2011 was an exciting year for London’s boutique hotels and 2012 is shaping up to be no different. With the Olympics and the Queen’s Jubilee taking place over the summer, hotels will be falling over themselves to pull in visitors with innovative special offers in the quest for a bumper year. And if January is anything to go by, this year looks like a very good year indeed for many of the capital’s boutique hotels.
When popular user review website TripAdvisor announced its Traveller’s Choice 2012 ‘Top 25 Hotels in the United Kingdom’ in January, one could have reasonably expected several London hotels to feature in it.
But in fact there were only three, all boutique hotels: The Milestone Hotel, Hotel 41 and the Haymarket Hotel. Could this be a sign that visitors to London are being turned off by the big grandiose chain hotels and switching on to more intimate boutique stays?The Haymarket Hotel is on the TripAdvisor shortlist even though it has a bizarre policy of charging its guests extra for WiFi.
Conde Nast Traveler meanwhile unveiled its ‘Platinum Circle’ of hotels and resorts that have featured in its Gold List for every one of the past five years. Among them were The Milestone once more and The Goring.
Of course, competition amongst London boutique hotels is not only across the city itself but in localised areas. Industry blog London Hotels Insight ranked the top four luxury boutique hotels in Covent Garden in reverse order as The Covent Garden Hotel, St Martin’s Lane Hotel, One Aldwych, and in first place, Radisson Blu Edwardian Mercer Street. A clue to their relative ranking might be found in the fact that only the latter two currently have free WiFi – surely de rigeur in today’s luxury boutique hotels. The Mercer Street Hotel is also offering some attractive London hotel deals given that it has recently been extensively refurbished.Funky and fun, the renovated Mercer Street Hotel has been doing well on TripAdvisor as people discover the good value it offers relative to local competitors
With Valentine’s Day fast approaching, many London hotels and restaurants have been offering special Valentine’s packages. One of the most intriguing has to be The Milestone’s massage master class. Couples will learn all the techniques they need to give their partner the perfect massage, with a night in a room or suite, a bottle of champagne, a romantic dinner and a full English breakfast thrown in for good measure.
At boutique 4 star hotel Rubens at the Palace meanwhile, it’s all about long lie-ins. Throughout January they’ve been offering guests a late check-out time of 6PM with their ‘Lazy Days’ promotion. What’s more, they promise to serve a late breakfast of a bacon and egg buttie, orange juice and coffee at any time of the day. Late sleepers can take advantage of this exceptionally lazy offer until February 10th.Guests can now enjoy “Lazy Days at The Rubens” with heavenly late breakfast and check-out until 6 pm right up to February 10th
London Hotels Insight has been taking London hotels to task over whether they provide free Wi-Fi, with Hotel 41 one of the boutique hotels recently road-tested by a team of bloggers. They found the WiFi to be free and “as flawless as the staff’s attention to detail and service.” Not surprising in a way since this is currently the number 1 London hotel on TripAdvisor.
London’s newest hotel is the London Belgraves from the Thompson hotel group. Due to open on 1st February, the hotel features an outdoor terrace and a Mark Hix restaurant, but unfortunately lacks the essential free WiFi. London Hotels Insight’s research discovered that guests will be charged an extra £15 for internet access – a surprisingly shortsighted policy for a new hotel wishing to make a splash in London’s competitive hotel market.The Belgraves promises British hospitality with American attitude, but no free WiFi
The Daily Mail have been naming their ‘Gold Medal Winners – “The Best London Hotels for 2012” – and amongst them was the budget boutique Z Soho which opened in November and was voted the ‘Best Value New Hotel’ with rooms from £85 a night. The Mail described it as “quality accommodation at an affordable price”. And unlike the significantly more expensive Belgraves London it does come with free WiFi.
Anyone trying to find accommodation during the Olympic Games will be pleased by the news that 120,000 London hotel rooms are being put back on sale by the Olympic organisers, Locog. The rooms had been reserved for workers and sponsors at the games but are apparently no longer needed. The vacancies are thought to range from big luxury hotels to budget offerings and there are sure to be some boutique hotels in the mix.
One of London’s most well-known cinemas, the Odeon Leicester Square, may soon be turned into a hotel. The cinema (which apparently had financial difficulties) has been bought by Radisson Blu Edwardian Hotels, which may turn it into a 245-bed hotel with a two screen private cinema. Further announcements will follow.Patrons of the old Alfie’s Bar and Kitchen will enjoy Masterchef-style comfort food
Gourmands will delight in the news that Masterchef’s Gregg Wallace is set to open a 1970s themed restaurant at the Bermondsey Square Hotel, as a replacement for Alfie’s Bar and Kitchen. The restaurant (to be named Gregg’s Table) will serve favourites from the grocer-turned-presenter’s childhood, including chicken Kiev, lobster thermidor and vol-au-vents.
UK rapper Professor Green, originally from Hackney, has revealed his favourite London hotels. He told the Evening Standard: “I like Sanderson for its Purple Bar and the purple billiard table. I love the modern US-style rooms at the W Hotel, it’s the closest I’ve been to New York.”The Sanderson is a real hit with the celebrities. No pun intended.
Baywatch and Knight Rider turned presenter and cult-icon David Hasselhoff revealed an unusual incident from his past that took place in the Philippe Starck designed Sanderson Hotel. According to the Daily Mail, “In 2006 he suffered an unlikely accident involving a chandelier while shaving in London’s Sanderson Hotel, severing a tendon in his right arm,” while suffering from alcohol-related problems. Did we really need to know this?
Finally, having visited and published a list of the best free WiFi hotels in the capital, London Hotels Insight recently also launched a free venue finding service for companies. The blog’s venue-finding team has offered to visit any London hotel with free WiFi but will mostly focus on inspecting the meeting rooms of boutique hotels rather than big brand chains, since they provide more intimate venues and personalised service.
Look out for another monthly boutique hotel news round-up next month from London Hotels Insight – your premier source for inside information on the London hotel scene, with a special emphasis on boutique hotels.
Photo credits: London Hotels Insight blogger Timea, Haymarket Hotel, Rubens at the Palace, Belgraves London, Bermondsey Square Hotel, Sanderson Hotel.