This week I was oh-so-super excited to be headed into London for a new experience – I had my very first ‘night at the opera’ (and before you roll your eyes… 1) everyone should go at least once, and 2) the ENO runs this amazing Opera Undressed scheme specially for opera virgins and it’s bloody brilliant).
But as is always the case, I needed a bed for the night; it’s just not possible for us to go into London from Dorset, see an evening show, and then actually make the last train home. Potentially we can drive to Basingstoke and train from there… but where’s the joy in a post-theatre 4hr journey home?? No. I want a post-theatre dinner with a large Merlot, thanks.
So I was keen to say yes when Thistle offered us a stay at the Kingsley Hotel in Holborn. Without actually looking up exactly where it was (I mean, come on, it’s London – it’s reachable, right?)…
So I was pretty happy when it turned out that the Kingsley is a mere 12 minute walk from Covent Garden. It couldn’t BE more perfectly located for a night in the West End.
Also – it’s pretty.
We’ve stayed in a Very Ugly Thistle Hotel before – and genuinely it matters not a jot once you’re in the door. But the Kingsley? It’s Edwardian from it’s (very very high) top to its (very very pretty) toes.
Step in the door and it’s my favourite kind of hotel welcome – the visible bones of a beautiful old building, with a super-contemporary facelift. I *want* to see that fabulous cast iron staircase and ceiling moulding and architraves
But also ? I love it when they’re combined with modern lighting and furniture. And of course a warm and welcoming smile (actually nothing beats that for a hotel’s first impression); the Kingsley scored on all levels.
“Following a recent extensive £10 million restoration and refurbishment program at the hotel, every area of the hotel has been transformed – our bedrooms have been completely modernised with a contemporary design and vibrant soft furnishings. Our public areas reflect the new contemporary style but retain elements of the hotel’s traditional Edwardian features. London landmarks like the British Museum and Covent Garden and Oxford Street are within easy walking distance. Just five minutes from Holborn and Tottenham Court Road Tube Stations.”
Quickly checked in (room 405, an Executive King Room) and headed up to our room.
So – hotel checklist then. In the door and ooh at the space. Eye the bed – but rules are rules. First stop is ALWAYS to the bathroom…
Crisply bright and clean, rainfall shower head and satisfyingly complicated shower/tap system.
(there ARE no taps. Marvellous. If you don’t spend the first 3 minutes of your shower figuring out how to turn the shower ON, then it’s not a proper hotel experience)
Plentiful towels on a lovely hot towel rail (despite TWO signs in the bathroom, Mr LittleStuff scorched an arm twice on it. Oddly, he didn’t like it as much me…)
So – bathroom essentials all checked (no branded toiletries, but I like the Thistle ones, so all’s good. Though I do wish they’d start having full-sized pump action ones in the shower, rather the the hideous plastic waste of those little bottles), it was tie to check the rest.
Come on, you know you do bathroom first. Everyone does. Why even bother with a hotel if you’re not getting a lush hotel bathroom?
The room is frankly huge. MORE than enough space for the two of us to dance across, to be fair. We tried it, just to see, and managed a perfectly respectable* cha cha.
And that enormous king size bed? SUPER comfortable. Really, properly, starfish and refuse-to-get-up comfortable.
Here in the room the essence of the lobby design was exactly the same – classic old bones, updated and modernised with sleek contemporary style.
Less of the old charm here – but that’s okay. There’s nothing terribly charming about creaky furniture and hard-to clean corners thick with the remains of 200 other guests. I’m more than happy for my hotel rooms to be modern and clean.
The Wi-Fi was password free (YES! Why don’t all hotels do this? If every guest can log in, just let them use it, don’t make it a painful log in process) and reliably speedy.
Alongside the usual essentials (iron, kettle, hairdryer, USB plug sockets, plenty of storage), it’s a nice touch that the contents of the mini fridge were free to consume (coke, Sprite, lager & G&T cans, plus still or sparkling water). Not loads, but a welcome option after a night out when you’re relaxing but not yet sleepy.
Something else we noticed was the warmth of the staff throughout our stay – you sort of expect reception staff to be friendly, it’s what they’re paid for. But when the morning cleaning staff in the hallway grin and wish you a great day you do tend to notice more. They cheered our mildly-grumpy fragile (hungover) heads up no end.
Breakfast was a decent buffet-style spread; all the usual options of a full English, plus cold meats, fruit/yoghurt, pastries etc. I did take a photograph or two, but it’s not terribly exciting to look at; suffice to say the fried eggs weren’t great, the scrambled were as good as buffet eggs can be, and the vege sausage was amazing. I had seconds.
Holborn itself is busy, bustling; and far less full of tourists than I expected. Being SO close to Covent Garden and the West End, I presumed it’d have a tidied-up, Leicester-Square-no-one-actually-lives-here feel. But no – just those few streets over, and it feels like a ‘normal’ area, with ordinary shops, and people simply going about life. It was good. And obviously being SO close to so many top places to visit make it an ideal location for anyone on a tourist visit; or who just might be popping to London for a night at he opera and missing their last train home…
We were gifted the room for review purposes by thistle; rates for a night at the Thistle Kingsley Hotel, Holborn currently start at £135 for a standard double on a Sunday night. Our midweek Executive King Room would have cost £220, with breakfast £10 per person.
*for people who can’t actually cha cha cha…