“ WHITEHALL COURT / LONDON / SW1A 2EJ / Tel: +44 / 207 / 8393400 / Fax: +44 / 207 / 9252263. „
I was recently summoned to London to attend a national meeting of all the regional co-ordinators of what I do. I was nervous about going as I hadn't met any of them in person and only knew a couple of them from talking on the phone, and I knew that of the 20 or so people attending, I would be the only one going by myself. When I was sent the link to the hotel that we would be staying in however, my mood lifted somewhat! And what's more, this is one of those rare things that is actually as nice, if not better, in real life than it is portrayed on the internet.
The Royal Horseguards Hotel is a Grade I listed building situated in Whitehall Court on the bank of the Thames, directly opposite the London Eye and close to Charing Cross Station. It was built in 1884 and has maintained the original French chateau-style exterior, though the interior has been modernised (and recently refurbished, according to the website). I should point out that the hotel is now owned by the Guoman group and not the Thistle as stated.
It is very easy to find, just two minutes from Embankment tube station, which is served by the Bakerloo, Circle, District and Northern lines and it took me half an hour from King's Cross. I, however, could get lost in my own house and ended up wandering in the back way through the restaurant, so probably did not get the full effect of the impressive reception area. The girl on reception was very helpful and friendly; offering me a complimentary newspaper and early morning call, and check in was smooth.
The Royal Horseguards has 280 bedrooms and an undisclosed number of "well-appointed suites", though as mine was a small room at the back of the hotel, I suspect whoever organised it was going for the cheapest option. This made no difference to me though, it's definitely the plushest place I've ever stayed!
It was obvious that the rooms had recently been refurbished, the carpets, curtains and bedding were all tasteful, brand new and of good quality. It was quite a business-oriented bedroom with a large desk and plenty of hotel stationery, but there was also a large flat-screen TV mounted on the wall (with international channels including French, German, Italian, Spanish and Russian, from what I could decipher, Sky Sports and 10 radio stations) and brand new copies of some magazines on the table: Marie Claire, Harpers Bazaar and (presumably for the gents) Golfing International.
I was impressed by all the technological switches and gadgets and spent a good half hour pressing buttons to see what would happen. There was an iPod docking station set into the wall which plays your music into the room and bathroom, 3 different lighting 'moods' for the room, and instead of having 'Do Not Disturb' and 'Please Clean Room' door hangers, they had a button to press to light up your request on the front of the door! There was a temperature control on the wall which I kept trying to ramp up because I'm a cold creature by nature, but this kept on reverting back to 26C.
There was of course all the usual hotel stuff like safe, ice bucket, a well-stocked but pricey mini-bar (e.g. a vodka was £6.50 and a 275ml bottle of Becks £4.10); coffee and tea making facilities including ground coffee and cafetiere and a proper teapot; two dressing gowns and slippers, a decent hairdryer and an iron and board. A lot of this stuff was crammed into the wardrobe though which didn't leave a lot of room for clothes.
The bathroom was small but absolutely lovely - again tastefully decorated and spotless. It had a heated towel rail and under-floor heating, a main mirror (which must have also been heated because the middle area did not steam up) plus a smaller lighted magnifying mirror, all the usual toiletries and real flannels. And the most exciting part of my whole stay - I was twiddling the knobs outside the bathroom door, when a TV flickered on inside the shower! Now maybe I'm showing my provincial-ness here, but I've never even heard of having a TV in the shower. Of course I used it, just because I could, but I have to say I felt a little bit uncomfortable having Bill Turnbull quite so close to my bare bot!
According to the website, prices start from £149 for a 'Deluxe' double/twin room and go up to £459 for a Double Suite.
Arrangements had been made for all 20 colleagues to dine together on the first evening, so I made my way nervously down to meet them in the lobby. At the bar I ordered a white wine spritzer thinking that I'd better take it easy as I didn't want to get drunk and embarrass myself in front of strangers. At £7.50 a glass though there was no danger of that and I managed to make it last! A small glass of wine came to £6.50.
As we were a large group, we were allocated a side room to eat in and this was very relaxed and nicely set out, with silver candelabras and relaxed jazz playing in the background. As the evening wore on though I did notice that the music became more and more grating with jungle beats mixed in - call me paranoid but I think they were trying to get us to vacate the room so they could clear up!
We were given a set menu with not a lot of choice. I opted for the Duck a l'Orange for starter which was beautiful, and I was assured that the alternative Tomato and Mozzarella Salad was also tasty. The main was Sirloin Steak with Mushrooms and Vegetables and I found this very enjoyable, however, they did not ask us how we'd like our steak and when it came out it was too rare for some (I have lived in France so can cope with anything!). No steak knives were available either, despite several people requesting them, and this made cutting it with any kind of decorum quite difficult. The vegetarian option of Cous Cous looked rather insubstantial I have to say. I was enjoying my dessert of White & Dark Chocolate Creme Brulee until someone remarked that it looked like shepherd's pie, and when the coffees came I was delighted with the little silver cake stands holding the chocolates.
I found the waiting staff very good, continuously replenishing our water and always on hand if we needed anything, yet we never felt like they were crowding us.
I didn't bother with breakfast the next morning as I knew coffee and pastries would be available in the conference room, but my colleagues did and it got some rave reviews!
We were in the Chelsea Suite which was set out in Boardroom style (everyone sitting around a long table), with a screen at one end. It was relaxed and suitable for the meeting we were having, although it was a little bit cramped when we were all up and moving about at lunch and break times. The hotel had provided each delegate with headed paper, a pen and glass, and there were bottles of still and sparkling water on the table.
Coffee, tea, orange juice and pastries were waiting for us when we arrived; the choice of coffees and teas was great but I found the glazed pastries a little sweet and cloying. The coffee and tea flasks were replenished discretely throughout the day without prompting and we never ran short.
The working lunch was tasty and substantial, consisting of sandwiches, wraps, quiche, skewers, fruit and sweets and lots more that I can't remember now, and the only thing I can pick fault with is that their vegetarian options were not clearly labelled.
Overall, I was very impressed with this hotel, it was a big departure from the places I normally stay and it was nice to see how the other half live!
More information can be found at: http://www.theroyalhorseguards.co.uk/
We recently stayed at this hotel for 3 nights. We paid the bulk of it with Tesco vouchers - every £10 of vouchers gives you £40 in hotel vouchers. This is not the cheapest hotel about but you do get what you pay for! As we were using our vouchers we decided to spoil ourselves.
The hotel is built in the style of a French Chateau and is a grade 1 listed building. It is in the Whitehall district and is a very historic building. The rooms have been recently modernised, but still have a lovely old feel to them whilst providing all mod cons.
We arrived at 10.30am as we had taken an early morning flight down and went to leave our luggage at the hotel until we could check in. We were delighted to be told that they had upgraded us to a king bed and had a room ready, but if we wanted a view it would be a bit extra and we would have to wait for a room to be ready. As we had plans for each evening we decided we did not need a view.
We were taken up to our room through marble corridors and were delighted with the room. It was very spacious - especially compared to previous rooms we have had in London. The quality of all the furniture and fittings was very high.
Our bed was about 7 foot wide, bigger than our superking at home. We had two leather chairs and a large footstool, flatscreen tv, minibar, robes, slippers, plenty storage space, iron, ironing board, hairdryer, tea/coffee making facilities and even an umbrella to use if we needed it. There was also an i-pod docking station which was lovely and also played into the ensuite, which was well equiped with all the usual toiletries, mending kit etc and a large shower with flat screen tv and heated floor.
We were not disturbed by any noise throughout our stay and thought the location was fantastic. We were going to a concert at the O2 and this was easy to get to as the Westminster tube station was only a 5 minute walk away and takes you directly to the 02. The Embankment tube station was a 2 minute walk away and great if you wanted to use the Bakerloo, District, Circle or Northern lines.
The hotel overlooks the Thames and is directly opposite the London Eye, so also provides a lovely walk back at night with everything lit up. It is only a 5-10 minute walk to the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben and to the riverboat cruises and just a walk accross the bridge to the London Eye.
Breakfast was buffet style, but tea/coffee and - a big plus in my eyes - toast was served to your table - I hate the toasting machines used in most hotels now! The quality was very good and we found all the staff in the hotel very efficient and helpful.
We would certainly stay here again, especially if able to get a special offer, although it is worth paying a bit extra for. I would especially recommend this for visitors from other countries who want a great location combined with a real sense of experiencing a piece of history. It does have a feeling of staying at a private club, which at one time it was.
This hotel was booked for a February weekend break on our way home from Disneyland Paris. We had booked a deluxe family room for two nights at a special rate of £200 per night including breakfast.
For more than 100 years, The Royal Horse guards has graced the banks of the Thames with its elegant, imposing presence. Its architectural heritage has earned it Grade I listed status, and made it one of London's most iconic buildings.
*Arrival at the hotel & check in*
As mentioned above, we were heading for a London weekend on our way home from Disneyland Paris with two children in tow. We arrived at London Waterloo around 8pm on the Friday evening and promptly took a taxi across the river to The Horse guards.
When we arrived, the concierge came instantly to help us out of the taxi with our bags.
Bearing in mind that we had been out and about plus travelling all day mid February, we were dressed in warm winter clothes, obviously not eh smartest and looking tired and dishevelled, the concierge suddenly seemed to have completely changed his attitude towards us & seemed to have little regard for us due to our appearance. How pretentious!
Not very good first impressions at all.
As we entered the hotel, we were greeted by a large well lit marble and wooden reception area and the public areas were well furnished, comfortably and elegantly.
I was called over by the receptionist and proceeded to check in. It was here that I was yet to be disappointed. When we had booked our family deluxe room over the telephone, as mentioned we had reserved a family deluxe room but it turns out that this particular employee had made a mistake and booked us a twin deluxe room, no wonder it seemed so cheap! Panic attacked as I was told that the hotel had no family rooms left and that she would have to speak top her manager to see what could be arranged. As we waited, I looked around and saw very tired twins whom wanted nothing more than to climb into a comfortable bed, one which at present, we didn't have!
*Did they save the day?*
The receptionist finally came back and very apologetically informed me that she was sincerely sorry about the mix up and the manager had suggested another room, if we were happy to take a sofa bed for the children and also it wouldn't have the London eye views, however if we weren't happy we could change rooms the following day.
Very tired and annoyed, I accepted and we were give our key. Off we went and followed the directions to our room. We left the lift and found the door to our room. We then opened the door and found that there was a flight of stairs. We were baffled but continued up them to find another door in which our other key fitted...
*Our 'new' room*
So we opened the door and found a marble corridor with sculptures and artwork on the walls. There were doors off this corridor which were a large bathroom, an en suite bedroom, a lounge area with sofas, fireplace and magazines and a kitchenette. They had given the suite! Who cared about our view, we were staying here for the next two nights!
So... the suite... well the bathroom and en suite were marbled with robes, slippers and Molton Brown toiletries. The bedroom had a large wardrobe, TV, dressing table, large bed with very comfortable bedding and very well decorated. The lounge area had big comfortable leather sofas which were made up into beds and around 20-30 upmarket magazines to read. The kitchenette wouldn't be used by us but was quite small but with very modern and expensive gadgets and well laid out.
We had hit the jackpot & we couldn't believe our luck!
*bar & restaurant areas*
The bar area in the Horse guards is on the smaller side for the size of the hotel but is comfortable and well furnished with a wide selection of bar snacks and drinks, especially wines. The bar area that I was particularly fond of was the Terrace area and as the public areas in my opinion were a little over heated, but then I guess that this could be a marketing ploy to sell more refreshments. The terrace is very cosy with sophisticated patio furniture and beautiful candles to light up the area in the dark.
The restaurant was superb . We had the pleasure of eating here one of the evenings and experiencing the hotels AA rosette award winning restaurant. One Twenty One Two attracts discriminating gourmets from around the world. With an inviting piano bar, innovative menus, fine wines and exemplary service, One Twenty One Two is contemporary dining at its very best.
This would be a much recommended restaurant for serious food lovers.
As breakfast was included in our rate, we took breakfast in the Horse guards each morning. The breakfast buffet was lovely. A choice of continental or full English breakfast is on offer within a light and airy breakfast room. The table service is fast, efficient and friendly.
The hotel is situated in a quiet road in Whitehall. Just off the banks fot he Thames and in very easy walking distance of Covent Garden, Trafalgar square, Big Ben and The London eye. A very central and well located hotel.
* Would we stay again?*
The answer to this question is probably. Although, there were some teething problems to begin with, they were well ironed out by the staff. We had a fabulous room, sorry, suite to stay in plus the hotel was comfortable and chic with friendly and polite staff on hand to make the stay as enjoyable as possible.