Thursday, 14 October 2010

A five star experience

We recently spent two weeks in England - one week of work and one of holiday. It was both interesting and nice.

When it comes to London, it's always difficult to find a nice hotel. In this city the adjectives "cheap" and "good" do not appear in the same sentence when referring to accommodation. If you cannot afford to splurge £500 a night, it's a challenge to find five-star accommodation within a reasonable budget, but we make a game out of it and we usually win. It's amazing what sweet deals you can come across if you just take the time. If you do find a good offer on Expedia for example, it may pay off to call the hotel directly and ask if they can beat it with something even better.
Staying at five star hotels is not something we've been spoiled with for many years. When I was in my twenties, I was completely obsessed with travelling around the world as a backpacker. Back then the goal was to get the money to stretch as far as possible, and when I think of how many shabby hostels I've stayed at, it's a wonder I got away with only a few flea bites. One time I actually lived half a year in a tent (!) travelling around the Pacific islands and Australia. It was quite an experience, but there wasn’t much luxury to be had. That time is over and done with now. Been there, done that, got the flee infested t-shirt. I still have the travel bug, but now that I’m in my forties, burdened with a busy job, I no longer have the time to travel around the world for months on end, so on the short trips I do occasionally take, I want to indulge in a little luxury. In that sense, the hotel has become an important part of the destination for me now.

London can offer both modern and classic hotels of every standard. This time we chose "The Cranley", which is a classic luxury boutique hotel. This tiny hotel, with just 39 rooms, is located in a quiet street in South Kensington and is comprised of three Victorian townhouses. The building dates from 1869, which obviously influences its style.

The lobby is quite small, but very pretty and nice - almost like a small library. As usual in London, hardly any of the employees were actually English, which can be quite frustrating if one tries to communicate a point. This man here, however, had such a nice accent that we wondered if he might be the exception that confirms the rule.

Every evening champagne and canapés was served in the lounge. Neither of us are normally all that enthusiastic about bubbly, but a refreshing glass before dinner proved to be so nice that it is something we could easily get used to.

Notice the colours in the décor, they are based on the original floor tiles. The entire hotel is decorated in these colours.

In the room there were fruit and drinks. Husfruen also appreciated the selection of reading material.

The mahogany four-poster was enormous, filling much of the room. It was dressed in Irish linen and the headboard was hand embroidered in a Roslyn pattern. It was simply gorgeous!

There was only room for one armchair.

Since everything else was kept in a traditional style, modern amenities like the small TV and the Ipod docking station looked a bit out of place. But I suppose it wouldn’t be easy to make a Victorian style television.

On the small desk there is just enough room for a laptop computer.

The bathroom wasn’t large, but it had a tub with a shower. The taps were, of course, classic style. Large, warm towels and dressing gowns are appreciated after a long day’s walking. The toiletries are Penhaligon’s, which are nice but not my personal favourite. However I still didn’t appreciate how stingy the maid was, not supplying us with new ones every day. As we came back on the second day, we found no new conditioner even though there was just about a half teaspoon left in the tiny bottle. When I called the maid, she told me sternly: “You will get a new one when you have finished the old one, not before!” How does one reply to something like that? Well, the next morning we just hid everything.

The hotel didn’t have a dining room so every morning we had breakfast brought to us by room service. It was the standard continental breakfast which became a bit monotonous with just jams and marmalade every day, so we supplemented with some cheese and Marmite. Heh heh, the cheeses that Hubby likes are somewhat pungent, so they probably had to give the mini bar a proper airing out after we left.

Of course, we had to visit Harrod's to buy some goodies. 

Hubby was tempted by the fantastic selection of cheeses, and was so charmed by the French ladies in the “Fromagerie” that we ended up buying a lot more than we could eat. By the way, the Stilton was simply divine. Mmmm! However, we passed over the truffles, at a mere £6,500 per kilo….

London is obviously a large city, but it is blissfully easy to travel by bus or tube. We strongly recommend buying an Oyster Card, which makes it easier still. However, if you like to use your legs, The Cranley is actually within walking distance of many of the most famous attractions. One can easily stroll to both Harrods and various museums like the Victoria and Albert or the Natural History Museum.
In this city there are so many museums that you could probably spend a year sightseeing and still not get around them all, so picking the right ones is important. This time we decided to focus on "timepieces", more about that later.

1 comment:

  1. Jeg og en venninne skal til London i slutten av november, opprinnelig bare en natt, men vi slo til med tre. Vet du om noen andre hoteller også? Dette så veeedlig dyrt ut? Takk for superdupert innlegg.