By a coincidence, we (Rob and Anika) each stayed at one of the two London InterContinental hotels over the last ten days. We thought it would be interesting to do a ‘compare and contrast’. Today, Anika reviews the flagship InterContinental London Park Lane and tomorrow Rob will look at the brand new InterContinental London O2.
IHG invited Head for Points to their annual partner day which included a free stay at the InterContinental Park Lane. Whilst I live in London, it seemed a shame to waste the room and I thought I might as well stay over and write up a brief review.
Park Lane is, theoretically, one of the global flagship properties for InterContinental. The hotel reopened in 2006 after a huge refurbishment costing a reported £75m.
The location of the InterContinental Park Lane is great. Right inbetween Green Park and Hyde Park and two minutes from Hyde Park Corner tube station you got everything you need on your door step. Marble Arch is about a 10 minute walk and Piccadilly Circus is also in walking distance. Living in London and knowing the traffic I find it important to be able to walk to places rather than taking a bus or taxi.
The reception area is light and spacious with sitting areas. There are enough desks that even during busier times you shouldn’t have to wait too long to be checked in.
Unlike many modern hotels, Park Lane does have a fair amount of ‘people watching’ space. The two restaurants, open plan bar and afternoon tea areas are all on the ground floor.
My room was a Studio Suite with separate living and bedroom. This is not the room you would get if you book a basic room. Unfortunately, because this was not an official review trip, I wasn’t able to get a tour of the other room categories.
The hotel is shaped like a squared off capital A (or a capital H with a line across the top!). This means that a lot of rooms overlook an internal courtyard which seemed a bit dull. My room was internally facing but at the bottom bit of the A (or H!) so I could see up Park Lane towards the Hilton if I looked left:
Here is the seating area:
The bed was nice and comfy. In the bedroom you could also find a BOSE radio with iPod / iPhone dock. It is not compatible with the newer iPods and iPhones and should be updated – this is a hotel which sells for £400+ a night for a basic room on its busiest nights.
As you came in there was a dressing table to your right (yes, I finally had a dressing table in my room that did not turn out to be a desk!)
The living room area had a desk and a sitting area:
with sofa, chairs and another TV.
The bathroom was a bit small but had a shower / bathtub and enough space around the sink. As you can see the toiletries were the standard InterContinental Agraria brand, though they were bigger 100ml sizes than in some other InterContinental rooms I’ve stayed in the past.
There was a safe and ironing board in the wardrobe.
All in all it was a great room with lots of space. However the style seems a bit dated as you can clearly see from the pictures – I can only imagine that this room must have looked dated on the day the hotel reopened back in 2006.
The lack of a coffee machine (or kettle – unless I missed it) is also an issue as most hotels provide at least a kettle for every room. An in-room Nespresso machine is pretty standard in even basic rooms at modern luxury hotels, let alone a suite.
Breakfast is being served in the Cookbook Cafe with the option of a cold continental buffet, added hot food or a la carte.
The public areas are, I think, much more successful in terms of decoration. They felt fresh and modern, which just made me even more confused about the choices they had made for the rooms.
The Arch Bar on the ground floor is a good place to start or, in my case, end an evening.
Because I was busy with IHG events throughout my stay, I didn’t get a chance to visit the gym (which I believe is very good) or spa or eat in the well regarded Theo Randall Italian restaurant.
On the 7th floor is the Club Lounge. This is probably the most successful part of the hotel and may be the main reason to stay at the InterContinental Park Lane.
The view was fantastic:
and the space is huge – by far the biggest executive lounge I have ever been in:
I popped in during breakfast and the spread looked very impressive. There were also ‘cooked to order’ dishes available.
In the evenings, the hotel serves Moet & Chandon champagne and canapes via table service from 5.30pm:
There are worse ways to start your evening in London.
The only surprise was the lack of any lunch in the lounge. At noon there was nothing available except some cookies, crisps and soft drinks. There is a pause between breakfast, which I think ends at 11.30, and the afternoon snacks which start around 3pm.
This is a tough one because I never got to see a standard room. I liked my Studio Suite but it didn’t feel like a modern luxury hotel room. As it wasn’t huge, I imagine the standard rooms are relatively modest. Any that overlook the central courtyard will be even more underwhelming.
On the other hand, if you are booking a Club room, or are willing to pay a supplement per night per room to get access, I think you will enjoy it here. The public areas are also very attractive and I believe that dinner at Theo Randall comes highly recommended.
The location is obviously great, but there are plenty of other hotels on Park Lane. You can walk out of the InterContinental and be in the Four Seasons within 30 seconds. In some ways the Crowne Plaza Kensington or the Indigo Earls Court, which I also visited as part of the IHG partner day, have more to offer in terms of style and value for money.
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