I'm back, and more or less restored to health. I have to say in terms of bad sicknesses to get as you're arriving some place, it's on top of the list (I can only imagine what it's like on a cruise ship, where it is also apparently prevalent). But enough of that.
I will no longer stay at ANY other hotel in London, because the Marriott West India Quay is the best in every respect except one: the first time traveler or only time traveler to London. (Jerry, is this why you feel the way you do about La Défense in Paris?). First of all, I've stayed at the Marble Arch several years ago (an unmitigated disaster in an area where I felt completely unsafe, and those of you who 'know' me know that doesn't happen easily) and the London County Hall every time since, paying or on points. The first time on points at the LCH was the best, when I got in immediately and was given a suite with great views. Every time since has diminished my opinion of that hotel, which is why I looked around. And oh, I'm so glad I did!
The West India Quay is spectacular! First of all (and imagine my condition, having been afflicted immediately after disembarking and wanting to get through customs fast, but having no coins to use facilities. I bought a Heathrow Express ticket, then still had no coins, so got a cab. Jerry is right, especially for getting to the WIQ -- there is almost no difference in what I paid between the combo of HE and cab in the early morning on Thursday (around 6am) and what I paid Sunday morning for a full cab all the way to my departure gate at LHR -- but it is about 100 GBP. I would NEVER usually pay this, but in both cases the circumstances were unusually. In the first case I would have died (laugh, if you will, but that's how I felt) if I did not get there soonest possible and the ATM was the best I could do. Going back I had to get to LHR on a Sunday before the tube and DLR starts running. So if you take my advice and stay at the WIQ and have a very very early flight, consider staying the night before at Heathrow.
The staff at WIQ is magnificent, from check-in at before 7:30am, to greetings as a very special member (oh, it's been a while - probably since the last time at the Athens Ledra) that I was treated so royally. It was discomfiting that I had to wait a short time to get my suitcase brought to my room (I'm a do it yourself type, and never so more so than that morning!), but I got a concierge floor level room (there are four, and most face the immediate dock canal and toward the City of London (esp if you have a zoom lens). Never has a bed felt so good in my life. It reminded me of my first and only stay at the Trocadéro in Paris, when Marriott mattresses were to die for (many, unfortunately, have gotten old, but not so at the WIQ). I haven't stayed at the Trocadéro since, because it isn't my part of Paris, so for those of you 'not frequent travelers' take this for what it is.
I do not particularly like London, except as most of you know now, the East End, City, British Museum area, and Docklands. But for the first time in all of my numerous trips to London to meet with publishers and do research I felt AT HOME. It is a wonderful area, a little more removed from the East End than I would have liked, but there are all sorts of fancy restaurants and chic shops and boutiques in Canada Mall, Cabot Square, and Canary Wharf.
Here is what I got on check-in and what turned out to be fully true:
- the 7th floor lounge is open 7 days a week
- on all those days, there is an afternoon treat from 2:30-5:30; hors d'oeuvres from 5:30 to 7:30 with free wine; and desserts from 7:30 to 9:30
- a delicious breakfast is served in the lounge on M-F 6:15-10:30 (very generous hours)
- on weekends, when breakfast is not served in the lounge (even though it's open so you can go in and grab cokes or juices early in the day), you get a comped breakfast in the Manhattan Grille, where they treat you not like a comped person but like a special guest. And what a breakfast! Choice of multiple omelets, eggs, breakfast meats, potatoes, all kinds of breads and fruits and juices, etc.
- the staff is fabulous on every level, from Fanny and Carmen in the lounge (pics to follow in the next post), to the two great concierges I spoke with -- the main guy is super. The secondary one on Saturday seemed not quite to get why I wanted to know the easiest way to get to Whitechapel (by foot or rail)
- the DLR literally is at the hotel (you'll see it in one of the pics). While you have to go out the near restaurant side door and hug the hotel to the left, it's right there. No walking at all.
- the hotel comps all elite members two free 'pressings' of garments
- while the note they give you asks you to consume every thing in the lounge, they are quite easy about that, so if you're tired or sick and trying to pretend not to be, you can take wine or juices back to your room
- the Manhattan Grille is superb, with a multilingual staff, and great food -- in fact, there are great restaurants all over the areas.
The pictures I'm attaching look out across the canal. I was on the 6th floor, so you can't see it in some. I LOVE this hotel. I may not have mentioned enough how comfortable its bed is. When you're feeling unwell and get one of those first ever type Marriott mattresses, it makes you never want to leave. I will ALWAYS stay here again when in London.
Really nice write-up. I'm glad you're doing so much better, profc.
I was wondering if those were retractable roofs on the building in the foreground of the last picture posted?
How many books have been published that you wrote? I hope those went meetings went well this time, too. I'm guessing they did.
This has become a very modernized area of London, so it's quite possible. Not sure about the retractable roofs, but it was a really cool area of London that I'd never experienced (which for me was good -- sorry Chris and Arkwright), and probably as close to Greenwich as Whitechapel. I really had to laugh when the substitute concierge seemed a bit taken aback when I asked about walking to Whitechapel. (Of course I could have done it -- all I wanted to do was make sure there were no overpasses or canals in the way.)
I've written three books completely my own and edited three others. I LOVE writing and research! Alas, most meetings were cancelled, but my trip through Whitechapel, Spitalfields and Bethnal Greens (in completely different directions than tours or my own previous trips had taken me) led me back to the hotel where I started folding annotated Victorian maps in all sorts of ways that totally inspired me for the Whitechapel 1888 chapter of my History of Fear book. I'm sure who did it now. But I'm not saying!
So you hint of a mystery. Is it like the foldings of dollar bills to show the World Trade Center towers burning? Did you take pictures?
It sounds like a really nice trip and you had nice surroundings in which to recuperate, but the weather didn't look like it was helping.
It looked like one of the blue umbrellas collapsed from the weight of the ice and snow.
Fortunately the weather was at its worst when I was sickest and couldn't move. By the third day -- morning at least, when I went out -- it was sunny and not too cold. Actually there was no ice or snow -- what looks like snow on trees were Christmas trees lit with white bulbs.
I have about 200 photos of East End London and the specific sites.
I've read ALL the books on Jack (except the stupid ones) as well as on the East End in late Victorian England. There is someone out there with profiling experience who had a map theory, but I wasn't basing my conjecture on that. I took the best map from the time that had big circles for all the possible murders as well as major sites, then added more, like pubs the victims frequented and other sites. Then I folded the map for the two most distant W-E sites (Mitre Square and the old Buck's Row, now Durward Street) and two most N-S (Hanbury to Berner St [now Henrique St]). That left only one more fold of other sites. Very near to the center of all the folds was where one of the prominent suspects lived most of his adult life. I'm far from the first to suggest the individual, but it definitely convinced me along with the other information we have on him. That was just the curiosity part, though -- I am most interested in the conditions he caused in what was called the Autumn of Terror. It was already a ghastly place to live in terms of sulfur pollution (all of the winds brought stuff W to E) so thick it laid on the ground, terrible poverty and overpopulation, prostitution perhaps at the highest level per square inch of almost any area, and recent waves of immigrants who fled from pogroms in Russia and Poland. Even Queen Victoria eventually got alarmed. It's also fascinating because it's one of the first cases where the news media helped create and shape the fear. Jack got his name from letters 'to' the newspapers that were probably written by the reporters themselves and of course added to the hysteria.
I agree with Pluto completely, including the thanks for the url connection from sg1974.
I have to laugh at myself for my misinterpretation of things, though, including the map foldings and the ice.
The lights must have been enchanting. I don't see how they managed to get so many on that one tree.
The glass building (I guess they're still building it) looks beautiful. It reminds me of the architecture in Dubai, which I think is fascinating.
All books are mysteries. Yours sounds so intriguing. Please let us know how to order it when it's published.
Thanks, all! In one of the photos you can actually see how close the DLR station is because it looks like one train is going into the Marriott.
I still have to write the book , but I've got the research done for several chapters (plague, witch crazes, the Terror, and Whitechapel). One of the reasons I love history (especially from the medieval period) is that it involves solving (or at least doing your best to solve) mysteries.
Wonderful writeup prof! I'm so glad you are "back among us" again, and have shaken that nasty stuff. I think this looks and sound like a wonderful place to stay, and will put this on my list, for when we finally get to London. Thank you again for taking all this time to help all of us out
Again, wonderful photo's and story!
Now I just hope Delta can improve it's service to Heathrow! Have been taking the Noon flight to Atlanta, but I just cannot due those early morning flights home!
BTW, Yes, I do enjoy all three of my favorites in Paris, La Defense, C-E, and Ren. AdT, for different reasons! Never had a bad stay at any of them, but currently AdT, treats me so well, I don't know why I would move.
As for London, you are right on about Marble Arch area, could not recommend that area to anyone. Do enjoy seeing a movie at The Palladium Threatre, just across the street from the Arch itself, but would not walk beyond that point! Have always enjoyed The Grosvenor' Hotels, as well! Will go back to County Hall on the next trip because they "Spoil me" and I want to invite a host of MRI, to visit there and am really looking forward to that!
Please keep the information coming and am so glad "All's Well that Ends Well"!
I am glad it works for you, but I would rather fly late!
BTW, I once had a wonderful meal in Watertown, at a placed called "Three Sisters", it was an outstanding place to dine! Probably long gone, but the memories of the area are very special!
Did I understand you that the Concierge helped you on the transportation To/From LHR? This has really been a big plus for my London and Paris trips. In Paris they actually gather you right as you get off the plane! They then whisk you thru security, put you into a nice car, and drive you directly to the hotel!
I think a lot of people don't use the Concierges enough!
I only asked him whether I should reserve the cab the night before, and he said yes and did so. But he gave me all kinds of other directions and was extremely helpful. I'm actually in Waterville, and we don't have too many outstanding places to dine (but we do have really cheap lobster you can get at the supermarket!)
It gets better! I just got a lengthy and detailed online survey from the West India Quay, which I really like and almost never get. This time, happily, I was able to praise it and its staff highly. While I was filling it out one more thing occurred to be about the hotel. It's something you notice when it's not, but seldom when it is -- it is EXTREMELY clean. The bathroom looked brand new.
They were both so nice, multilingual, and totally professional. Everything about the lounge was great and having everything there all week except breakfast (which was in the restaurant on the weekends) was fabulous. The 2:30-5:30 teatime (I didn't go so I'm assuming that was what it was) was a first from what I've seen.
Another thing I liked about the hotel is that their billing was completely accurate. The minibar advertised that if you picked an item up you'd be charged -- but in the past I've been charged just for opening the door to see what was in it. This time, I did take three items and they appeared exactly on my bill. I was also told at reception that for internet, I needed to click on pay 'on room'. This time, and this time only, they never appeared on my bill at all. IN the past I have had to dispute it (successfully, but it takes time).
I probably should reiterate this hotel won't be for everyone. If you're visiting London the first time, you probably want to be more centrally located. But if you've done that and especially if you want a more typical experience, this is the place. I loved it, and when I finally got out there were all kinds of semi-pubs (places that are sort of like pubs but you don't have to order at the bar and there is as much wine on the list as beer) and restaurants and fine stores everywhere. This is a real find in London. Although I used points (and like I said, 30,000 less than I would have at the County Hall), it is a real deal if you look at the actual prices.
I would have to say the management is as close to perfect as it comes. Reminds me of my two favorites - Athens and Ghent.
That is really "Well put"! If you are a "First timer" in London and have no real reason (IE, show, sporting event or?) You would be better off in another Marriott property.
The point savings are real! I just gave up 200,000 points for six nights at County Hall! At least it is paid for with points!
I hope you submitted the ladies names for "Marriott Employees Award", Spirit to Serve!
I will do so -- I haven't kept up with all aspects of the site -- but Fanny and Carmen were great. I only wish I had gotten the concierge's name. The thing about the West India Quay is they don't overplay themselves, which I like. They act like they're performing a service for you and seem surprised when you do ask. To me that means a great hotel.
But all said, I won't ever stay at the County Hall again. It did not do me ill like the Rive Gauche did (which in its nice days put bottles of Gem Princess's Veuve Cliquot in my room un-asked for but not un-drunk) its last time. But not being able to get in till near 3pm on most occasions recently is enough to dissuade me. It would have been horrific this time considering how sick I became.
Thanx ProfC for the review & pictures.
I never knew much about this property before your review.
The picture reminds me of the W in Barcelona or Burq al Arab in UAE, as they all look like the sail of a sail boat.
I am very late coming to this discussion, but can I say that I was at this hotel for 5 nights last December. It was wonderful! The two of us (me and wife) were in an executive room on 7th floor with lounge access. We LOVED it! It looks a long way from the centre of London, but it is easy peasy to get there. And we so much prefer being back at Docklands at night. We felt so much more comfortable. The Executive Lounge was fabulous. There are loads of restaurants nearby. The transport links are brilliant. How much did we love it? We have just booked there again for a several night break.
Our favourite too! There are sometimes reviews on TA saying it is a business hotel, but we don't think it is. OK, so it is near a lot of swanky offices so business travellers do stay there, but it is equally an excellent city break hotel for the private traveller as far as we are concerned. And we are both retired!