The brand-spankin’-new InterContinental Westminster is London’s newest business class hotel, with the central location, service, and style business travelers require. It also has a handsome restaurant and bar with a type of food you would not expect to find across the pond.
While in the UK over the holidays, I checked in at the hotel for two nights. Take a spin through the slideshow above… then take a read through what you need to know here:
>The 256-room hotel opened in early December in a quiet, yet very central area of London, in between Buckingham Palace and the Houses of Parliament, Big Ben and Westminster Abbey. It’s next door to New Scotland Yard.
>The new hotel was built inside a group of 19th century buildings called the Queen Anne’s Chambers—so even though it looks traditional red-brick-London on the outside, everything inside is modern and brand new. As a matter of fact, when I was there, rooms on two floors of the hotel were still under construction.
>Room rates start at about $350 per night, and since its part of IHG, you can earn and burn Priority Club points here.
>This is one of the few luxury hotels in London that offers free wi-fi—and since the hotel is new, it has fat, fast pipes for quick and easy downloading, streaming, etc.
>Rooms are decorated in a pale palette of blondes, beige and gold, with classy wood, leather, marble and chrome finishes, which keeps the rooms bright—a good thing since most windows in the low-slung (6 story) building look out to other buildings across alleyways and streets or into light wells.
>Bathrooms are big, modern and bright with separate tubs and showers. However, I was not a fan of the large, heavy, sliding doors separating the bathroom from the sleeping room. They seem awkwardly heavy, and not very soundproof, which can be important when more than one person is in the room.
>Its fresh-faced, young, and professional staff is energetic, highly trained– delays in opening the hotel meant more training time for employees.
>Since the hotel hopes to attract London’s political set, the lobby and common areas are all connected, and designed to see and be seen. For example, when you walk in to the chic limestone, sky-lit lobby, you can look through to Emmeline’s, an elegant tea and champagne bar, then through that to Blue Boar Smokehouse, the hotel restaurant and bar.
>Art and interior design are inspired by the hotel’s location. For example, carpet in the corridors sports an unusual fingerprint design (for the spooks in Scotland Yard next door). Most of the paintings and sculpture include characters from London’s rich political scene, past and present—for example, there are busts are Margaret Thatcher, Tony Blair and London’s blustery mayor, Boris Johnson. (See slideshow above)
>Eventually, a gym and fitness center will open in the basement, but it was still under construction when I was there.
>It felt a bit odd for me, someone who grew up in the BBQ-sauce-soaked South, to dine on smoke ribs, pulled pork, baked beans and cole slaw in London. But I did, and loved it! In typical British style, the, the BBQ at the hotel’s Blue Boar Smokehouse is served on (get this…) a silver platter. And in another hat tip to British tastes, the restaurant offers pulled lamb. Kudos to the chef Jon Ingram, who served up sweet, smoky and moist pulled pork, and spare ribs charred and spread with just the right amount of sauce. To finish, a classy finger bowl is provided to rinse sticky fingers.
>The Blue Boar Bar, with green leather love seats, plaid loungers, wooden floors and a full bar looked like it would be great fun with a crowd. But when we were there, parliamentarians were on Christmas break, so it was quiet.
>Overall, The InterContinental Westminster is a very nice, new hotel in a quiet corner of London. However, it is not as grand and flashy, nor does it offer the expansive high-rise views (or high rates), as InterContinental’s big flagship hotel on Park Lane.