First look: London’s newest business class hotel

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Centrally located smack between Buckingham Palace and Westminster Abbey on a quiet bend in Broadway.
Porte cochere on Broadway, a quiet street through central London. (Photo: Chris McGinnis)
Modern, sky-lit check in desk surrounded by original art and sculpture.
More art near elevator banks at each floor.
Light, bright rooms in blonde wood, leather and gold.
Flat screen TVs hidden behind glass wall that double as mirrors.
Big bathrooms, with marble, separate tub and shower, Molton Brown products.
Views are limited to nearby streets and alleyways.
Nespresso machine in every room.
Politically-inspired art throughout the hotel
US-style electrical outlets-- no adaptor required.
Check out the fingerprints in the carpet.. New Scotland Yard is next door!
Young, energetic staff had extra training while waiting for hotel to open.
Umm. BBQ Ribs at Blue Boar Restaurant & Bar. (Photo: Chris McGinnis)
Politically inspired art in the Blue Boar Bar
The handsome Blue Boar Restaurant is the setting for breakfast and dinner.
Hat tip to the British palate: Pulled lamb!
Pulled pork on a silver platter.
A solution for sticky fingers
The hotel is steps away from sites like Westminster Abbey


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.

The new InterContinental Westminster near Buckingham Palace. (Photo: Chris McGinnis)

The new InterContinental Westminster near Buckingham Palace. (Photo: Chris McGinnis)

>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.

Umm. BBQ Ribs at Blue Boar Restaurant & Bar. (Photo: Chris McGinnis)

Umm. BBQ Ribs at Blue Boar Restaurant & Bar. (Photo: Chris McGinnis)

>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.

>The neighborhood around the hotel is a hotspot for new hotels… nearby you’ll find the St Ermin’s hotel and 41 Hotel both opened within the last year and both worth a look-see!

-Chris McGinnis

Video: Lufthansa shows off its new baby: Boeing 747-8I. Wow!

Wow! This week Lufthansa took delivery of its biggest new baby, the Boeing 747-8I. What a beautiful bird! Take a look at the excellent video above and keep in mind the following:

>Lufthansa is the first commercial airline to fly the 747-8I. The first 747-8i will fly between Washington-Dulles and Frankfurt. Lufthansa says that there are no current plans to bring it to San Francisco. However, it will soon be flying between Los Angeles LAX, Chicago ORD and Frankfurt. Lufthansa has 20 of these planes on order- five more will arrive this year.

Lufthansa's new business class seat is true lie-flat, but is angled inward. (Photo: Lufthansa)

>The 747-8I sports Lufthansa’s brand new true lie-flat business class product. (See video for a good close look.) What’s most unusual about the new biz class is how seats are angled slightly inward. (See video. I reserve judgement on this until I actually spend 10 hours on a plane, angled slightly toward a stranger…) This is great news since Lufthansa’s angled lie-flat seats (on the A380s, 747-400s and A340s it flies into SFO) get low marks for comfort. Eventually, all aircraft will be fitted with the newer business class, but it’s going to take 2-3 years.

>The economy class seat is identical to that found on Lufthansa’s A380. On the 747-8I, the layout in coach is 3-4-3 with 31 inches of pitch.

Serrated edges on the engines. Cool! (Photo: Lufthansa)

>Plane spotters will know that they are looking at a 747-8I when they see: engines with serrated edges (just like the new 787) and the lack of winglets that are found on the 747-400. (Boeing says the new wings have “raked wingtips.”)

>The new 747-8I flies more quietly, burns less fuel and therefore has fewer emissions that earlier versions.

>The fuselage on the 747-8i is 250 feet, 2 inches long- that’s 18 feet, four inches longer than the 747-400. It’s now the longest passenger aircraft in the world…about three feet longer than the Airbus A340-600.

>Lufthansa’s version of the 747-8I will have eight first class, 92 business class and 262 economy class seats.  First class is in the nose of the plane on the main deck. Business class is upstairs and downstairs.

>The list price for a Boeing 747-8I is about $300 million.

The first Lufthansa 747-8I takes off from the Boeing plant in Everett, WA bound for Frankfurt