A night out in the West End usually necessitates a stay over for us; the last train out to the West Country usually leaves before we’re even out of the theatre! So we either stay, or train out to Basingstoke and then drive the hour and a half on from there. Not ideal! In the end, we usually make a trip out of it and stay the night – come on, if you’re in the West End you might as well, mightn’t you? Besides, who feels like rushing home? Of course you want to prolong your evening into the small hours. Last week we headed up to London for a much-anticipated visit to the theatre to see Chicago (*pauses to swoon giddily at the memory*), and were fortunate to be invited for a Thistle Trafalgar Square Hotel review.
That being the case, we’re always on the hunt for a decent hotel recommendation that’s walking distance from Theatreland. Last week we got off the train and headed to Trafalgar Square to the Thistle – and I’ll admit it. We approached with a sinking feeling. This is not a hotel with kerb appeal. In fact… it may be one of the ugliest hotels I’ve had the pleasure of staying in. Squashed into a teeny tiny little back lane behind the National Portrait Gallery, the drab grey concrete office block-esque facade would certainly encourage me to keep walking if I hadn’t booked…
But we did have a booking, so we kept walking and found the entrance. The lovely, chic, modern, attractive welcoming entrance…
Step between the white pillars, and all of a sudden you find yourself in a rather lovely London hotel after all.
Gorgeous. And naturally, you immediately forget how the outside looks – after all, you don’t need your hotel to look pretty outside when you’re in it. You need the inside to feel warm and welcoming – and for the reception staff to greet you with a smile. Thistle Trafalgar totally win this; despite dealing with a rather awkward (and grumpy) guest trying to check in before us, our own arrival was quick and simple, and warm with a genuine smile.
We’d been travelling for a few hours, and were keen to freshen up so we didn’t loiter in the lobby but headed straight up to our room on the third floor. And what a nice room it was!
As is usual, the bathroom was on the right as we entered, creating a small hallway before entering the room itself. This was just a Standard double, but it felt light and airy, with more than enough room around the frankly enormous king size bed.
The bathroom was neatly designed for a small space, with most of it given over to the fabulous waterfall shower (and for the many of us who are a little over-keen on such things, it was absolutely spotless). There was the tiny issue of the slightly odd placement of the toilet; if you’re tall like me than your knees did almost hit the wall, and it felt a little like wee-ing in a cupboard!
Storage space was plentiful, the iron in the wardrobe was super-handy and having room for a chair and a small desk was perfect. And let’s just appreciate again the size of that bed shall we?
And yes. It was just as comfortable as you’d hope for. It was a struggle to leave it once you had given in to the temptation and stretched out on that wide expanse of comforting bed-love.
And although we were literally in the very heart of London – just a minute’s walk from Trafalgar Square – the noise never bothered us at all, and we weren’t in the least disturbed throughout our stay. The view from the window was worth more than a quick glance, too – you can’t see the lions in Trafalgar Square, sadly, but from our window we looked across the roof of the Portrait Gallery, and could see across to the south Bank, with the tops of so many iconic London buildings in view that it’ll keep any visitor happy identifying them.
When we left for the theatre we were less than a ten minute walk from the Phoenix Theatre, perfect in even the dressiest of evening heels, and only 5 minutes from Leicester Square where we had enjoyed our post-theatre dinner and wine (or three…). We honestly could not have enjoyed a more perfect location for making the most of a quick visit to the city.
Breakfast was served in the restaurant (we hadn’t dined in, so I can’t comment on the evening restaurant offering), and was a plentiful hot and cold buffet – everything you’d expect in a ‘Full English’, along with a more continental array of pastries, fresh fruit salad, yoghurts and pancakes. And naturally, the all-important coffee machine. We arrived right at the end of breakfast time, but the food was still hot and plentiful (no cool rubbery leftovers in the egg department!) and we felt in no way rushed to finish and leave; there were still a few tables chatting over the last of their coffees as we left to collect our bag.
We weren’t rushing off to the station, so we made use of the hotel’s baggage store and after checking out we spent a couple of hours meandering around the Portrait Gallery before sauntering through the sunshine for lunch in Covent Garden.
Thank you Thistle Trafalgar Square – we’ll certainly be back.
A Standard Double Room at the Thistle Trafalgar Square starts at £152 a night; looking at their monthly calendar (scroll down on the bookings page to see prices for the month surrounding your selected dates) it seems the best rates are available on Sunday nights. Book direct on their own website for the best rates.