore. Apart from being able to buy food, you can purchase ready made sandwiches and hot meals to take away. There is also a Starbucks inside. You can park on the roof for up to 2 hours free of charge.
Also, for cheap drinks and meals join the Casino underneath the Millennium Gloucester Hotel just 2 minutes walk from the Kensington Forum.
Book the Holiday Inn Kensington Forum in London
Visit our South Kensington Hotels Page
London hotels price tracker
London-Hotels.co.uk have released “average nightly hotel price stats” for all areas of London.
Originally produced for the public to enable them to pick a cheap date to stay in a hotel, the “at a glance” stats are now being used by the hotel sales offices of London hotels to plan forwards their pricing campaign.
The stats are compiled and updated daily by London-Hotels.co.uk who poll 1000 hotels for their published prices up to a year in advance. The prices are then sorted into geographical areas and the averages published.
Stats are available from individual hotel level right up to London as a whole.
For the public, the stats have proved exceptionally popular as they can identify the lowest price and get maximum value for money. For hotels, they can see what the competition are planning and adjust their prices accordingly.
Beta testing is also in place with an instant real time chat facility between a hotel’s clients (past, present and future), the hotel admin and also the website admin. They have recognized that Tripadvisor is ”historical” information whilst social media now enables instant review feedback and information flow.
Later in 2013, London-hotels.co.uk will be offering tailor made in-depth price statistics and also the real time client chat app. These innovations will be available to all London hotels free of charge.
London-hotels.co.uk is part of the AR Limited Dubai Group. They are currently producing prime-domain hotel websites for the UK, Europe and the Far East. They also develop bespoke augmented-reality packages for companies, institutions and governments.
I recently found myself having to book a hotel in the area where I actually live. Having walked past The Milestone most days for years, I decided to throw my budget out of the window and spoil myself.
I was flying in from Dubai and the flight landed at an indecent early hour which put me on Kensington High Street by 10am. I killed an hour in the Wholefoods Store (always a pleasure) and then walked the 200m to the Milestone.
It is actually like walking into someones posh house rather than a hotel and I was greeted by the smiling man on reception in a very friendly and not “stuck up” manner. I explained that I was early and was it possible to leave my luggage there whilst I waited for a room to come free; “No problem at all Sir”.
OK, then came the comment which sold me totally.
“Is that a Blackberry in your shirt pocket Sir?”
“Why don’t you leave me your number and I will call you as soon as a room is available”
I was impressed!
Around noon I got the call and returned to the hotel. I had been upgraded to a Suite, which is always a nice feeling. Bit of a shame my wife was not with me on this trip.
The suite was called the Safari Suite. Very quirky with animal prints and like being in Africa in a posh tent.
The Safari Suite at The Milesone Hotel
The next 24 hours was very pleasurable indeed. I has a quirky suite with views over Kensington Road towards the Palace Gardens and on the doorstep was what I consider to be one of the best areas of London. In the room were home made biscuits, fresh fruit and then the maid brought in canapes. I could do this permanently!
In the evening, I went into the Stables Bar. Its small and comfy and the bar man was very knowledgeable about the Milestone Wine Cellar. Several nice glasses of Bordeaux (Château Mongiron), a fairly large bill and off to bed! He took the time to chat about his wines without being in your face.
The Stables Bar at The Milestone Hotel London
Check out was simple and again very friendly.
I felt as if I had been to a spa for a day, I was so refreshed and in such a good mood !
If you get the chance, give it a try.
The Milestone Hotel is located right opposite Kensington Palace Gardens, the very eastern part of Hyde Park and of course, where Kensington Palace is situated.
The closest tube is High Street Kensington which runs directly from Heathrow Airport.
The Milestone is 5 minute stroll from The Royal Albert Hall
Kensington Roof Gardens with its fabulous Babylon Restaurant is 5 minutes away.
For more information go to our Milestone Hotel page.
[Pictures courtesy of the Milestone website]
Find out more about Kensington and where to stay with the Kensington Hotel & Insider’s Guide.
Why the Milestone Hotel London is a great choice
The Insiders Guide to Kensington Hotels
Unique places to eat in Kensington
Discover unique places to visit in Kensington
Things to do in Kensington
Balthazar NY opened in 1997 and is consistently in the top 1 or 2 % of Tripadvisor NY Restaurants. Now we have an identical London version.
Founder Keith McNally has now returned to his home town to reproduce his US success story.
Balthazar London can be found just 50 metres down Russell Street which is the eastern exit from the Covent Garden Piazza.
Housed in the old Theatre Museum, Balthazar shares the building with the London Film Museum.
The menu will mimic the one from New York except for Skinny ribs and is biased towards shell fish and steaks.
Open from breakfast to late night supper, the restaurant also offers light food to take away and artisan breads from its own bakery next door.
This will be serious competition for existing eateries!
4-6 Russell Street, London WC2E 7BN
Mon-Fri 7am-12M (Fri -12.30am) Sat-Sun 8am-12.30am (Sun -10.30pm)
The long awaited ME Hotel London is actually at last open.
Officially its March 1 but they are taking bookings now as a soft launch.
This lifestyle hotel is situated in prime central London on the Strand so its exceptionally good for Covent Garden and Theatreland.
This area is becoming a “core” of classy hotels with One Aldwych, the Savoy and the Waldorf. Hotels likely to lose business to the ME London are the now rather boring Grange Holborn Hotel and the Kingsway Hall.
ME London offers no less than 9 accommodation styles ranging from the Aura Room up to the ME Suite complete with fire pit on its private balcony.
There are main restaurants offering Italian style and American Steakhouse and also the Radio Rooftop Bar and Restaurant.
Interestingly dogs and cats are allowed.
ME Hotel London also offers in-room relaxation and spa treatments.
Book the ME Hotel London
The new kid on the block, The Corinthia, seems to be the best at almost everything.
Its already hit the top 10 London hotels on Tripadvisor who have also awarded it “Travellers Choice 2013″ for London. Now its the Independents turn who have placed it at #1 for the best spa hotel in London.
Its also a hotel group with a social conscious, the Corinthia chairman, Alfred Pisani, is patron of “Just a drop” charity.
The ESPA spa at the Corinthia is the real deal with a stainless steel swimming pool and also a vitality pool. The spa is spread over 4 floors and 3300 square metres. Themed with black marble, soft leathers and curved walls.
Hair treatments are overseen by Daniel Galvin, hairdresser to the stars since the Twiggy era.
Fitness is the domain of former professional cricketer and a junior international cricket and rugby player, Stephen Price and his professional team which includes Ben Brown, a globally recognised expert in complementary medicines.
The gym is, as you would expect, fitted out with the very best ‘LifeFitness’ cardio vascular and strength machines, Powerplate, free weights area and also offers private personal training pods.
First time visitors are offered the choice of initially meeting the “Gatekeeper”, a naturopathic practitioner, who will undertake an in depth wellbeing assessment including iris diagnosis (iridology) which is a non-invasive way of obtaining information about the state of the internal structures, tissues and organs of the body.
The team consists of naturopaths, traditional Chinese Medicine acupuncturists and herbalists, osteopaths, physiotherapists, personal trainers and spa professionals
The spa offers an extensive range of beauty treatments for both men and women. There are 17 treatment “pods” including private suites for individuals and couples.
The Day Spa Package offer full use of the Gym, Thermal Floor with Pool, Vitality Pool, Amphitheatre Sauna, Steam Room, Ice Fountain, Relaxation areas and Experience showers. Each package includes a glass of Champagne or freshly squeezed juice on arrival, and a 2 course lunch.
Book the Corinthia Hotel
See the Spa
Pictures courtesy of the Corinthia Hotel
The Corinthia Hotel is located in the heart of Westminster, close to Trafalgar Square and Whitehall.
Address: Whitehall Place, London, SW1A 2BD
Staying in a central London hotel can be an expensive outlay but quite often, visitors to London are happy to trade bedroom size to make a saving.
If your main requirement is location and you are happy to accept that the bedroom is simply a place to sleep then you can save real money.
How about a middle of the road, unremarkable 3 star hotel just 300 metres from Oxford Street?
We can not extol over its accommodation virtues, its “average”, its concrete purpose built and boring.
But here are the virtues:
Oxford Street – 5 mins walk
Soho – 5 mins walk
Theatreland – 10 minutes walk
Covent Garden – 10 minutes walk
Dominion Theatre – 4 minutes walk
Tripadvisor ranks it around 500 out of 1100 London hotels with most guests being highly positive about the location. Its big and busy and when full you can have issues getting a quick breakfast but you walk out of the hotel and you are in the very centre of London’s West End.
Which hotel is it? Its the St Giles Hotel on Tottenham Court Road
At the prices it charges we have to say that it offers value for money
Check it out at:
St Giles Hotel London