Royal Horseguards review
If you want to impress somebody then show them a photo of the Royal Horseguards hotel from the outside. Book a weekend away, and then show them a photo of where they're staying -- I guarantee that they will be impressed. They'll probably agree to marry you on the spot. If you look at the hotel from across the river then it's all turrets and spires and golden lamplights in the leafy trees. It really is a beauty (although some of it is private apartments). Unfortunately the front door is around the other side, and isn't nearly as impressive, but the reception area, restaurant and bar are all luxurious.
My bedroom is good, but not great. And the only reason I say that is because it doesn't have a bath. I don't understand how a 5-star hotel can have a bathroom bigger than a bedroom, and still not find room for a tub. The shower in my room is bigger than my shed. It's huge! You can probably fit about six people in it, so why not rip it out and stick a bath in there? It's supposed to be a 5-star hotel for chrissakes. I am sure that this is the real reason why rock stars smash up their hotel room -- just ask Jimmy Page. Ask Led Zeppelin why they wrecked their bedrooms. It's because they didn't get a bath. And the only reason why I'm not smashing up this one is because I can't afford to replace everything.
Now that I've got all of that off my chest, let me assure you that everything else is fantastic. This is the kind of hotel that I'd happily like to live in forever. I'm even tempted to die here, if they'll let me. When it's time to check out, I'm actually going to check out for real (permanently). I'll stick a tenner on the table as a tip for the cleaner, and leave a suicide note complaining that there was no bath.
I'll tell you what you do get, though -- a TV in the shower. I'm being serious! There is an actual TV screen inside the shower cubicle. When was the last time you wanted to watch Coronation Street in the shower? And the marble bathroom floor must have underfloor heating, because it's like walking on a piece of warm carpet. It's a very nice bathroom (apart from the bath -- did I tell you that there's no bath?).
There's no bath!
The room has all the usual goodies inside it: a bed, a desk, chair, another chair, a big armchair, lots of drawers with nothing in them, a Bible, a very posh box of tissues, an ice cooler with no ice in it (so it doesn't cool diddly squat), a safe, a pair of slipper flip-flops, a dressing gown, an ironing board, an iron, a shoe horn that is about a foot long, some padded coat hangers, three telephones (one for each ear, plus one for your mouth?)... and some carpet. But no bath. And you get free Wi-Fi as well, which isn't always the case with 5-star hotels.
They also kindly provide you with a copy of Business Traveller magazine, which has interesting articles like "Business start-ups are flourishing in the Indian city of Bengaluru" and "The Savoy's American bar reveals new cocktail list". Nothing about baths, though.
They have been pretty generous with the teabags. You get a little wooden casket full of Twinings tea, and plenty of coffee and sugar and milks, plus a few biscuits. They actually give you more tea than I can drink in a day -- and I can drink a lot of tea. The minibar is full of booze and crisps and nuts, but you'd actually have to be nuts to eat them, because the prices are outrageous (as they always are in hotel minibars). Everything is triple the price it is in the shops.
The restaurant is very nice. It's all white china and marble columns, marble floors, polished tables and portraits of old soldiers on the walls. All the flowers are fresh and starched and standing up straight like old soldiers, posing for photos. The bookcases are filled with leathery old tomes too old to open, and all the staff look like they've stepped off a Parisian cat-walk. They all have red ties and buttoned up waistcoats, and walk around with silver trays balanced on upturned fingers. It's far too posh for cornflakes, of course. You shouldn't be listening to Mozart over a bowl of Kellogg's cornflakes. You don't need a napkin when you're eating Rice Krispies, but that's what you get. You could practically have a four-course meal just for breakfast. You could start with fruit and yoghurt, follow it up with a plate of sausages, eggs, boiled potatoes and a bowl of olives, and finish it off with a croissant and five triangles of toast.
The customers who frequent this place all have very important things they need to do today. The old toadies next to me are currently discussing the market's reaction to their new portfolio share options, and every other sentence contains a phrase like 'forcing audience direction' or 'company communication channels'. I'm just sitting here thinking, Come on, guys. At least wait until 9 o'clock before you start talking about work -- you're not getting paid for this, you know! Eat your damn cornflakes and talk about the football. They are probably the kind of guys who make daily use of that TV in the shower, so they can catch up on the Bloomberg news. Other people are sitting here with folded legs in starched trousers, and a broadsheet newspaper. One guy is studiously adjusting his floppy fringe in the mirror.
The bar is nice and dark and gloomy (I like dark and gloomy). It's the kind of place where you can think dark and gloomy thoughts over a ten quid thimble of coffee. It's so dark and gloomy that I'm actually wondering whether all the lightbulbs are broke. It's not the kind of place where you'd want to have a party, that's for sure, but if you want to treat your missus to a romantic bottle of candlelight wine before you take her for a slap-up meal at McDonalds then it's perfect.
As for the hotel's location... it's pretty much perfect. It's on a very grand road that runs parallel with Whitehall, and you can walk to Downing Street in about three minutes. Horse Guards is just across the street. Trafalgar Square is two minutes down the road. I might give the Prime Minister a ring and ask him if I can borrow his bath. If he starts running the taps now, I reckon I can be round his house before the tub fills up.
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