This is my review of the London Hilton on Park Lane hotel.
Back in April, we covered a special promotion that Hilton was running to celebrate the 55th anniversary of the Hilton London Park Lane. 55 rooms were being sold at £55 each. Most of them ended up being booked by Head for Points readers.
If you live or work in West London then the Hilton London Park Lane is literally hard to avoid. I have seen it numerous times per week for the last couple of decades, I have eaten in the restaurant and I’ve had family stay there.
It also intrigued me, because it is Hilton’s best known hotel in London. It is where the Beatles met Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, it has been bombed by the IRA and it is where Dolores O’Riordan of the Cranberries died in January. Even better, it turns out that this is where the Pools Panel used to meet every Saturday to decide that Rotherham United vs Barnsley would have been a 2-2 draw had Millmoor not been waterlogged.
It is, however, a long way from being the most luxurious Hilton in London despite its Park Lane location and neighbours (Four Seasons, Metropolitan, Dorchester, Grosvenor House etc). That award goes to the Conrad London St James in Victoria which I reviewed here.
I had never actually taken a proper look inside Hilton Park Lane. Given that my Diamond status was good for executive lounge access and free breakfast, I paid my £55 and booked myself in to take a look.
London Hilton on Park Lane is not a hugely attractive building although it certainly isn’t the worst 1960’s tower in London. Hilton can’t do much about that, but they could have done something about the interiors.
The reception area, in particular, is a 1980s throwback. The doorman ignored me whilst talking to a chauffeur he clearly knew. On your right as you enter is the entrance heading down to Trader Vic’s, the polynesian restaurant in the basement which I have managed to avoid for the last 25 years.
A Middle Eastern jewellery boutique is on your right, and the whole feel – down to the smell and the dark wood and brass furnishings – gives the impression of a first generation Dubai hotel.
Check-in was swift and polite. No-one mentioned my £55 rate although it was printed on the check-in document.
I was upgraded from a standard King room (floors 5-8) to a King Executive Deluxe. As I was a Diamond the ‘Executive’ bit made no difference as I was getting lounge access anyway. An Executive Deluxe gets you a room on floors 18 to 27 (I got 18!) as well as slippers and a robe. I think that’s it.
I once put my brother in here on a points stay – booked from my account as a Hilton Gold – and he got upgraded to a suite so big it had a full dining table in it! That clearly wasn’t happening here.
It is hard to dislike a hotel room which is 18 floors up and which half-faced Hyde Park, basking in the Spring sun. I wasn’t so high that I was looking down on the park, but I was high enough to take in the full vista.
The view was the best bit. The rest was a bit, well, dull. The Executive Deluxe rooms are described as ‘modern style’ so there may be older rooms elsewhere in the building.
Everything was working and correct – a decent desk and chair, lots of sockets, lots of lights, a suitable comfy bed, a sofa chair – but it lacked any sort of ‘wow’ factor apart from the view. Some furniture seemed new, other bits like the desk seemed older.
The bathroom continued the ‘decidedly average’ theme. Again, perfectly acceptable but there was no stand-alone shower, only one sink and the toiletries were the boring Hilton ‘Peter Thomas Roth’ brand. I seemed to have the full Roth collection here including the lesser-spotted toothbrushes, mouthwash and shaving kit.
That said, the more time I spent there the more it grew on me. The view was astonishing, although not all front-facing rooms can see the park because of the odd shape of the facade. It took me a while to realise that I had got lucky or had been given a good one as a Diamond.
The executive lounge
I was here for afternoon tea, evening canapes and breakfast. The lounge is split into two rooms of similar size. Weirdly, possibly for the Middle Eastern market, the alcohol is in one room in the evening whilst the food is in the other. This is a bit inconvenient.
The highlight was afternoon tea. The hotel sells afternoon tea in its 28th floor Galvin-run restaurant so the kitchen is already geared up to making impressive scones, macarons etc. I liked it a lot.
The evening spread was also good and you could get enough here to save yourself from having to eat out if you were busy. There was a large salad bar, some chicken and mini polenta, rice, noodle and quiche lorraine dishes. There was prosecco, including rose, and a wide range of wines and spirits. No champagne.
The breakfast also compared well to what was on offer downstairs, and there were some items – Coco Pops! – which were only in the lounge.
Unfortunately the lounge is let down by its too-brown furnishings and general lack of atmosphere. It was frustrating. The London Hilton on Park Lane is easy to sum up – it puts a lot of effort into ensuring that everything is ‘good enough’ but does not push the boat out anywhere.
Breakfast at Hilton London Park Lane was a real let-down. I decided to have two breakfasts in the name of research. Restaurant breakfast is served in the Podium cafe on the ground floor.
When I went in I was shocked at how small the space was for a 28-floor hotel. There were fewer than 100 seats and obviously people don’t want to share, so in reality it could probably handle 40 rooms at a time at most. Even then, only a handful of seats were occupied at 7.15am although it was a little busier by 8am. The lounge only had around 10 guests at 9am when I popped in.
Breakfast was just ‘fine’. Apart from a couple of impressive looking muffins, the word that kept coming to mind was ‘average’. Average choice, average presentation and frankly a below-average room to eat it in. It was just ….. ‘meh’.
I didn’t check out the fitness centre or the casino. I have eaten in the 28th floor restaurant before, which also has a smart bar. This is run independently and attracts a huge amount of outside custom so you should make reservations in advance if you are staying here.
The London Hilton on Park Lane is ‘only’ a Hilton and comparing it to, say, InterContinental Paris Le Grand is unfair. The room was on a par with the tired one I had last time I stayed at InterContinental London Park Lane, reviewed here. The InterCon has funkier public areas however.
In truth if I could be certain to get a room with a similar view on future stays I would go back. Hotel rooms, even luxury ones, tend to merge into each other after a while but the view of London you get here really stands out.
Elsewhere, I felt that the hotel was really catering for the Middle Eastern market. The scent in reception, the Moussaieff jewellery boutique and the separation of the alcohol in the lounge all made me feel that I was abroad rather than in London.
At the end of the day this may all be moot anyway. Plans are underway to turn the majority of the hotel into apartments. London Hilton on Park Lane may have hit its 55th birthday but it may not reach its 60th.
The London Hilton on Park Lane website is here if you want to find out more or book.
How to earn Hilton Honors points from UK credit cards (November 2020)
There are various ways of earning Hilton Honors points from UK credit cards. Many cards also have generous sign-up bonuses!
Do you know that holders of The Platinum Card from American Express receive FREE Hilton Honors Gold status for as long as they hold the card? It also comes with Marriott Bonvoy Gold, Radisson Rewards Gold, Shangri-La Golden Circle Jade and MeliaRewards Gold status. We reviewed American Express Platinum in detail here and you can apply here.
Did you know that the Virgin Atlantic credit cards are a great way of earning Hilton Honors points? Two Virgin Points can be converted in three Hilton Honors points. You can apply here.
You can also earn Hilton Honors points indirectly via American Express Gold, the American Express Rewards Credit Card and – for small business owners – American Express Business Gold and Business Platinum.
(Want to earn more hotel points? Click here to see our complete list of promotions from the major hotel chains or use the ‘Hotel Promos’ link in the menu bar at the top of the page.)