Joanna Hunkin stays at The Royal Horseguards in London.
Is easiest if you stick to trains. The hotel is easy walking distance from Embankment, Westminster and Charing Cross tube stations. Or you can jump on the Heathrow Express to Paddington and grab a cab.
Check-in experience: Was warm and efficient. My room wasn’t ready when I arrived at midday but the staff were happy to store my luggage. When I returned later that afternoon, my belongings were ready and waiting in my room.
Room: I was in 841, a standard double.
Price: $390 per night.
What’s so good about this place? Built in the mid-1880s as residential apartments, the hotel is a charming warren of narrow corridors and sloping floors. There are no standard dimensions here — every room seems to be a different shape and size. It makes a refreshing change from the standard chains and has real personality. The location is also fantastic — right next to Westminster and Covent Garden.
And the bad? It’s easy to get lost in those long and winding corridors. Some of the rooms are also on the small size — and it’s the luck of the draw which you get. Breakfast also leaves a lot to be desired.
Brits pride themselves on a good cooked breakfast but Royal Horseguard’s is dry, bland and underwhelming.
What’s in the neighbourhood? Just about every central London landmark. Turn one way and you’ll see Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament, turn the other way and there’s Horseguards Parade and Whitechapel. If you catch the Tube from Westminster, you walk straight past Downing St. The London Eye is just across the river and Trafalgar Square just up the road.
Toiletries: Special mention has to be made of the extra large and luxe bath towels, which are a soft, fluffy delight.
Food and drink: The mini bar is minimal and based on breakfast, I wouldn’t waste your time on anything from the kitchen. But there’s plenty of choice just a short walk away in Covent Garden.
The bed: Is like sleeping on a cloud.
A room with a view? From the eighth floor, you have a view across the roofs of the neighbouring hotels and Scotland Yard (which is the next street over).
Bathroom: Is large and has underfloor heating, which is especially welcome when you visit London in February. The fixtures are a little dated and the tacky, brightly coloured mirror is completely at odds with the rest of the decor. It also features a dreaded shower over bath.
Free Wi-Fi? Yes. And you’ll need it as the hotel construction essentially blocks all cell signal. You have to head out on to the street if you want to make a call.
Noise: You will hear voices as they pass in the corridor but otherwise, it’s fairly quiet. Double glazing ensures you’re not disturbed by the city outside.
Room service: Yes.
Value for money: For this location, pretty reasonable.
Exercise facilities: Yes.
Perfect for: Anyone who enjoys a little more character than your standard hotel chain.
The bottomline: A quintessentially British experience in the perfect central London location.