Royal Garden Hotel, London
THE HOTEL: The five-star Royal Garden Hotel is located on London's Kensington High Street, on the western fringe of Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens. The hotel has undergone a £45million refurbishment across public areas and all 394 guestrooms.
THE CHECK-IN: The light, airy and serene lobby area was a pleasant contrast to busy Kensington High Street outside, and there was no queue at the reception desk so I was quickly settling into my room for the night.
THE ROOM: There are six room categories – mine was a Garden room, with a spectacular view across leafy Kensington Gardens to the central London skyline beyond. The room included large mirrors that made the most of the light, plus a small sofa, coffee table, desk, wardrobe, wall-mounted flatscreen TV, iPod docking station, laptop safe, tea and coffeemaking facilities and a minibar packed with miniatures (£7 each). The bathroom had a bath, separate walk-in shower and White Company toileteries. Wired and wireless internet is charged for.
THE BUSINESS: There are ten meeting and event spaces, all newly refurbished, with the Palace Suite's AV facilities given a significant upgrade. The pillarless room can host events for up to 550 people, while the Kensington and York suites each has capacity for 120. A business centre by the lobby includes computers, fax machine, printing facilities and secretarial services.
THE FACILITIES: The hotel has a gym, studio, sauna, steam room and spa treatment rooms, plus leaflets with jogging routes for adjacent Hyde Park. Car parking is available beneath the hotel (£5 per hour / £30 for 24hrs).
THE RESTAURANT: Min Jiang, located on the tenth floor, is earning a reputation as one of the capital's finest Chinese restaurants – and almost certainly has the best views. Its signature dish is the superb Beijing duck and the staff were more than happy to help with selecting dishes from the menu. Breakfast is served in the Park Terrace restaurant, which also offers afternoon tea and evening dining. Bertie's Bar is open from 5pm to 2am.
THE VERDICT: A well considered, modern room design with all the facilities you'd expect of a five-star hotel – and some fine views too. Food and service in Min Jiang were exemplary. My stay was marred only by a rogue fire alarm giving off a short blast at 5am!
THE DETAILS: 2-24 Kensington High Street, London, W8 4PT. Lead-in room rates from £245 including VAT and breakfast. Tel: 020 7937 8000. See: www.royalgardenhotel.co.uk.
Reviewed by Andy Hoskins (2012)