This is post number three in my nine-part trip report on the London/Iceland getaway I took with my wife, Sarah, last month.
By now, everyone should now that I'm an SPG addict. I'm not ashamed to admit it; of all the addictions I could have in the world, I'd say being addicted to SPG and my Platinum status is actually pretty healthy. As I've written about in the past, so long as I keep my expectations in check, SPG treats me incredibly well and I have no reason not to keep coming back. London, as one may expect, is full of SPG (and other chain) properties. All in all there are eight options in the city, and naturally, they're not all clustered in one area. Thankfully I knew we wanted to stay in/around Picadilly, which narrowed our options down to three. Since I try to avoid Category 6 and 7 properties unless it's a very special occasion, our minds were really made up for us. Thanks to the process of elimination, we chose to spend our time at the Park Lane Hotel (which is actually branded as a Sheraton).
We redemmed points for a five night stay, which (as is the case with points-redemptions) came as part of a 4+1. That means we spent 12,000 points for each of the first four nights and the fifth night was free. So, for all five nights we spend 48,000 points (or, just over 9,500 per night) instead of £1,120 (280x4). With five nights coming in at ~$2,350, this redemption got us 4.9 cents of value out of each point. By just about anybody's standards, that is a fantastic redemption... We certainly loved every second of it!
Upon checkin, we were offered two choices for our Platinum room upgrade. The first choice was a junior suite (without a view) that was ready immediately; the second choice was a one-bedroom, executive suite with a separated office/work room and a park view! The catch, was the second room wouldn't be ready for a few hours. Since we were up against the clock for the Sabbat (on Friday afternoon), Sarah and I decided we didn't really want to wait for the bigger (park-view) room and would stick with the junior suite. Somehow though, during the three minutes of discussion we had off to the side, the super-amenable agent at the front desk managed to come up with a different park-facing full suite. SCORE! With that, we opted for the points amenity (since we couldn't eat any of the breakfast over Passover) and made our way to our room. The first thing you saw when you opened the door was two separate rooms; to the left, the office and to the right the bedroom.
Next was the bathroom. It had a very luxurious feel with everything (floor to ceiling) being covered in white marble, had all of the niceaties you may expect from a high end hotel - that includes a towel warmer, a bidet, a double-vanity and a deep tub, separate from the shower. The biggest issue I had with the bathroom was the shower itself. While it was a nice size and well-designed, the shower-head was embarassingly small. Needless to say, standing under it felt less like taking a shower and more like trying to shower in the rain during a drought.
While we weren't able to enjoy the breakfast at all, I did want to take a look at the facilities to take some photos to share them with you. The first thing I noticed was the lack of seating - the breakfast area seemed very small compared to the size of teh hotel. However, each day I went in (admittedly, I only went in twice) there were always plenty of open tables. All in all, the spread was nothing more than mediocre. Certainly more than a Platinum member is entitled to - at least technically according to the bare minimum rule of "continental breakfast" - but not as extravagant as you may find in other European properties, or certainly Asian properties. I would call it a typical "English Breakfast." There were eggs, potatoes, beans and bacon (none of which I got photos of - sorry), pastries, fresh fruit, cheeses, cereal and a pancake maker. No, it wasn't one of those "mmmm..... smell-it-from-a-mile-away" type of waffle machines. Rather, it was one of those, "does-that-thing-make-pancakes?" machines you find in the Alaska Airlines lounges. Nonetheless, people seemed to be happy with their breakfast. As I write this (and load the pictures), I realize this breakfast was actually far more substantial than I make it seem. Perhaps it was the cramped setting; perhaps the fact there were only three or four warm dishes; perhaps that - and I think this one could be the real reason - I couldn't eat any of it because it was Passover. Nevertheless, I'll let you be the judge...
While most of our five-day stay did fall over Passover, we made sure to have at least one holiday-free day in London. Why's that? Given Sarah's affinity tea, no first-trip to London (for her) would be complete without a "high tea" experience. In theory, we could have gone a different hotel for it, but we had heard decent things about the tea service at the Park Lane Hotel and even noticed a certificate of "high tea-service standards" in the large seating area where they generally served the afternoon tea. With that, we decided to save our energy and just do it at our hotel. Well, that decision couldn't have been any better. Sarah and I absolutely loved it! The tea was delicious, the scones melted in your mouth, the finger-sandwiches were original and best-of-all (at least for Sarah) they had a live harpist to help set the mood. The hall/lounge/bar/seating area (or whatever you want to call it) where they did the tea service was absolutely beautiful as well, with high ceilings and a very open and warm feel.
Unfortunately, I won't be writing a "things to do in London" post as part of this trip report, but I ecourage you to search around Google and I'm sure you'll find plenty of great things to do. London is a fantastic city filled with world-class attractions, theater and museums. Among them, we visited the British Museum, the V&A and the Natural History Museum. We alo managed to take in a show, Jeeves and Wooster, which was absolutely hilarious! Despite having a blast, neither Sarah nor I are rushing back to London - after all, there are so many more places we've yet to explore! However, when/if we do return, I certainly wouldn't hesitate staying at the Park Lane Hotel again. Their service was excellent, the room (at least the one we were given as Platinum guests) was spacious, the bathroom - except for the shower of course - was luxurious and the location was perfect.
Have you stayed at the PLH in the past? What were your thoughts? Were they in line with these experiences?
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