Review: A weekend of self-indulgence in London

View from the top of the Victoria Tower, the lesser known of the two towers of the Houses of Parliam

View from the top of the Victoria Tower, the lesser known of the two towers of the Houses of Parliament, towards Big Ben, the River Thames and the London Eye - Credit: visitlondonimages/ britainonview

WHEN a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford.”

Wise words, Samuel Johnson. Even if you deem yourself a seasoned Londonite – as I once did – it never ceases to amaze me how many little gems are waiting to be discovered in our capital, writes Kate Dodd.

I haven’t had a night in London for a couple of years so I relished the invite to stay at the Bloomsbury Holiday Inn.

My good friend Nicola and I happily left the children at home with their daddies and rendezvoused at Liverpool Street station.

The hotel is undeniably a great base to explore or rediscover old haunts. Russell Square tube is a stone’s throw away. Two stops along the Piccadilly line and you’re in Covent Garden and the West End. The British Museum is 500 metres away and lively Oxford Street is a 15-minute walk.

Admittedly the hotel - a rather ugly, imposing concrete mass, a little like a multi-storey car park - is not much to look at, but it’s so tightly packed along Coram Street that you barely think to look up. The reception area is flash and modern, with friendly and helpful staff and our room, with two single beds and a large bathroom, was faultless. There was even the rather nice touch of pillows labelled hard and soft so we could choose our preference. A fully-stocked mini bar, tea and coffee-making facilities, plus a varied room service menu, meant we didn’t even need to leave the room. But with the capital at our feet, happily we did!

We decided to treat ourselves to afternoon tea at The Dorchester, Park Lane. Let me explain our decadence. By no means a regular event, we decided it would be a very special ‘we’ve escaped for a girlie weekend’ treat. It was certainly very memorable, with two 12ft flower arrangements in the lobby, a man playing the piano and footmen at the door. Very Great Gatsby, and exceedingly self-indulgent.

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It was the perfect afternoon to catch up – uninterruptedly – over delicate tartlets and crustless finger sandwiches.

After tea, we had a stroll around Covent Garden and Soho, frequenting a few shops and bars, before heading back to the hotel for dinner.

Unfortunately, we were a little let down by dinner. Having walked past dozens of bustling restaurants serving tantalising food from around the world, we were the only ones in the vast and lifeless hotel restaurant that night. We were well attended to, as you would hope, but the food (shrimp salad for starters followed by chicken fajitas) was just as bland and boring as the surroundings. Thankfully breakfast was a much livelier affair with a great selection of hot and cold foods and enough to fill your boots for the entire day.

The 4**** hotel is very well equipped for a comfortable and accessible London trip. We had a jolly good night’s sleep, and the location is a definite winner.