Monday, 18 March 2013

Doing London in style

I'm more a jeans and T-shirt kind of guy than a three-piece-suit style of fellow, but fortunately both are made very welcome at The Athenaeum Hotel, one of London’s most prestigious addresses; popular with stars of stage and screen as well as many Australians. 

The Athenaeum offers every possible luxury – particularly if you opt to stay in one of the recently 
refurbished individual apartments, favoured by the likes of movie mogul Steven Spielberg. And 
your apartment is serviced twice a day, just in case you've had a mid-afternoon rock star-style party.
There's a comfortable ambience here. The staff don’t look down on ordinary mortals and are polite, helpful and respectful, as you’d expect of a hotel that counts Harrison Ford, Michael Douglas and Sandra Bullock among its regular guests and has been called “Tinseltown on the Thames.” 

There’s a uniformed doorman to help on your arrival and to order taxis on your departure, and the hotel is happy to store your baggage at no extra cost if you’re heading out of town for a couple of days, as I was. There are also porters to assist with your suitcases and you are escorted to your room and shown all its features (a rarity in Australia nowadays).

My apartment (with kitchen and dining area, separate sitting room and an ultra luxe bed that was hard to leave in the morning) featured a complimentary bowl of fruit. There’s an espresso machine and all soft drinks, waters and snacks are complimentary. 

There are thoughtful touches like an iPod dock in the lounge room, a safe, slippers, robes and big fluffy towels. A free newspaper is delivered to rooms each morning (the establishment Daily Telegraph, of course) and there is a full range of satellite TV channels.

Head to the stylish and sophisticated bar for a drink and you are immediately offered complimentary bowls of  green olives and sliced almonds. The green apple martini is excellent (as you’d expect for £15).

While the service is polished, it is not without difficulties with one or two of the Eastern European staff (“You please point” is not acceptable at five-star hotel.) 

That said, there is bar and room service 24 hours a day, free wifi throughout and a business centre with fast broadband and printer 24 hours a day. Each of the apartments has an individual entrance so you don’t have to use the lobby with the hoi polloi but there are no bad rooms – they all have pillow menus, complimentary magazines and mini bar and Bose speakers.

Afternoon teas are hugely popular, but The Athenaeum also has a top-grade restaurant and London’s largest selection of whiskies; 270 and counting. There are free bikes if you’d like to cycle through one of the many nearby Royal parks, and a luxury on-site spa if you feel the need for even more pampering.

Australian dollar rates start from $579 per night, including taxes, breakfasts for two, drinks and snacks and wifi.and free airport transfers for stays of three nights or more.. 

The Athenaeum offers both hotel and apartment accommodation and is beautifully situated on Piccadilly, overlooking Green Park. It is at 116 Piccadilly, London.

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