Latest posts by Tim Firmager (see all)
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Many of us travel to London for business and leisure (as a good night out in Soho or one of London’s infamous clubs is hard to turn down) and often like to make the most of our time here. This weekend I spent travelling through London for business and stayed at the four-star Hotel Indigo, about a minute’s walk from Earl’s Court.
Hotel Indigo is a brand that forms part of the InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG), whose loyalty scheme is one of the biggest in the hospitality sector, so is useful for someone travels regularly.
The Hotel Indigo brand sets itself apart from others in this group (including Crowne Plaza, Holiday Inn etc.) by branding itself as a chain of boutique hotels. They use vibrant colour and fantasy to enhance guests’ experiences, and each hotel’s décor is based on a theme around its location. In the case of the Earl’s Court branch: a Victorian townhouse.
The reception area features dark olive drapes and a statement oval desk, emphasising the luxurious Victorian theme the hotel is trying to achieve. Check-in was smoothly executed. In the time it took me to fill in the paperwork (about 90 seconds), I was given a brief overview of the hotel brand and the amenities available, including gym facilities, restaurant (at which hotel guests receive a 20% discount) and a variety of others – including an app to read newspapers.
I was shown to my room (number 219, a junior suite), the door of which (like all other room doors) was in the style of a front door, giving the feeling that you’re about to step into a new home rather than just a hotel room. The colour scheme for this room is dark turquoise giving an opulent feel throughout.
As evident in the photos, the room features two very large flat screen TVs – one in the living room and one at the foot of the bed. Both very useful for catching the news in the morning.
In addition to the complimentary mini bar, stocked with a selection of wine and soft drinks, a personalised welcome card and cupcakes (from a local bakery) were awaiting me when I entered the room.
The bathroom had a couple of bonus features I wasn’t expecting – some very fancy lighting built into the furniture, a combination of Gilchrist & Soames and Aveda products, and a walk-in shower large enough to wash half a rugby team at once, but let’s not get too carried away with that idea.
I used the in-house gym facilities before heading down for dinner. The fitness suite is very small, but provides chilled water, towels and state of the art machines, as well as a small rack of free weights. No wow factor or socks blown off, but it was sufficient to meet my need of burning some calories and working up an appetite.
For dinner, myself and my guest were greeted and seated by the window, giving us a view out as well as across the entire bar and restaurant area.
We chose the smoked salmon on blinis with crème fraîche and the crab salad for starter and roast duck with potato dauphinoise and the sea bass with pea purée for main.
Given there were only a handful of tables occupied, service did feel a little slow to begin with, but we were offered some complimentary bisque and calamari as an appetiser before our meals to make up for it.
The food was well presented, cooked as requested and of a standard matching that of the hotel. Of particular note was the sea bass with pea purée, exquisitely presented and cooked just to the point that the flesh flaked off easily. Our waiter appeared a little nervous, but we had good service nonetheless and did not feel that we were kept waiting for anything.
For dessert we opted for the dessert to share – i.e., mini portions of all the dessert options (Valrhona chocolate fondant, spicy banana and ginger tart tatin, lemon meringue pie, chocolate delice and vanilla ice cream). By far our favourite was the spiced bananas, so I recommend getting these full sized if you chose to eat in the restaurant.
For breakfast, we sat down and ordered coffees and some eggs as well as helping ourselves to the well-presented continental options. It was a little confusing as all the breakfast menu items had prices (for non-residents), but breakfast was included in our stay. Checkout was as simple as check-in – all the staff were all friendly and polite.
My only quibble was with the app to read newspapers, as it implies that guests have brought their iPads/tablets with them, and also it is up to guests to purchase the online newspapers themselves. I’m told that there are iPads available to guests to use should they request them, but I didn’t try these out for myself. I would have liked to have seen some form of voucher/code to allow me to download the paper for that day for free. However if you’re an IHG loyalty member (it’s free to sign up to), you can request a free copy of an actual newspaper at check-in. That is a plus, but requires just a little forethought.
Overall though, I had a very pleasurably stay at Hotel Indigo and like the boutique offering they have. They offer an excellent four-star experience and at this well connected location with direct travel links to The City and to some of the best tourist attractions in town (Harrods, Tower Bridge and Leicester Square to name a few), it is worth considering for your next business visit or city break to London. I look forward to trying out their other venues across the UK.
Hotel Indigo is located at 34-44 Barkston Gardens, London, SW5 0EW.
Visit them online to book directly at hotelindigo.com/kensington or through travel booking websites.