London is home to innumerable delights and experiencing them as a solo traveller can afford a fascinating insight into the city.
As something of a London ‘virgin’ I jumped at the opportunity to review one of the city’s leading hotels – the Radisson Blu Edwardian, Blomsbury Street Hotel.
Not having explored the big smoke before, I was delighted to find the hotel was situated right in the heart of the city.
I alighted from the train at Euston Station and, like the proverbial country mouse, was immediately under the spell of the superb buildings and the fast pace of London life. The hotel wasn’t far so I opted to walk instead of taking the Tube or a taxi.
Famous place names jumped out at me – Bloomsbury Square, Tottenham Court Road, The British Museum, Soho, Oxford Street, Covent Garden – all within walking distance. Fabulous.
As a newcomer, every nook and crannie seemed exotic and full of promise.
I was delighted to find that the Bloomsbury Street Hotel was less than ten minutes’ walk from the station.
The magnificent Edwardian building stood like a sentinel at the corner of Bloomsbury Road and Great Russell Street. I was equally pleased to see that the British Museum was about a minute away from the hotel.
The staff couldn’t have been more attentive and friendly when I entered the hotel. I was immediately struck by the sumptuous feel of the hotel. An enormous red model of a stag reclined on padded seating at the main entrance and everywhere I looked there were unusual examples of contemporary design. The seating, displays and ornaments all had an animal theme which I loved.
Paying homage to the hotel’s location (the area was once home to literary legend Virginia Woolf), an entire wall had been dedicated to Woolf’s Mrs Dalloway. The striking art installation, made up of pages from the celebrated novel, dominated the hotel’s spacious reception area. I also learned that the Radisson Blu, Bloomsbury Street Hotel, was the first hotel to host its very own book club. Each month guests are invited to leaf through the hotel’s recommended book, or take away a complimentary copy.
My room couldn’t have been more perfect. It had six large windows with wonderful views of the bustling street below and the striking roof of the British Museum. The quintessential London busses and cabs whizzed by as I sat on one of the comfortable velvet-covered seats. It was an ideal spot for relaxing and planning my explorations of the city.
The room itself was the ultimate in luxury. It had a sleek flat screen TV, complimentary high-speed wireless and was beautifully decorated with deep carpeting, stylish blinds, a designer bathroom, exquisite lighting and a gorgeous velvet throw on the king-size bed. The bed was so comfortable that I didn’t want to leave the following day! Before my evening meal I was treated to a tour of the 174 bedroom hotel. There were three striking suites, each with a decadent freestanding bathtub and a contemporary twist. My guide said that for parties travelling for a special occasion, or VIPs requiring a little extra privacy, the Bloomsbury Street’s Exclusive Floor is an excellent choice. Located on the top floor, it has superb views over London’s eclectic architecture.
These rooms had been upgraded to include the finest furnishings and top of the range amenities including ipod docking stations, Bose sound system, Nespresso coffee machines, plush dressing gowns, complimentary toiletry gift set and a £15 voucher redeemable in the hotel’s bar and restaurant.
The hotel’s bar was cool and stylish – a foodies’ paradise. Highlights included smoked haddock and sweet corn fishcake with Caesar dressing and pea shoots, roast pheasant with black pudding, served with fondant potato, Savoy cabbage, onion and rosemary jus and white chocolate and raspberry dome with strawberry coulis and mocha cream.
To see what other Radisson Blu Hotels offer we were taken to the Kenilworth Hotel’s Creation Bar and Restaurant on Great Russell Street. Luckily some other journalists and their partners were at the hotel and two couples from Warrington and Essex kindly invited me to sit with them. We had one heck of a feast. The starters included: pork belly scampi, Aspall’s Cyder jelly, pommery mayonnaise and crispy pork skin; ballotine of organic Scottish salmon, warm potato and dill salad Leek and potato soup and Wensleydale bon bons (my choice); pressing of chicken leg, braised knuckle with cockle; seared king scallops, creamed Desiree potatoes and English mustard sauce.
The mouth-watering mains included: 10oz rib eye steak, hand cut chips, baby vine tomatoes and crispy onions; Cornish smoked and organic classic fish pie with braised Wensleydale cheese leeks (my choice) and ale battered fish, hand cut chips, tartare sauce and Manchester caviar.
I had a delicious apple crumble and custard for dessert and my companions had a selection of British cheeses with oat biscuits and homemade chutney. The wine and coffee were also to die for.Well fed and supremely relaxed, we headed off to bed and I had a fantastic night’s sleep. Breakfast was also a delight as there was so much fresh produce on offer. I opted for fruit juice, coffee and poached eggs on toast, all carried off with the flair of an excellent chef. After my wonderful night and tasty breakfast I was ready to experience all that London had to offer.
My main port of call was the stupendous British Museum where I saw an exhibition of artefacts from Pompeii and Herculaneum. It was the best and most moving exhibition I have been to. Then I went walkabout and soaked up the street culture on Oxford Street, chilled out in the sun on Soho Square, roamed through the theatre district, watched performers at Covent Garden and came across innumerable other famous places.
Staying at the Radisson Blu enabled me to do all of this with ease. It is an ideal hotel for spending a night, a weekend or a longer break in the heart of London. The service was second to none and the experience of the hotel’s captivating design features will stay with me for years to come.
It was the essence of London chic and a truly unforgettable break.