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Park Plaza Westminster Bridge is the international brand’s key property in the area, overlooking Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament. Because of its location, it makes for a great place for the discerning LGBT traveller to stay when in the capital.
Marked by contemporary guestrooms and suites, the hotel has a raft of top-notch facilities. Besides the sumptuous Brasserie Joël, you’ll also find the trendy Ichi Sushi & Sashimi, the classy 1WB Lounge & Patisserie, the fine Primo Bar and a well kitted out fitness centre with a 15m pool and spa. The hotel has a distinctive flavour of the Far East, which adds a refined classiness in a palette of blacks, whites, reds and oranges.
Home suite home
We were lucky to receive an upgrade to a suite – and let me just stop here to point out that all suites and penthouses are external facing, giving you great views of Westminster Palace or the London Eye. Our spacious suite – comprised of lounge, bedroom and bathroom – had plenty of deluxe features. The room included a dining table, Elemis toiletries, a Nespresso machine and, of course, a minibar.
Separating the bedroom from the lounge is always a good thing – it allows for a more private sleeping space, which is great if you and your partner/best mate/lover have different sleeping patterns but one of you doesn’t want to leave the suite. In terms of colours and decor, the suite was very tasteful – designed with masculine lines, austere Japanese colours, a dash of orange for highlights, some practical elements such as chairs and a desk, and other useful mod-cons.
The hotel is also very accessible. Not only is it fully equipped for disabled guests – with braille lifts, wheelchair access, audio loops and more – it’s close to public transport for those who don’t mind packing themselves onto the tube. Taxis also aren’t a huge expense if you want to hit the bars in the evening. As a quick guide, we got an Uber home from the Two Brewers in Clapham on the night and paid £11. Because I’d roped my friend into downloading the app, too, we both got £10 credit to use, and so paid just £1 for our travel home!
The staff were exceptional during our stay. We were offered an usher, but chose to find the room ourselves – although a concierge brought our bags up for us soon after. Although we waited a little while for our ice bucket and champagne flutes (we were drinking Aldi prosecco, but it’s nice to pretend), the member of staff who brought these to our room apologised, and was generally very nice about the whole thing. Frankly, we were still on our delicious Nespresso coffees, imbibing enough caffeine to carry us through the night, so it wasn’t an issue.
All in all, Park Plaza Westminster Bridge makes for a spectacular hotel, and comes highly recommended.
Fire and hibiscus in Brasserie Joël
We also got to check out Brasserie Joël last year with their exquisite Valentine’s Day menu. This needs special mention, because we had a great time, with the maitre d’ putting us in hysterics (and mischievously recommending we visit Fire ‘for a good night’).
My travelling companion – who chose from the a-la-carte menu – was especially pleased with his choices. He started with the French onion soup, which was topped in melted Gruyère cheese and brioche croutons. Initially I scoffed at his choice to have soup, but having dipped my spoon into his starter, I soon had food envy. The textures of the cheese and onions were balanced perfectly by the croutons, and the whole thing felt like a seductively cholesterol-raising treat.
For his main course, my friend selected the French Barbary duck fillet, which was served with beetroot mashed potato, peanuts and a raspberry vinegar sauce.
By this point it was clear that head chef Walter Ishizuka is especially good at combining seemingly odd ingredients to suprising effect. Take, for instance, the raspberry vinegar sauce – which had a hint of sweetness offset by the acid of the vinegar.
The beetroot mashed potato was similarly pleasing, adding a distinct tang to the creaminess of the mash. The peanuts rounded it all off with a bit of crunch and salt – and this is all before I’ve mentioned the duck. That was meaty, succulent and cooked perfectly.
Finally, for dessert, came the hibiscus crème brulée. The server initially joked with us and told us it was off the menu, only to mysteriously have it appear from nowhere with a cheeky smile. Either they sent someone to the supermarket really quickly (which would go above and beyond good customer service), or they’d had it all along.
The maitre d’ was very playful and was probably one of the best things about our meal, and ultimately his gag proved well judged. We were pleased the dish was there, as we were stuffed, and only wanted to try a dessert if it was the crème brulée. It was flowery, creamy and caramelised to perfection – all in all, the perfect balance of dessert flavours, and a great end to a great meal.
In order to book, or to check out the offers and deals, visit the Park Plaza Westminster Bridge microsite.