You feel comfortable from the moment you arrive at London’s Royal Garden Hotel. Someone with a smile is waiting to grab your luggage, check-in is quick and easy and the lovely girls behind the desk are really knowledgeable and busting to help. We had an appointment the next morning (horrific traffic) at St Pancras and were advised the quickest way to get there was not to take a cab or use the nearby Kensington High Street tube but to grab the number 9 bus that stopped right out the front of the hotel. The girls were spot on.
While it does not share the shards of the glitz and glamour associated with five star hotels in Asia, the Royal Garden is a favourite with everyone from presidents and prime ministers through to Rod Stewart, Dustin Hoffmann and Debbie Harry. Right now the hotel is celebrating its 50th year anniversary with special events to continue throughout the year.
Book the hotel direct on the net and you get free wi-fi and other goodies including in the winter months, movies and breakfast. Have a look at www.royalgardenhotel.co.uk
There are four lifts (no card security system) so we were quickly on our way to room 902 which was a good size for London but with a real difference. We were not just overlooking the glorious and vast Royal Gardens but Kensington Palace, home of Prince William and the lovely Kate and family. The white tile clad bathroom was big enough for two offering a bath/shower combo which while not ideal for older people did a the job extremely well with a minimum of water ending up on the floor. The large heated towel rail was appreciated – for the obvious reason and also drying small items overnight. So were the bathrobes. Towels were thick and obviously warm, lighting over the mirror was average and there was no power plug in sight although we discovered why later – there is a large lift-out mirror built into the desk with power plugs below – just the spot for the morning session of hair drying and make-up, according to herself.
Desk equipment includes two UK and one euro power plug. Pity an international socket was not included but it is a common omission. The furniture by the way looks very new. It includes a standard lamp, two lounge chairs and one central bedside table with a clock/dock. The LG TV includes audio/video and HDMI plugs. We could only get a twin bed room. Lighting controls are beside each bed but only one guest rates a power plug. There was plenty of hanging space and the safe was intelligently placed at an ideal height. The self serve coffee/tea tray included two scrummy biscuits and a Dairystix tube filled with semi skim milk – such an improvement on powder. The minibar was well stocked with everything from a bottle of Les Vigneaux Merlot (fairly ordinary) for 25.5 pounds to a beer for five quid. Diet coke was 3.
Even on low the aircon was noisy and try as I might it would not switch mode to heat. There was no iron or board in the room but a phone call was all it took to get same delivered.
All in all a very pleasant stay in one of the best areas in London. There is a huge food hall just down the road that also sells good value wine – and for shoppers Marks and Spencer and many other major brands beckon. Finally, each evening you can stroll or if you prefer run around the beautiful Royal Gardens.
To conclude: A friendly, good value and well located hotel in the best sector of desirable Kensington. Experienced, friendly staff and lovely views. My suggestion for a meaningful 50th anniversary gift – end wi-fi fees. Rating: UK 5 stars, International 4.5.
Written by Ian McIntosh.