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Jewel in the Crowne
Crowne Plaza (London - St James)
Member Name: Picasso
Crowne Plaza (London - St James)
Date: 24/07/08, updated on 04/01/10 (219 review reads)
Advantages: Location, good restaurants and excellent customer service.
Disadvantages: UHT Milk
Last month, I checked out the hotel's website with a view to booking a room for a couple of nights. I was having difficulty with my computer and decided to ring the hotel direct. There is a central number for Crowne Plaza reservations but experience has taught me that if you can speak directly to hotel staff you get a better service. The receptionist was very helpful and her advice on types of rooms available very useful. I had requested a standard no smoking room, but she explained that that standard rooms were only allocated on arrival. The last time I spent a night in a smoking room, it stank of cigars as did the bed linen. Picking up on my vibes, the receptionist asked me to hold the line. A few seconds later, she informed me that she had upgraded my room and allocated me a no smoking superior room for the same price. My experience had paid off.
The hotel is a traditional 4 star deluxe and is situated in Westminster. On Saturday we arrived at the hotel by taxi. The door was immediately opened by the hotel's door man and a porter appeared from nowhere to take our luggage. The reception was a little busy and it we had a wait of around 15 minutes. Our Brazilian receptionist was very pleasant and informative and apologised for our wait. She gave us directions to our room and only then did we realise that our luggage had been taken ahead of us and was waiting for us when we got to our room.
Our room had a massive bed, big enough for four people. It came with eight pillows and on both nights, I lost hubby amongst the snow white linen. There was plenty of space to house the television, desk and chair, dining table and chair, mini bar and ample clothing space. There was internet access, ironing board with iron and a hairdryer. The bathroom was of a good size but the bath a little narrow. The usual toiletries and plenty of towels were neatly displayed. Notice that I said table and chair and desk and chair. This was my only niggle. Although the room was large, it appeared to only cater for one person. If we had wanted to dine in the room, one of us would have to use the desk chair and the other, the dining chair. We wouldn't have been sat at the same level -a bit like Peter Kay's house on Christmas Day! Add to that, there was only one bathrobe and one pair of bathroom slippers. Tea and coffee facilities did not include herbal or fruit teas and came with UHT milk. I did ask for fresh milk and this was brought immediately. I stored this in the mini bar and it kept for the two days of our stay. I do wish hotels would provide fresh milk as standard especially when a fridge or mini bar is to hand.
The hotel boasts three restaurants, Bistro 51, Quilon and Bank. There are two bars, Hamptons which also serves snacks throughout the day and the very chic Zander Bar. On our last stay, we dined at Bistro 51. This is a very pleasant room, decorated in lemon and blue. The menu is extensive and includes meat, fish and vegetarian. There is also a set menu, three courses for £21 with a choice of three per course. On Saturday evening we decided to eat at Bank Westminster. This is a light and airy restaurant set in the hotel's conservatory and overlooking the Victorian courtyard. We were very fortunate with the weather and on this sunny evening, tables were set in the courtyard too. Surrounded by colourful bushes and beautiful flowers, we thought we would make the most of it and plumped for alfresco dining. Again the menu is extensive with a modern British flavour. Starters range from £4 to £7 and mains from £9 to £20 plus. Char grilled prawns followed by chicken with coconut and sweet potatoes and washed down with a very cold bottle of Pinot Grigio proved to be an excellent choice. We sat out until around 11 and reflected on our recent Greek holiday, having to remind ourselves that this was indeed England.
On our last night, we booked a table at Quilon, a south Indian restaurant which is adjacent to the hotel. We had met with some vegetarian friends and having looked at the menu, this looked like a well chosen venue. When dining with veggie friends or family, we also eat vegetarian. Most dishes priced at around £9. I ordered steamed asparagus spears "tempered with olive oil, mustard leaves and fresh grated coconut". The other three all ordered the mini Masala dosa, thin rice and lentil pancakes "filled with tempered potatoes, served with sambar" For our mains we chose four dishes to share, potato and cauliflower with fresh fenugreek leaves, mixed vegetable green curry, chickpea masala and a mango curry. I have to admit that this is one of the best, tastiest and interesting meals I have had in a long time. The service was second to none. At the end of the meal, I completed the little questionnaire and had nothing negative to quote.
Breakfast is served in Bistro 51 and was delightful. There was the full range of everything possible for an English/American breakfast. However, I didn't feel the need for cooked food and plumped for the healthier option of fresh fruit including figs, prunes and apricots, Bircher muesli and fresh orange juice. Danish pastries, pan au chocolat and croissants were also available.
There are spa facilities in the hotel and a gym, but no pool. I didn't feel the need or have the energy for the gym and although a spa treatment would have been nice, I didn't have the time.
We used the express check out service when we left. Our bill had been put through the door on the morning of departure and everything was in order. I did however complete the hotel's feedback form "Let's serve you better" and left it with the receptionist. I think my filling in questionnaire forms comes from years of working in customer service. It's very rewarding receiving compliments and 99% of my feedback was positive. We paid £155 per night for a standard room and breakfast, but the superior room we were allocated would have cost another £40.
I have been to London many times and stayed in hotels in most districts. This hotel is a gem of a find. The location is wonderful in that it's a quiet little oasis and yet within walking distance to Buckingham Palace, Trafalgar Square and Covent Garden. The walk to and from the hotel along the mall or through St James's Park is literally a breath of fresh air. Being claustrophobic and with the fear of underground attacks, I haven't caught the tube for years. Where I can, I walk and if it's too far, I catch a cab. Having walked my socks off throughout the day, it is very convenient to be able to take a relaxing bath or shower and choose one of the excellent hotel restaurants or opt for the 24 hour room service. On both occasions I have found the staff to be charming and very helpful. Unless the service and standards drops, I shall be using this hotel for all my trips to London.
Just received my post and received a very nice letter from the hotel. The Rooms Division Manager states "the points you have raised have been shared with the team here at CP. We hope to have fresh milk in the mini bar by the time you visit us again" I've also received an email from Quilon thanking me for my comments and offering me 10% off my next visit - how's that for service?
Summary: A London hotel in a peaceful location
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