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The Great British Experience

October 12, 2013 Destination Global, Headline News No Comments Email Email
egtmedia59On my recent visit to the UK to visit my family and and to celebrate a friend’s birthday I had the opportunity to stay in some interesting hotels. My friends knowing my hotel career background were interested to know which hotels I booked.
So I have pleasure in sharing with you the AJW Great British Experience following my recent visit to the UK.
My Great British journey started at the delightful Landmark London hotel. image (1)
On arrival at Heathrow, after an 11 hour flight on THAI, we headed immediately to central London via a 30 min taxi ride, for a much needed rest stop before heading to Yorkshire the following day.
We would spend 4 nights again the following week before visiting my sister and then later fly back home to Bangkok. For this one night stop however we definitely didn’t unpack, it was a case of shower and bed.
It’s a special hotel for all kinds of reasons. The hotel was opened as The Great Central Hotel in1899 with 700 bedrooms in Marylebone and was the last of the great Victorian railway hotels constructed during the golden age of steam. Railways were expanding quickly and this was to be the Central Railway terminus in much the same way as Kings Cross became the London terminus for the entire East Coast Main Line and a gateway to the north.
It’s special also because back in the mid-90s I was part of the Landmark Group and was present when the group’s Thai owner took control of the hotel, we celebrated at midnight on the appointed day by popping a bottle of champagne among the soaring palm trees of the Winter Garden. A moment that I won’t easily forget…truly a landmark event.
The hotel was formerly branded the Regent London and in my mind since Landmark took over the hotel, it has gone from strength to strength winning awards as the best new business hotel amongst others.
We weren’t there for business we were on holiday or as the trade calls it ‘VFR’ (visiting friends and relatives). The Winter Garden is one of my favourite eateries in London and the hotel staff are superbly friendly and efficient and it’s always nice to come back.
imageAs you head to the bedrooms your anticipation rises as to what you will find. But worry not it is a joy to behold – a most sumptuous bed with Egyptian cotton bed-linens and delightfully appointed rooms. The bathrooms are simply beautiful, clad in white marble and with all the latest amenities that you would need during a visit to a five star hotel. I particularly found the walk-in showers a great advantage to the step-in-the-bath type and being purpose built they are spacious and luxurious and have space for all your shampoos, soap, toothbrushes and razors – a point many hotel managers should take note of. How often have you found yourself looking for somewhere to put the soap and your toothbrush – they usually end up on the floor!
Located on Marylebone Road in front of Marylebone railway station the hotel is just round the corner from Baker Street. The location is ideal for getting around London. If you enjoy taking a big bus sightseeing tour the stop outside Baker Street underground station is ideal. A full day of sightseeing  in comfort atop a double decker bus is perfect. London has so many attractions to see. I lived and worked in the capital for 11 years but still manage to see something new. The journey over Westminster Bridge and Tower Bridge is particularly spectacular, in full view of the London Eye and The Shard.

The Churchill Hotel York 

This is a delightful boutique hotel just steps away from the historic centre of York and it’s  impressive cathedral – York Minster.
The hotel owned by a friend who also owns property in Pattaya Thailand, is a gem.
The Churchill was built as a private house in 1827. The house passed between various private owners until 1875 when it was run as a ‘school for young ladies’ until 1879 by Misses Inchbold. In 1882 the property was sold to one of Her Majesty’s Principal Secretaries.
The house was purchased by the present owner in 2006 and modernised and today features 32 rooms and a fine dining restaurant and piano bar.
I adore this hotel and the magnificent sweeped staircase rising two floors adorned with impressive oil paintings emphasising it’s height.
The kitchen is a dream and service is enthusiastic and friendly with big Yorkshire smiles. As big as the Sunday lunches and FULL English breakfasts!
We delighted in having coffee mid-morning in the garden. A late summer made the experience even more memorable. Clear blue skies and birds in the trees. Wonderful.
The Crown Cookham, Berkshire
Driving into Cookham is like arriving at the quintessential English village. It’s close proximity to historic Windsor; a meandering river Thames and Heathrow makes this village very special. image (2)
So special that my sister lives here and during my graduate training days I used to commute between Cookham and London when I lodged with my sister, getting up at the crack of dawn to get to my kitchen at the Sheraton Park Tower hotel in Knightsbridge before 7a.m. everyday. And on my day-off sitting on a bench on the river Thames under a willow tree, watching the white swans and sailing boats. Happy memories.
The Crown Pub was originally the Crown Inn and it is estimated that it was built in the 1700s, providing food and shelter to the weary traveller. Accommodation in those days was very sparse. The construction of the first Crown Inn was of wattle and daub, fixed to an oak beam wall frame. The wattle was made, in most cases, of hazel saplings. Horse hair was used as a binder in the mixture. The original building was destroyed by fire and has been re-built twice in 1890 and 1929.
The Crown Pub has now been under the same management since 2008 and underwent a complete refurbishment in April 2012, with the addition of 8 ensuite bedrooms and an open view kitchen.
The 300 year old Crown is an historic feature of the village.
A village pub with rooms is not something new in the UK, however it is a delightful experience if you can find a good one. The staff are young and friendly and with its own professional kitchen this encourages you to take your meals in-house. 
The meals that we had were excellent and the daily breakfast was fantastic. The rooms and the whole pub was clean and spotless and we had a very comfortable stay albeit too short! A wet, cold spell were the only downside to a thoroughly enjoyable visit.
Written by : Andrew J Wood

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