Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

Review: InterContinental O2 hotel, London (part 2)

Links on Head for Points may pay us an affiliate commission. A list of partners is here.

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 at InterContinental O2

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!

InterContinental London O2 review club lounge

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.

InterContinental London O2 review executive lounge

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!)

The gym

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.

InterContinental London O2 review exterior

The pool

The spa (ESPA) and pool are on the ground floor.  The pool is stunning as you can see:

InterContinental London O2 review pool

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!

The restaurant

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:

InterContinental London O2 review breakfast

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.

Service

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.

Conclusion

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.

The hotel website is here if you want to find our more or book.


IHG Rewards Club update – December 2020:

Get bonus points: IHG’s current promotion is ‘2x’, which runs until 15th December 2020. You can learn more in our article here. You can register here using promo code 44480.

New to IHG Rewards Club?  Read our two-part overview of IHG Rewards Club here and here and our article on expiry rules here.

Buy points: If you need additional IHG Rewards Club points, you can buy them here.

Want to earn more hotel points?  Click here to see our complete list of promotions from IHG and the other major hotel chains or use the ‘Hotel Promos’ link in the menu bar at the top of the page.

Comments (36)

  • Kathy says:

    Before I started reading HfP I very naively thought that too-brand 5 star hotels, like an IC would provide a complimentary breakfast!!

  • Richard says:

    I don’t think the Club is worth it. The food selection in the evening was really small and the 5-7pm time slot doesn’t really work. The breakfast selection was very small also and for my order of eggs on toast, the eggs came first, then cold toast 10 minutes later! Hilton Canary Wharf lounge has a far better selection and a proper bean coffee machine! It’s just a shame the Hilton beds have got old.

  • James67 says:

    I think the basic rates are missleading, the real cost per night is room rate plus possible cost of joining ambassador plus any additional costs that might be incurred, which are potentially substantial. Now that many of us are Hilton Diamond and benefiting from free upgrades, lounge access, breakfast etc, much of what IHG has to offer seems pointless because they wont get their act together and reward spire. Based on your review there is no way I would trade my £116/night stay at Doubletree Westminster last week for this, even at £104/night. Granted, if one wanted to be in the area you could grab the room only for £104, pop along to the O2 for a freshly cooked as opposed to a buffer breakfast for a £5 and have dinner someplace there too. In such circumstances, or if redeeming IHG points, it may be a decent deal but is it really any better than staybridge suites at Stratford that can be had for 10k points less and comes with breakfast included?

    • Rob says:

      Depends why you are staying. If you want a nice break with your partner, great room, a swim, couple of drinks in the SkyBar, half price dinner in the restaurant (6-8), this works well.

      Telling your partner you are trading all that for a lower quality hotel in the Westfield shopping centre because you get a free breakfast would not be a relationship enhancer IMHO …..

      • James67 says:

        LOL, but putting saved cash in partners hand for the shops might be a winner, depends on partner ofcourse. Ultimately though, if the goal is enhancing and romancing in London I don’t think North Greenwich is going to cut it, IC or not. Park Plaza seems to be the preferred choice, of MPs on expenses for that purpose these days. For me, it woud just take a short stay at Hotel Chocolat to have me renewing my marriage vows..

        • Rob says:

          As I said in the review, the aim should be to avoid leaving the hotel if at all possible 🙂

          • Kathy says:

            Aww, I wouldn’t go that far. There’s a cinema in the O2 I use regularly, and Friday afternoon I played tourist and took the Thames Clipper up to Embankment from there. You could conceivable manage quite a pleasant sightseeing day from there without having to ever get on the tube.

        • Melvin says:

          I’m looking at using my Barclaycard reward night here with my wife and NO kids. Trust me, if we get to use the pool and spa, drink in the bar and then go to bed without interruptions from the 3 little ones then then my wife nor I couldn’t give a monkeys what is going on elsewhere in the big smoke! 😉

  • takke says:

    Re the well done burger issue: this is not uncommon at all. If you look at the Food Standards Authority website https://www.food.gov.uk/news-updates/news/2015/14419/fsa-board-decision-on-rare-burgers you will see that there is a list of requirements upon any business that wishes to serve rare burgers, which many businesses don’t choose to go through.

    • Alan says:

      Thanks for confirming with link. As I mentioned up thread minced meat is quite different to steak given the outside (most contaminated part) had been churned inside.

  • Chris says:

    Looks good. I’m quite looking forward to my stay here in July now.

    Any particular reason the hotel rebuffed your requests for a tour Rob? Given the rates I would have thought they would have grasped any opportunity to put more heads in beds.

    • Rob says:

      Genuinely no idea. I had someone at IHG Head Office call the General Manager AND the Sales & Marketing Manager and neither was keen. Because, obviously, getting your hotel onto a UK travel site with 1 million monthly page views – and which is one of IHG’s major UK partners – at zero cost is a really bad idea ….

      However, I was also told by someone who works for a Canary Wharf bank that the hotel is also making no effort to market itself to the companies who work in the big towers you can see through the window …. so who knows what is going on there? The fact the lounge food and drink closes at 7pm is a sign that odd things are going on.

      • Kathy says:

        Maybe they don’t feel they’re quite ready to be reviewed yet?

        • Rob says:

          It was fully open from the end of January. I actually told IHG I didn’t want to go before then for that reason.

      • Chris says:

        That is very bizarre although I’m not too surprised as my lot have offices just up the road at Stratford and we were told last year that it would be added as an accommodation option for certain grades and above, however around February we were told it wasn’t happening and no one seemed to be able to tell us why. Your comments above probably explain a lot.

        Still at just over £100 a night I’m not going to complain too much.

  • Stuart says:

    Great review, having been to this hotel a couple of times there are a couple of things I’d add.

    1) Events at the O2 will impact your stay: The majority of the time the hotel is at low occupancy and service is great. On one occasion we went to the hotel when there was a boxing match on and it was chaos. People everywhere, drunks walking around, girls taking their heels off in the bar, the Sky Bar turned into a tacky night club and access was turned down for those staying in the hotel, someone left a dog barking in their room?! Obviously the O2 may be your main reason for staying here but otherwise keep away if an event is on.

    2) The Peninsula Restaurant was excellent: We used the Open Table 50% discount on the tasting menu which is good value at full price anyway (£65 for 5 courses + a few extra canapés and palate cleansers). The staff were excellent and service was on par with the best of any Michelin restaurant around London. Sous vide sirloin was tough which was the only negative but in the grand scheme things I could let this pass. The 50% discount is about to end I believe so get in while you still can. The Sky Bar is with a pre/post drink and has a great lounge atmosphere when there isn’t an event at the O2.

  • Kimberly says:

    Thanks for the review. I’m getting ready to try it out in a couple of weeks, but unfortunately I couldn’t find the really outstanding rates. I think we’re paying £220 for a King Club room, which is still not bad for London.

    I’m curious to see how they’ll handle our upgrades and stuff since I’m Spire Royal Ambassador. It sounds like I shouldn’t count on getting a welcome gift for sure.