This is Part 2 of my review of the brand new InterContinental London O2 hotel.
Part 1 of InterContinental London O2 review can be found here and focussed on the location and the (high) quality of the rooms. Here I will look at the club lounge, gym, pool and restaurant.
The executive lounge
Two HFP readers happened to be staying in the InterContinental London O2 at the same time and I met them in the Club Lounge so I could take some photographs. It is an impressive facility.
I should, in retrospect, have paid the £75 supplement as an Ambassador to get access. The hotel charged us £94.50 for restaurant breakfast – £21 + 12.5% compulsory service charge (it was a buffet …..) x 4 people. We didn’t even get a discount for our 5-year old. It would have been more sensible to pay £75 for the lounge, especially as that allows you to eat breakfast in the restaurant anyway!
There was a decent hot and cold canape selection as well as a range of drinks – I had an English sparkling rose which is not something you see every day. What is not pictured, because it was very dark, is a large dining area which is actually bigger than the sofa area shown.
The problem with the lounge is that the food and drink stop as 7pm. For a hotel aimed at the Canary Wharf finance community, this is ludicrous. (Not my words, but the words of one of the HFP readers in the hotel who happens to work in the Canary Wharf finance community!)
I don’t ‘do’ gyms, but this one is seems OK (IC Park Lane, to be fair, has a well regarded gym as well). The InterContinental London O2 gym even has a bit of natural daylight.
The spa (ESPA) and pool are on the ground floor. The pool is stunning as you can see:
There is also a jacuzzi out of shot. Children are restricted to two 90 minute slots per day. Most parents, including us, seemed to be of the opinion that if kids are banned for the remaining 21 hours of the day then they should be able to do what they like during these two periods so it got a little wild. I would keep away during those hours if you don’t have kids!
Because we had the kids with us, we didn’t eat in either of the restaurants or visit the rooftop bar (I’m not even sure if it is open yet – the doors were locked at 6pm when I went up to take a photo). Dinner was via room service, which was perfectly fine except for the annoying £5 ‘tray charge’ which is simply a con. There is some justification if room service is offering a copy of the hotel restaurant menu for the same prices but that is very rarely the case.
It is worth noting that the main Peninsula Restaurant offers 50% off food if you dine between 6pm and 8pm.
The Market Brasserie restaurant used for breakfast is bright and spacious:
and the food was very good – although £94.50 for two adults and two small children is obviously a joke. Note that £94.50 was for continental breakfast only and we had to promise not to order any a la carte options.
Everyone we dealt with was courteous, warm and friendly. That said, housekeeping walked into the room our kids were sleeping in at 9.30pm for turndown, which is about three hours too late in my book. The receptionist only gave us keys for one of our two rooms as they were interconnected – but she didn’t know that, without the EXACT room key for a room, you cannot turn on the lights. (You can’t use your IHG membership card or even a room key for another room.)
The two HFP readers I spoke with – one was on his fourth stay – also reported issues. One had ordered an Eggs Benedict for breakfast which bizarrely came made with turkey, for example. Another had ordered a burger from room service only to be told that the only option was ‘well done’ – presumably because the burgers are pre-cooked and reheated, which is not exactly five star material. There were other stories, mainly linked to the staff being very young and almost exclusively not native English speakers.
InterContinental London O2 is a very accomplished hotel. Ignore my little gripes which should disappear as the hotel settles down. Sitting on your very comfortable bed, in your light and modern room, looking out through the ‘floor to ceiling’ windows at the river and Canary Wharf, is very pleasant indeed.
The fact that you can do this on a Friday or Saturday night on some weekends in June or July for as little as £104 makes it remarkable value for money. I would be tempted to pay the extra for a Club room as long as you will be there between 5pm and 7pm for drinks and canapes, as well as for breakfast. Come, use the pool and take it easy – there are worse ways to spend your time.
Apart from location, there genuinely isn’t anything about it that the InterContinental London Park Lane does better, at often 4 x the price. The only thing I would change immediately is extending food and drink in the lounge beyond 7pm. In time, it also needs to upgrade the access routes from the tube.
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