Craig’s review… Do you know what the nicest sight in the world is? It’s walking over Waterloo Bridge with the rain bashing against your wet head, wind biting into you as it whips along the river, and the Strand Palace Hotel coming into view as you walk around the corner. They even have a bowler-hatted gentleman on the door to hold it open for you.
The lobby is colossal. They’ve got four or five women behind the desk, a few restaurants coming off the side, a jewellery shop and a cafe, bar, the obligatory aquarium, and a few computers for surfing the net. I’ve actually stayed here a couple of times already so luckily I already know I like the place, or I probably would have moaned about the room… because this is the smallest one I’ve ever been given. But all of their previous rooms have been pretty decent so I’ll let them off.
It has all the normal stuff in it: TV, telephone, desk, safe, hair dryer and free Wi-Fi. It also has a bin, a window, some carpet, four walls and a door (I like to be thorough). The bathroom is quite roomy with a shower and a bath. I know from previous visits that not all the rooms have a bath – so I made a point of asking for one on my booking. That’s a sign of getting old – needing a decent bed and a bath in the room. When I was younger I used to go to Australia and some of the pokey old rooms I stayed in didn’t even have a TV. I didn’t care though – I used to stay in hostels as well. You wouldn’t catch me doing that these days. I’m like the princess and the pea these days. Even The Ritz has trouble keeping me happy.
One thing that I find quite handy is the vending machine on every floor. Not a lot of hotels do this, and if you’re posh then you probably think it’s a bit common – having a crisp and Coke machine right outside your door – but who wants to dress up and go downstairs to the bar for a quick drink?
I’m sitting in the little bar area now and it’s full of businessmen and old people squinting at the menu trying to work out what to eat. It’s the kind of place that sells a bottle of red wine for twenty quid. And there’s a nice bottle of champagne if you’ve got £55 burning a hole in your pocket. I don’t have anything to celebrate that’s worth 55 quid, so I just settle for some Coke. That is more my level.
Breakfast is an all-you-can-eat, self-service type affair with baked beans, sausages, fried eggs, scrambled eggs, hash browns, cheeses, cereals and fruit salad. And then there’s your fruit juice, tea and coffee for after. It’s a bit annoying that they don’t let you sit wherever you want, though. The restaurant was half empty and she kept leading me to a crappy seat by the door. I don’t suppose she would have minded if I’d asked to be moved, but she sounded Russian and I’m scared of Russians.
One of the best things about the Strand Palace Hotel is its location. Covent Garden is right around the corner, and Trafalgar Square is only five minutes down the road. You can easily walk to Big Ben, Buckingham Palace and Piccadilly Circus. St. Paul’s is probably a little bit too far, but there are about a bazillion buses right outside the front door which will take you anywhere in London.
So, to sum it up then… would I stay there again? Yes, I would. And I have! I’ve been to quite a few London hotels and this is definitely one of my favourites.
London: A Visitor’s Guide
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