After I booked my tickets with British Airways for my Royal Wedding trip, the next task to deal with was finding the right place to stay in London.
Usually, I’m after the cheapest place to stay, but in London that usually turns out to be rather expensive. I’ve a big fan of the EasyHotel chain. They’re inexpensive rooms that offer just the basics.
However, on this trip even the EasyHotel was going to be pricey due to the peak travel time I’d be going to London. I’ve made a lot of connections in the London hotel space through the site, but none of them could provide me with a room during a peak weekend. The blogging gods smiled upon me, though, and our friends at Visit Britain agreed to sponsor our hotel stay as a form of sponsorship for our Royal Wedding coverage.
This was lovely. It meant that I didn’t have to stay in the cheapest hotel, and I could find something centrally located and much nicer.
Despite only being about 6 weeks out from the Royal Wedding, there wasn’t a shortage of options in the budget set by Visit Britain. I had a lot of trouble finding the right hotel. I needed to be central, within walking distance of the Mall.
Years ago I had used LondonTown.com to book a hotel and thought I’d give them a go again. I’m very glad I did. They have a fantastic feature that allows you to input your hotel dates and then see prices, availability and everything on a map. This was very helpful as it allowed me to quickly find the price I was looking for in the perfect location.
This is where I found the Cavendish London Hotel, which is located central in St. James just a few hundred yards from the Mall and a short walk to Buckingham Palace. I’d never heard of the place and never stayed in St. James. I hopped on Tripadvisor and discovered that it was one of London’s top rated hotels. I couldn’t believe it was in my budget during the Royal Wedding!
Using LondonTown, I booked the hotel. Here’s the nice thing about LondonTown – you’re booking directly with the hotel, and you only have to pay the first night as a deposit. You don’t have to pay for your whole stay until you check out. This worked out great for Anglotopia’s cashflow. Most other hotel booking sites make you pay upfront for your whole stay.
When I arrived in London, I took the Heathrow Express from the airport. This probably wasn’t the best way to go as I ended up having to pay £13 for a cab ride to the hotel from Paddington Station. I thought the hotel was closer to the station than it was. Oh well.
When I checked into the hotel, I had some problems. Despite informing my banks that I was in London, all my cards were denied when I checked in. Thankfully, Cavendish let me in anyway and straighten out the cards once the banks in the US opened. They were also kind enough to let me check in early, which is rather nice when you’re jet-lagged.
The hotel lobby was very nice, and I was given a warm welcome by everyone. Surprisingly, the hotel was not crowded at all and remained quiet for my whole visit. I don’t know if the hotel wasn’t booked or if it was small enough that you never really saw anyone.
The Cavendish claims to be one of London’s greenest hotels. When you get into your room, you can immediately see the way you’ll have to change your behavior to make use of the room. The first thing you notice is that you have to put your room key into a little box to turn on the lights, and then when you take the key out your lights go off.
The only problem this creates is to make sure you don’t leave your room without the key. Thankfully, the plugs I used to charge all my iDevices were on a separate circuit so that didn’t turn off when you left the room.
The room was compact but roomy by London standards. It was just me, so it was plenty of room. There was a double-sized bed which had a very comfortable mattress, soft comforter and billowy pillows. It was like sleeping on a cloud. After having 8 weeks of sleepless night due to the birth of our son, I slept like a baby every night.
There was a nice big desk next to the TV which provided ample room to run the Anglotopia empire. The TV was a good size and was perfect for watching all the Royal Wedding coverage and getting my fill of British TV. There was a nice chair next to the bed for lounging, but I mostly used it as a souvenir stacking point. The room had a large cupboard, which was great as I was able to unpack all my luggage and didn’t have to go back to it the whole trip.
The bathroom was luxurious – everything looked brand new and clean. There was plenty of room. The bathtub was nice and deep as most British bathtubs are, and it was a great place to soak after a long day working and walking around London.
I had a nice view of Jermyn St from the room, and my room looked out across to Fortnum and Mason – the iconic London department store. The room was pretty much perfect.
Well, except for a few minor complaints that wouldn’t keep my from staying there again.
There’s a few bars and nightclubs on the street, and late at night it was very loud. One night was very hard to fall asleep from all the noise. I was only on the fifth floor, though. It was surprising, as there was two layer of windows keeping the outside world out. I think next time I’ll ask for a higher room.
My only other real complaint is that despite what I was paying for the room, WiFi was not free. It was a pricey £15 a day. I managed to get through most of the trip without using it, but when my other connectivity options failed, I had to break down and pay for it. It gets added to the bill.
There was a minibar in the room, but I knew better than to even think about opening that. I ordered room service one night as I was too knackered to go out. The menu had a lot of variety, and most of the food was what I call “normal.” I ordered grilled chicken and french fries. It was a good meal – not the best, but good enough, and it was brought to my door. The most surprising part of the meal was they brought a real Sprite. Most places in London only serve Schweppes’s Lemonade, which is a passable alternative. So, it was nice to actually get a Sprite.
Overall, I really enjoyed my stay at the Cavendish London Hotel, and I definitely want to stay there again on future trips to London. It’s central, clean and convenient with a friendly staff.
Can’t wait to go back!
The Cavenish London Hotel has rates that start at £150 a night (about $225).