The Thistle, Kensington Gardens – a Central London Bolthole:
I’ve quite taken to the idea of a staycation – especially when there’s shopping involved (is that any suprise?). Although right now I live in Central London, many of my friends are just out of town, so nights out tend to get curtailed so they can get home before the witching hour. Perfectly located for a girly night and a shopping trip, the Thistle Hotel is just a few minutes from three tube stations and short hop in one direction to Oxford Street and in the other to Westfield.
Newly refurbished, the rooms are smart and comfortable. Ziplock beds in every room means you’ll always have the choice of a double or twin bedded room and the suites all come equiped with a separate lounge are with sofabed.
My friend and I decided it was the perfect way to indulge in a little sale shopping and then a night out – and for her, instead of having to make her way back late at night to deepest darkest Surrey, she could spend the night in luxury, with a 180% view out across Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens from the ninth floor suite!
After a spot of shopping we relaxed in the lounge of the hotel before heading back into town for dinner.
It took about 15 minutes to get back to Soho. The very helpful relationship manager had given us a list of possible places to eat both within walking distance of the hotel and in Soho. We DID try to get a table at Marianne’s but since it only has 14 covers, you really do have to plan a bit more in advance. And, we wanted to take advantage of the wealth of no-booking restaurants in Soho these days that we normally have to avoid when my out-of-towner friend comes out for the evening, for fear of ending up eating too late for her to get home.
We ended up at Randall and Aubin – a place that I’ve been to a few times, but not particularly recently. It’s in an old butcher’s shop and has what looks like many of the original fixtures and fittings – you sit at little marble ‘nooks’ along the wall, or at high bar tables. Menus are framed on the wall, together with daily specials. Lively and buzzing on a Friday night we were lucky to find a spot to sit and watch the world go by
There’s a seafood focus, but what I remember Randall and Aubin for, and ordered again this time, is zucchini fritters. We did both order seafood as well. For my friend the crab and lemon risotto and for me the grilled squid with chilli sauce, lemon dressed rocket and pommes frites.
Mine could almost have counted as healthy, but for the pommes frites and the addition of the zucchini fritters!
Two glasses of prosecco more and we were ready for dessert, though I don’t think either of us were hungry!
Chocolate cake for me though and cheese-cake for my friend. Very light of course (!) Two course, coffee and 4 glasses of prosecco came to around £55 per person.
All that prosecco is a good way to make sure you sleep well anyway, though the suite at the Thistle was elegant, comfortable and quiet.
Breakfast the next morning was comprehensive and well planned. We did both try the cooked breakfast and were particularly impressed at the choice. Two types of bacon, two types of mushroom and two types of eggs, with more if you wanted to order. There was a good cold buffet too, something more common on the continent than in London. And a rather excellent assortment of pastries and breads that meant I managed to eat a full English, toast AND brioche.
Oh well. I just had to plan an extra 5:2 fast day!
The Thistle Kensington Gardens are currently running a special shopping promotion where you can stay at a discount price for two nights, enjoy the prosecco and full English, just like me AND they’ll give you a shopping card for Westfield. If you hurry, you might even catch the end of the sales
We were guests of the Hotel
Thistle Kensington Gardens
104 Bayswater Road London W2 3HL
Phone: 0871 376 9024 / +44 845 305 8324
Fax: 0871 376 9124 / +44 845 305 8363
Aubin and Randall
16 Brewer St