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The Chester Hotel may not be housed in one of the Victoria district's elegant town houses, but it has a quaint charm of its own, as the 19th century terrace house contains some bright modern rooms and is serviced by exceedingly helpful staff. The hotel is in a peaceful residential district, filled with garden squares and architecture from a bygone age. However, this doesn't mean that there is no excitement to be found nearby. Situated near Victoria and Westminster, in the heart of London, all of the city's most iconic sights and attractions are just a short walk away, which is why this area is so popular with tourists, not to mention the excellent transport links.
The hotel is a little on the quirky side, with bright colour schemes and imaginative touches such as mini chandeliers and art prints on the walls. Beds are comfortable and although rooms are a little on the cosy side, they have a homely feel. Rooms are available from Single to Family size and in-room amenities include wall-mounted flat screen TVs, tea and coffee making facilities, daily room service and bathrooms are en-suite. Free Wi-Fi is also available in rooms, a real plus as many four and five star hotels nearby charge for this service. Staff are very friendly and are more than happy to share their knowledge of the local area. Guests have also reported accounts of staff attending to any problems very quickly and even ringing after a guest has stayed to follow up on any issues.
Whilst it is important that the hotel is suitable for your stay, it is unlikely that you will be spending a great deal of time there, as there is so much to do nearby and the hotel's location is one of the most convenient in the city, from which to explore. Five minutes away, near Victoria Station's grand concourse, you will find the entrance to London's Theatreland district, with the Apollo Victoria, Royal Court, Pigalle and Victoria Palace Theatres showing a range of drama, musicals, cabaret and comedy to suit all tastes and ages, Culture vultures will also enjoy the selection of art galleries nearby, from traditional Turners and pre-Raphaelite paintings at Tate Britain, surrealism and post-modernism at Tate Modern, renowned contemporary artists at The Serpentine, an extensive collection at The National Gallery in Trafalgar Square and The National Portrait Gallery, where you will find some of Britain's most famous faces.
If you want to see London's more iconic sights, you are just a short and pleasant stroll from most. From Westminster Abbey, the site of coronations and royal weddings, which dates back to the Middle Ages, to the Houses of Parliament at Westminster Palace, which is filled with be-suited politicians arguing out the country's social and economic issues. You can tour both and see some of the city's oldest and most ornate architecture. Big Ben sits alongside Parliament, voted London's most iconic sight, only British nationals can climb to the top, but perhaps you can persuade a British friend to help arrange this. Westminster Cathedral is a stunning cross-shaped building and a working church, where you can attend a mass in historic surroundings. You can also take a peek at the Prime Minister's residence at 10 Downing Street, although unsurprisingly you are not allowed inside and the residence is surrounded by security. For a slightly grander residence, head down the Royal Mews to Buckingham Palace, Queen Elizabeth II's 'humble' abode, which you can tour when she is out of town at her Balmoral estate. If the tour is unavailable during your visit, you can still watch the daily Changing of the Guards ceremony, a fascinating ritual that has lasted for hundreds of years.
For something a little less traditional, you can ride the London Eye, a huge wheel, from which you can view panoramic views of the city, as long as it isn't too rainy. You can also take a trip down the River Thames by boat or speedboat if you want an adrenaline rush. Alternatively, you can hit the shops, as there are plenty near to the hotel. You can head to the King's Road, former centre of counter culture style in the 60s, it has become a lot more upmarket since Vivienne Westwood set up her SEX clothing store there. Knightsbridge, Belgravia and Mayfair all have a divine range of exquisite and decadent shops, such as Harrods and Harvey Nichols department stores, Fortnum and Mason food hall, Herme for macaroons and Rococo for wacky chocolate creations.
For the evening's entertainment, you can stop off at tasty eateries such as Seafresh for upmarket fish and chips, Kazan for filling Middle Eastern fare or Boisdale for very upmarket Scottish delicacies with live jazz music; and then head to Pacha nightclub or Cask & Glass bar.
Victoria also has some of the best transport links in London, from the station, housed in a dramatic Victorian building, you can catch the Gatwick Express train to the airport in 30 minutes as well as overground services to their areas of the UK. The Victoria, District and Circle lines can take you further afield to explore the rest of London and from Victoria coach station you can catch coaches to other areas of the UK and to Europe. The station is also a bus terminus, so there are dozens of bus routes you can take to many other areas of the city. It may take you a few minutes to work out which bus is the correct one, but once you have the hang of the system you'll be away!
Aside from The Chester Hotel's great location, it is a very quaint establishment with a welcoming atmosphere and plenty of character. Given that the surrounding area has some stunning Thomas Cubitt designed houses, some guests may prefer a hotel located in one of those, but with affordable rates, this is a great choice for travellers on a budget.