Preparing for our annual August trip to visit my in-laws, including a 7 night respite in London. As usual, there are three of us, including our college age son. Yes, of course, it would be better to book two rooms, but no, we are not. That kind of expense is not in the cards, and I am unwilling to stay as far away as Heathrow or Windsor (where we could manage two rooms). One added complication this year is that I broke my ankle last month. I should be out of the boot by August, but I would prefer a shorter walk to the tube.
This year our options are a bit more limited than usual, and all involve compromises. I would really appreciate advice from folks who have stayed in these locations regarding how I should rank our options. I've included an obsessive amount of detail regarding our priorities.
We have a Deluxe King room booked at the JW Grosvenor House. We've stayed there before and really liked it. The problem is that in order for three of us to stay there, we have to be upgraded to a Superior room. This worked out on our previous stay, but at the moment the hotel appears to be sold out (or close to it), and there are no Superior rooms available. There may, however, be cancellations closer to the dates of our stay. If we manage a complimentary upgrade to a Superior room, we'll be paying an additional £35 per night for a rollaway, for a total cost of £245.
Upsides: Moderate cost, great lounge, and location (especially because our bus to/from Oxford stops nearby).
Downsides: Longer walk to the tube than I would prefer, ability to stay there depends on increased room availability (beyond our control).
We have a double double booked at the County Hall. We've stayed there before and had nice (and sometimes super) upgrades. There would be no additional charges for us at this hotel. At the same time, the hotel is currently undergoing renovations, the lounge (never great) is in a temporary location, and the pool is closed.
Upsides: Free, two real beds, large rooms, possible upgrades.
Downsides: Meh breakfast last time I stayed, long walks to rooms, I hate walking across Westminster Bridge to the tube, potentially old/unrefurbished room, no pool, construction noise.
We have a Barlow King booked at the Renaissance St. Pancras, and conflicting emails from different people regarding costs. One email said that they would assign us a room that could take a rollaway, and that the charge for the rollaway would be £50 per night for a total of £350 over the stay. Another email said that only a Barlow Premium room could take a rollaway, and that would cost us an additional £30, for a total of £560 for the stay. And the website itself shows neither Barlow nor Barlow Premium rooms as accommodating rollaways, requiring us to upgrade to a Junior Chambers Suite at £120 per night, plus the £50 per night fee for the rollaway for a total of £1190.
Upsides: Close to transit, great lounge.
Downsides: Potentially very high cost, uncertainty (don't want to arrive expecting one room/price and be forced to upgrade to something else at a substantially higher price), pretty dull rooms in the Barlow wing.
We have a double double booked at St. Ermin's. This carries an additional charge of £50 per night for a total of £350 for the stay. Reviews for this location are great on Tripadvisor, in fact the best of all Marriott properties in London (I know, I know...). Not sure if the reviews are so good because its rates are usually substantially cheaper than other centrally located Marriott properties, so expectations are lower. I emailed the hotel last week (as well as the other three) about upgrade options and this is the only location from which I have received no reply.
Upsides: Moderate cost, two real beds, proximity to the tube, rumors of upgrade possibilitiesr.
Downsides: No lounge, concerns re: lack of response to email inquiry, very small rooms unless upgraded, most annoying/least useful tube lines (District & Circle).
We have some great London experts here on Marriott Rewards Insiders. I hope jerrycoin, brightlybob, arkwright, zukracer, and others will weigh in to offer their advice. I would also encourage you to search the MRI forum using the search function in the top right corner of the page - there has been countless threads on London.
Happy travel planning!
Thank-you for the post!
If it was me, I would speak to a manager/front desk clerk at any of the choices first. These are all pretty good choices and I would explain the situation and get an email confirming rates/room details from that person.
Each one of these fine properties has advantages, and it is going to depend on the personal assurance of the management that would make the decision easier.
One thing to remember at County Hall, you don't have to walk across The Westminster Bridge if you just go to the Tube/train station at Waterloo.
It will be interesting to hear others comment on the choices!
The Waterloo option from County Hall used to be better (and it is only good if you don't need the District or Circle line, regardless). Last we stayed at County Hall they had started blocking guest access to the back exit/entrance (nearest Waterloo). Now one has to walk all the way to the far and of the massive building to exit by Westminster Bridge and then all the way back to the other end to get to Waterloo (same trek but the opposite on the way back to the hotel). This makes it substantially longer to get to Waterloo rather than Westminster station.
I've already emailed each of these hotels with questions about upgrades, etc. I have also read everything (here and elsewhere) on these locations. My needs are rather specific and unusual. And I've stayed at all three locations but St. Ermin's.
The St. Pancras gave their usual disappointing answer (I have to pay £30 for an upgrade to a larger room for a rollaway, and an additional £50 for the rollaway, which is £560 [$865] in extra charges for the week, and I will be ineligible for any complimentary upgrades, because they will not upgrade us to Chambers without an additional charge), which means I will almost certainly not stay there. While I might have been willing to pay to upgrade to a Chambers room, I just can't bring myself to do so after already paying to upgrade to a larger Barlow room. It just makes a joke of the whole idea of Platinum upgrades. Too bad, because I love their club, and the location is good for my purposes.
St. Ermin's has not responded to my email (in five days), which does not bode well.
County Hall replied, but ignored a few of my questions (availability of renovated rooms, breakfast location, etc.). I'd love to hear from recent Plat guests about how the renovations affected their stay.
Grosvenor House is sold out of rooms that can take more than two guests, so the upgrade I need in order for us to stay there, will depend on cancellations.
Finally got a less annoying reply from the St. Pancras. If we want to upgrade to a Junior Chambers Suite, they'll do it for £115 per night (a lot, I know), but they will waive the £50 per night rollaway charge). This is, for me, more tempting than paying the additional £80 per night for a Premium Barlow room + rollaway, but not being eligible for any upgrades, regardless of availability. It just irks me to pay an upcharge and consequently be ineligible for any upgrades. I DO appreciate the waiving of the rollaway charge. Doing this makes me feel like they went out of their way for me, while also allowing them to hold fast to their "no free upgrades to Chambers on Marriott Rewards bookings" policy.
I also wonder if, having paid the upcharge into Chambers, we might be upgraded into an even better Chambers room. I'd love to hear from anyone else who has paid the upcharge into Chambers on a Marriott Rewards stay. Did they give you the smallest Junior Suite available? Did you receive any additional upgrade at no cost?
This is one of those where I'm not so sure a knowledge of London is required!
Your problem is you need a room for 3, in a city famed for cramped accommodations!
I rate the GH as the best amongst these, subject to the caveat that I've not stayed at St Ermins, however both Autographs I've stayed at have been completely up to Marriott standards of cleanliness, but with real individuality. However it is usually the cheapest of the Marriott central options. I'm assuming there's a reason for this!
ITs 7 nights and so of the room is cramped and you have to step over your sons rollaway to get to the bathroom it could be too, too much. I might chance it for a night or 2, but for a week it could grate. In my experience I have ALWAYS been upgraded at GH, even when it was full, but in a full hotel, if there's no room, theres no room. That's it!
County Hall has the biggest rooms on this list and guarantees you a double-double. To my mind for your purposes it's by far the best choice out of these, the temporary lounge shift is an unhappy situation though.
Finally, you could consider West India Quay, right next to the DLR which connects to the highly connected Bank station it offers spacious double-doubles. Or the Kensington Marriott, a 5 minute walk to the tube, 10 mins to the museums and 20 mins to Harrods makes it a viable choice and it does offer double-doubles too.
I've always wanted to try the West India Quay location, but it is one that never comes up as a Marriott Rewards redemption option for more than two guests (not even with an additional surcharge). At least not for the past 10+ Augusts during which I have made the search. Perhaps I'll email them and ask. I had just assumed the rooms are small, based on the lack of availability of redemptions for more than two.
Upon further research, the West India Quay location has bizarre restrictions on the number of guests allowed in a room. The St. Ermin's allows 4 guests in a double double of approximately 240 square feet (I have one booked and find that terrifying. Will only stay there if promised a larger room). The West India Quay only allows 2 guests in their king room of 334 square feet. Even more inexplicably, they only allow 2 guests in the 678 square foot Curve Suites. And they have a dining table for 4. So 4 can eat there but not sleep there? I think an email is in order.
Got a very prompt reply from West India Quay. "Even though our website says that rooms are restricted to maximum 2 adults, we are able to arrange a rollaway bed in each and every room category we offer, and thus we are able to accomodate (sic) 3 people in a room." It does make me wonder about the reason that the website only lists two to a room, and will not return results when three or more guests are indicated -- as a business hotel are they trying to avoid stays by families with children? Regardless of their reason, this IS good news. So now I'll be adding this location to my list to ponder. A bit out of the way for us, but it would save us 60k points, as well as a decent chunk of change over some of the other locations.
If you are weighing in, more information on West India Quay would be appreciated as well.
West India Quay (WIQ) is one hotel where the ground floor with its bar, reception and restaurant,join together 2 different buildings, a red-brick low-rise structure right next to WIQ DLR, with many rooms having a very industrial DLR view. All the standard rooms and double-doubles are here. Then there's the much-photographed tower with the Exec rooms which are actually smaller than the standard rooms but have wonderful views of Canary Wharf and the quays, unless you get an inner courtyard view, in which case it's no view at all... Now this hotel does recognise elites very well and uniformally "upgrades" - to a tower inner courtyard view on the 5th floor. So that's smaller than the standard rooms with a view of the asphalt roof over the inner courtyard. Let me tell you, if I paid extra for that exec room I'd be spitting! Hence its always DLR-view Red brick for me. Hence I'm no fan of WIQ. However, it matters not what the website states, the standard double-double rooms are spacious and can easily accommodate 3 adults in comfort without any rollaway bed. Indeed the rollaway would cramp the room.
The small exec lounge is on the top floor of the tower and has commanding and sweeping views of Canary Wharf. Breakfast and evening offerings are strong and plentiful. With CH now offline to you, this Cat7 hotel may be your best bet for a very different London experience, yet within easy DLR ride of the traditional attractions.
Thank you for explaining the tradeoffs at this location. It seems to be sexy building v. larger room (unless we were upgraded to a suite in the tower). If we are in the brick building (I think they call it the podium), I assume it is on a separate bank of elevators from the tower. Does this make getting to the lounge a two elevator affair (which sounds like a PITA to me)?
The level of detail you provide in starting this topic is impressive, lexdevil.
Thanks for sharing it, as this place is the perfect spot to seek insights from our community or well-versed travelers that have been to the region.
A weird thing just occurred with the County Hall's room availability. A couple of days ago, they had scores of rooms of various types, renovated and old, available. Many could be booked for points. Within the past 24 hours, pretty much all rooms have disappeared. Nothing can be had for points, and one generic double/king room appears to be available at £374 (I'm guessing that this is just due to the Platinum Guarantee).
I wonder if the hotel really did sell out in a 24 hour period of time, or if they are having trouble meeting their timetable on the renovations and have had to remove rooms from inventory. Either way, County Hall is really only of interest to me if we get a great room, so this lack of availability concerns me.
Of course it is our only option with no upcharge, so it remains in the running (especially if I'm feeling poor at the end of the month).
We stayed at CH in March, but paid a visit to the St. Ermin property to satisfy a curiosity for a possible future trip. The public spaces are absolutely fantastic (17 million in renovations completed) and the front desk manager was very hospitable, even giving us a personal tour. It is well located, with a major tube station right around the corner. They have "family" rooms, which appear to be plenty large enough for 3 adults. If it were me and I could swing the price point, I would def do it. Perhaps try shooting them another email. Or it might even be worth the expense to ring them.
I've emailed twice, once over eight days ago and more recently three days ago. The PP line assures me that this is the correct email address, but either they are wrong, or St. Ermin's is truly terrible about replying to email. And if they have changed the email address, perhaps they should inform Marriott. The St. Pancras, which had also changed its email address from the one the PP line, had an auto-reply message informing me of the new email address.
I guess the next question is if my interest in this location is great enough to bother with a telephone call.
Ready to remove County Hall from the list of contenders. Too bad, because it's the only option with no upcharge (for either room type or rollaway), but there are just too many current (past couple of weeks) Tripadvisor reviews complaining about renovation noise at 8:45am, scaffolding and obscured views, etc. I am canceling this booking.
Grosvenor House remains on the list as a wait and see, pending availability.
Finally spoke to someone at St. Ermin's this morning and had my questions answered. The person I spoke to confirmed that I emailed the correct address and seemed concerned about the lack of reply. She promised that our double double would be on the larger side, and indicated we would be upgraded to a junior suite if available at check in. She also confirmed that all three of us can have the restaurant breakfast. The upcharge for this stay is £350 ($545), and it's 30k fewer points as well.
The St. Pancras Renaissance is still in the running as well. It is substantially more expensive (£805, or $1250), but it has a great lounge, and all three of us can use it. We'll also be in a Junior Chambers Suite or better. But it's a lot more than I would like to spend.
If anyone has stayed at both St. Ermin's and the St. Pancras Renaissance, I'd love to know if the difference in price seems worth it. For a seven night stay I do like having lounge access so the three of use are not cooped up together in the room at all times. Also, I know the food in the Chambers Club, but I would like to hear more about the breakfast at St. Ermin's. I'm trying to eat pretty low carb at the moment, so I am especially interested in whether it's too pastry heavy.
Ooooh. And the plot thickens.
I'm taking WIQ off the list because I don't love the tradeoff between modern and room size, and I don't like the idea that elites get "upgrades" to smaller rooms with ****/no view. Though I have to say I was super please with how responsive they are to email.
Grosvenor House is still in the running, should availability in a Superior or better room present itself. Still wait and see.
St. Pancras Renaissance is a contender due to great transit options, larger Chambers room and comped rollaway, but the disadvantage is cost. Spending $1,250 on a 270k point MR stay is...hard to swallow.
St. Ermin's is trending downward due to lack of lounge, lots of not so positive comments re: the breakfast buffet (a real bummer given the absence of a lounge), and the fact that the double double will require an upcharge of $545, which is pretty high considering the relative unswankiness of this property.. Still in the running, however, because it has two real beds, is super close to a (not optimal) tube station, and was very nice in answering questions once I got past the lack of replies to emails. Especially pleased that the (not so great) breakfast buffet would be provided to all three of us.
And now...the Edition joins the fray. They have double doubles. They will allow three guests (regardless what the website says). The upcharge is £30 per night, for a total of $325. The location is really good for us, though it is about a 4 block schlep to Tottenham Court Rd. tube. Though they have no lounge, they will provide breakfast for two (and the reviews of the breakfast are strong). And their breakfast offerings are a la carte and not too terribly dear, so it will not crush us when the three of us partake. Also, if we are upgraded to a larger room (none of which apparently are doubles), they will comp their stupidly expensive (£80 per night) rollaway. Hmmm...
I don't think that St. Ermin's is unswanky in a vacuum, just relative to properties like the Edition (which appears pretentious as all get out), the Grosvenor House and St. Pancras Renaissance (with their outstanding lounges), and the Park Lane (which I find swanky, but understated. It is my favorite London Marriott).
So...what do you think of the Edition? Awesome? Annoying? A bit of both? We've dined at the Pollen Street Social several times over the years and really like it, so I expect we'll enjoy Berners Tavern, despite the over the top room and scene. It's funny, I noticed that the desk chairs in the rooms at the Edition are the same chairs at the Pollen Street Social. I do have to say, however, that I think they will come to regret the wood panelling pretty shortly, and that the faux fur throws are, to my mind, a bug and not a feature.
The real selling points of the Edition for me are location (near good food and shops, especially record shops in Soho -- especially as we will be there for the 6 August tube strike), good restaurant, and reputedly extremely comfortable beds.
So I've never stayed at an Edition (or St. Pancras which looks very nice and the JW was fabulous). There are four (Editions) and I've looked them all over, and I am positively foaming at the mouth to try one, in particular the one in NYC and the one in Istanbul look fantastic. The London Edition was my first choice for our trip this Spring past, but I opted for CH because it was my mom's preference, and it was her birthday, and well, just because she's my mom. I have no regrets. I don't think I would have liked it if there were renovations going on though. I don't know if this was temporary or not, but the CL there was very small, very warm (even in March) and there were no windows! The library lounge on the first floor where the breakfast was served was fantastic. I made sure each morning that we had a table with a view of the Thames and Big Ben.
Yes, the fourth floor lounge at County Hall is tiny, especially for such a large property. The Library is nice, but last time I was there breakfast was chaos. Things were not replenished in a timely fashion, and the staff could not keep up with clearing away the dirty dishes. I guess the lesson is to have breakfast early.
Tube Strike 5-6 August: Fresh 24-hour Tube strike announced for 5 August - BBC News