My wife and I originally planned to spend our Thanksgiving vacation to London at the Hyatt Regency The Churchill, where we had secured an excellent Points + Cash rate and confirmed a Diamond suite upgrade a month in advanced. Then disaster struck. A few days before our stay there was a gas explosion in the basement of the Hyatt Churchill, and the hotel remains closed for repair.
Hyatt moved our reservation across town to the Andaz Liverpool Street, but I still wanted a hotel in the West End where most of our desired tourist attractions were located. We ended up keeping the Andaz for the second two nights of our stay and spent the first two nights at the Conrad St. James, a former InterContinental property that was recently reflagged. Using a Hilton Points and Money award we paid 32,000 points plus £98 per night. Starting rates are £299 (~$470).
Before getting into the details, let me say that I thought the Conrad St. James was an excellent hotel, with beautiful rooms and good service. Where it fell short was in my original objective: staying close to the West End tourist attractions. I didn’t find the St. James’ Park underground station very convenient, and the surrounding neighborhood was a bit dead at night (although there was a popular pub right next door). If you’re traveling for business, this might be a great place to stay. If you’re a tourist, you might want to look elsewhere because — if all goes well — you’ll spend more time exploring the sights than sitting in your room.
We arrived at the hotel around 2 PM after taking the Heathrow Express to Paddington Station and connecting to the Circle line. Next time I might choose a taxi from Paddington instead, as I’m getting too old and ornery to be lugging baggage on a subway.
Our room was not yet ready, but the front desk was otherwise very good at recognizing my wife’s Gold Hilton HHonors status, explaining her benefits, and taking our bags so they would be waiting in the room. The wait was only an hour. We ended up wandering around the city for two-and-a-half hours before making it back.
Our room appeared to be upgraded from a “King Superior” to a “King Deluxe,” which differs by only 2 square meters and has a separate tub. It still didn’t have much of a view (all we saw was a conference room in the office tower across the courtyard), but it was well furnished and laid out. I’m a sucker for small, efficient spaces, which are much more preferable than large, poorly designed “junior suites.”
A bowl of fruit with a letter from the manager was waiting on the table, and we’d been told the water, coffee (Nespresso pods), and tea in the minibar would be complimentary and refreshed daily.
The bathroom was large and clad in marble, which is about what I expected. Bath amenities were provided by Aromatherapy. In addition to the large tub built into the wall there were a separate rain shower and toilet with frosted doors.
I appreciated the electronics system. There were a variety of A/V ports, and switches throughout the room controlled individual lights or entire zones. They were It wasn’t immediately intuitive, but it wasn’t hard to figure out, either. And at night when one of us wanted to get up we could turn on the night lights without illuminating the entire room.
The bed was incredibly comfortable, which I remembered from my stay at the Conrad Hong Kong last fall. Turndown service included floor mats that said “Good Evening” as you faced the bed and “Good Morning” as you faced away from it. But it was unnerving to see the giant television across from us. It wasn’t actually that big. The problem was that it was encased in the wall and surrounded by black, reflective glass.
We weren’t offered access to the Executive Lounge during this stay because Megan is only a Gold member (though other properties might offer this). You can check out the review by Head for Points for a more detailed look. But we did get breakfast each morning at the Blue Boar.
Complimentary breakfast at hotels is something I’m used to. I have status with nearly every major chain that offers it. Usually it’s described as a buffet, but in almost every one of those instances I’m still allowed to order a la carte off the menu. I prefer this because the food sold separately tends to be fresher, and I figure the hotel wins because the buffet is nearly always more expensive. But our servers at the Conrad were quite insistent that only the buffet would be provided. (I saw the “wrong menu” at one point, which listed the buffet at £30 and a variety of plated meals for about £10-15.)
Otherwise we enjoyed our meals. We had a great tea service each morning, and the food was good if predictable. The one recommendation I have is that you order your eggs separately (this is allowed) since the scrambled eggs on the buffet were cold and runny. The fried eggs on toast I was served instead were excellent.
If you do find yourself with time to hit the gym, there is a basement level with several electronic lockers, a few treadmills, and some basic weight machines. I found it a little amusing to see all those polished lockers because the room was so small you’d hardly lose anything, and there appeared to be more of them than there were machines. But it reflected the level of class and service at this hotel.
So getting back to the introduction, did the Conrad serve our intended purpose, providing easy access to local tourist sights? It is convenient to Parliament. Otherwise I found it a long walk to anywhere interesting. The St. James’ underground station was just across the street, but when we used it most destinations we sought to visit required a transfer.
We still enjoyed our stay. If the location were better — or if we were going to be visiting sites nearby — I’d definitely consider staying here again. It appears to be a great choice for the neighborhood though it may not work as a general hotel for tourists who want a central location.