Craig’s review… Somebody needs to totally revamp the hotel rating system in London because if the Andaz can call itself a five then this is a six. The Royal Horseguards is a six. The Ritz is a seven. This is a proper 5-star hotel. This is the kind of place you’d take your missus if you were planning to propose. That’s how you really rate a great hotel: whether you’d propose to your missus in it, and whether it increases your chances of getting a yes.
I almost missed the front door when I was walking down Threadneedle Street, and I nearly missed the reception desk as well because it’s just a couple of bank manager-types sitting behind a table. Whilst they’re busy taking down your details you peer around the atrium and straight away you know it’s going to be great. At the time of writing they’ve got a giant Christmas tree in the middle and everyone’s sitting around it with their wheelie suitcases waiting for their taxis, their meetings, their date, their mate – I could have rated this place before I even stepped in my room. That’s how good it is.
The room is big enough for a double bed, a three-seater sofa, an armchair, office chair, desk, coffee table, two side tables, a lamp table, TV cabinet and a couple more cabinets. The bathroom alone is probably bigger than the last place I stayed in.
Let me have a root through the drawers and see what I can find… you get an iPod dock, a couple of phones, a safe, minibar (I’ll tell you the prices in a minute), sewing kit, shoe shine kit and shoe horn, iron and ironing board, ice box with some actual ice in it, an umbrella, a couple of dressing gowns, a pair of slippers, hairdryer… I think that’s about it. And a waste paper bin.
In the bathroom you get a shower and a bath, some soap, more soap, enough towels to soak up the sea, and a vase of white gravel which might be bath salts but to be perfectly honest I haven’t got a clue.
Okay… now that we’ve got all of the boring items out of the way, let’s get down to the important stuff: the teabags. You get eight teabags, but unfortunately six of them are women’s teabags (peppermint, Chamomile and Earl Grey), but seeing as they also supply you with a couple of hot chocolates and four biscuits I will let them off. If you prefer coffee then your luck is in, because you get a little Nespresso machine as well.
The minibar prices aren’t too bad, provided that you stick with the soft drinks. A can of Coke is only a couple of quid, and the Kit-Kat is two quid fifty. The little fun-size bottles of whiskey are £6.50, whilst a half-bottle of champagne will set you back £30 – so make sure that you have something to celebrate first. You don’t want to blow thirty quid on champagne only for her to say no. So here’s my advice: propose first… then buy the champagne. Or even better: buy the champagne, drink the champagne, get drunk, then propose, then buy her a Kit-Kat. When she queries the romance of a Kit-Kat just tell her that it cost you £2.50 – which is double the price it is in the shops.
I’ve just found a leaflet about massages and spas. Apparently I can order an ‘Advanced performance facial for men’ for £65 quid, which is clinically proven to combat the “harsh, ageing effects of shaving”. Luckily that doesn’t apply to me because I’m too lazy to shave anyway. I only shave about once a week. So maybe I can go for a ‘Face and body sensation’ instead, which “rapidly accelerates skin repair and restores youthful radiance”. I have just one response to that: no. It’s not happening. Not ever. No way. Not in a million years. I would honestly rather die than do any of those. I even read it again just to make doubly sure that it’s supposed to be for men, and yes, there is a picture of a so-called ‘man’ next to it. What a wuss!
Being a 5-star hotel they’ve decided to leave a load of arty books on the coffee table. They’re never books that you actually want to read, though – they’re always highbrow stuff like ‘French fashion in the Renaissance’ or ‘Armchair fabrics from the 1720s’. Today I’ve got a big book on Zen and some catwalk photography by Lucian Perkins. I think they just pick the biggest and heaviest books they can find so nobody tries to nick them.
The bar and restaurant are just about the best that you could wish for. The dining room is a big hall with red leather seats and chandeliers, and the staff are so beautiful that they actually distract you from your dinner. It’s a Marco Pierre White place, if that means anything to you. He’s a bit like Gordon Ramsey… only scarier. Imagine Ramsey, but with death stares instead of swearwords – that’s Marco. You can tell it’s his place because he’s decorated it with giant rock ‘n’ roll-style photographs of himself with a cigarette hanging out of his mouth, chatting with some supermodels.
I only ever eat the breakfast in these places but they’ve got a menu all day – even at seven in the morning. You shuffle in still half-asleep and they sit you down with a besuited waiter and a leather bound menu with about ten pages in it (just for breakfast). I saw English Breakfast on the very first page so that was fine with me. I’ll just have one of those please, mate. Okay sir, he said. Five minutes later he came back carrying a wagon wheel loaded up with about a tonne of food: sausages, bacon, black pudding, scrambled eggs, giant mushrooms, giant tomatoes, a rack of toast… normally I just have a bowl of Rice Krispies in the morning and this thing was like a three-course meal.
Oh yeah… I nearly forgot to mention the location. You’ll find the hotel down Threadneedle Street, about two minutes from the Bank of England. The nice thing about Threadneedle Street is that it’s heaving with people during the week because it’s in the centre of The City, but come the weekend it’s like a ghost town. Hardly anybody lives in The City because it’s all offices, so if you get up early enough then you can have the streets all to yourself. You can walk around the Royal Exchange, St. Paul’s, the Guildhall – everywhere – with just the company of a few pigeons and a few crisp packets blowing along the pavement.
So to sum it all up, then… I think I’ve just found my new favourite hotel. It’s a toss up between this one and the Royal Horseguards. (The Ritz will forever be a class apart, so it’s unfair comparing hotels to that.) If you want a hotel that’s posh, but not posh enough to make you feel uncomfortable, then here it is.