Via Istanbul (Not Constantinople): Trip Planning
Turkish Airlines A330 Business Class KUL-IST / IST-KUL
Turkish Airlines Lounge Istanbul
Turkish Airlines A321 Business Class IST-MAN / MAN-IST
Virgin Trains East Coast First Class (York – London Kings Cross)
Conrad London St. James (King Deluxe Room)
There are many Hilton properties in London, and though I’ve not actually stayed in many of them myself, the consensus (at least, on FlyerTalk) seems to be that Conrad London St. James, Hilton London Bankside, Hilton London Canary Wharf and Hilton London Tower Bridge all seem to be pretty well-regarded. With the fortuitous (and short-lived) Visa/Conrad promotion last year, I managed to net myself two free nights and stayed at the Conrad for a whopping five nights while in London, and found myself enjoying the stay immensely.
The Conrad London St. James is located along Broadway, pretty much opposite the St. James Park underground station. It’s also round the corner from Westminster Abbey, which is very much a central location, as far as London goes.
The building itself looks pretty unassuming, blending in with all the other mid-rises in the area. The fancy dropoff area (and signage) are the only clues for what the building actually is.
The hotel lobby has a very modern feel to it. This is perhaps due to the inclusion of modern art that I do not understand. Perhaps this sculpture represents the never-ending climb towards achieving and maintaining elite status?
Slightly away from the main lobby is a sculpture comprising toys and action figures from across the decades, including stuff from various Pixar movies to franchises like Transformers. A geeky tribute, indeed.
(Minutes after writing the above, I found out that the Conrad’s website has an Art Collection page that lists and explains the meaning behind several of its art pieces, including many pieces I hadn’t noticed, clearly proving my inability to appreciate art.)
I was assigned a King Deluxe room, which is just one step above the basic Superior Room. I got the sense that the property isn’t too generous with suite upgrades, though I didn’t try all that hard to get upgraded this time round.
(Image from Conrad London St. James website)
Anyway, I thought the room was more than adequate. It managed to feel sufficiently roomy, and was decked out with rather pleasant modern decor.
The king bed was sufficiently comfortable, and the desk was functional, I suppose. The inclusion of a media port for connecting devices (e.g. a laptop) to the TV was appreciated.
The minibar area was pretty well-stocked, though I can’t say I’m an expert since I don’t usually take anything other than the complimentary items, which included Nespresso coffee capsules and a fair number of tea bags.
The bathroom was adequately large, with clear sections for the toilet, bathtub, shower (not pictured) and sink area, all nicely laid out in marble.
The TV was interestingly embedded into a flat mirror-like surface; when switched off, it’s not immediately obvious that there is a television set. Functionally it doesn’t really make much of a difference, but it’s interesting to note the attempt at integrating/hiding the television set within the room.
The room came with the fairly typical complimentary fruit platter; I’m not too sure if this is targeted at elite guests or is standard issue.
Many Conrad properties come with complimentary stuffed toys – we were lucky enough to arrive quite shortly after the launch of their new Mascot, Monty (the bulldog). Monty is a rather large (and higher cost, I imagine) toy and only comes upon request.
We requested for one, of course, and got a complimentary plush bulldog delivered to our room.
The availability of plush toys gave us the chance to create various dioramas within the room.
Over the Christmas period, the hotel also delivered a special seasonal platter of chocolates to the room. A nice touch, I must say!
We had our breakfast at the hotel’s Blue Boar restaurant.
For hot food, they had the standard English breakfast items (eggs, bacon, mushrooms, tomatoes, etc.). You could also order cooked eggs – they didn’t have a live station you could order from. Also on offer – fruits, salad, bread, cereals, juices… a pretty wide range of stuff to choose from.
FlyerTalk makes a big deal of the honey-roasted granola, which I must concede is pretty tasty. I believe it’s the same recipe as the one at the Hilton London Bankside.
All in all, a great place to stuff yourself with a proper English breakfast, fresh fruit, cereal, or all of the above. I was very much satisfied with the breakfast offerings.
I generally opt for the restaurant breakfast when able to since the lounge usually serves a more limited range of the same food, and it wasn’t any different at this property. Would suggest going for the restaurant breakfast unless you really would prefer the comparative privacy in the lounge, for some reason.
Other than breakfast, the lounge offered afternoon treats and evening canapés (with drinks). The space itself was quite well-designed – there aren’t actually that many seats available, but each segment is styled differently and gives each area a distinct feel, making the lounge feel larger than it really is.
There’s also a little meeting room that’s available for rental (first hour complimentary). Didn’t see any meetings going on in there during my stay, so I guess it’s not that popular an option. There were also showers available in the lounge, though I’m not too sure why anyone would choose to shower here instead of in their own room (in a really big hurry, I suppose?).
At one end of the lounge is a relatively interesting centrepiece…
…on the other side of which is where the action lies. The beverage offerings lie directly opposite.
Cheese and cold cut spreads were available every evening.
The specific hot food and desserts available differed daily, but generally I found them all to be rather enjoyable – it’s possible to substitute dinner with these, if you really want to.
Evening canapés (1)
Evening canapés (2)
Evening canapés (3)
I was exploring the city most afternoons, but got the chance to check out the tea time selections on Christmas day, when most of the city was closed anyway. Wasn’t that impressed with the savoury offerings, but the desserts were pretty good.
Assuming it’s like this every day, I think it’s a pretty good place to grab a bite, if you happen to be in the hotel in the afternoon.
All in all, I really enjoyed my stay at Conrad London St. James. You can get rooms here at about £240 per night without discount, although since properties like the Hilton London Bankside are available at 2/3 the price, I find it hard to justify paying the premium for this place. Still, if you’d like to pamper yourself, or are able to make a booking at a discounted rate, it’s definitely a great place to stay!