Somehow, I’m not sure how, I recently became 50 (though I prefer the age 49 and 12 months).
As it’s birthday week I want my obligatory trip to London to be something special, and staying a couple of doors down from Winston Churchill’s old house is certainly that.
My partner and I are in SW1, a 5-10 minute walk from London’s Victoria coach station, and thanks to my phone’s street maps taking me round the houses, we’ve just had a good walk around the neighbourhood.
It’s a beautiful area, and our hotel, 37 Eccleston Square, is as good as I’d hoped. Fast, efficient check-in; a compact but elegant room with a comfy bed; terrific shower and plenty of tech to keep me happy. The old school iPad is handy for checking out the local dining. We’re staying not far from the Boisdale restaurant I reviewed in 2017, and pass it while pottering round the area.
After checking in there’s just enough time to grab a shower, get changed and head off to see a business associate before a show.
By the time we return around 10.30, trying to find a pizza place on the doorstep is far from easy. However, the concierge is more than happy to order one for us. It arrives 45 minutes later; a medium cheese and mushroom costs around £13 and is terrific.
We scoff it on the handily provided bed tray. Classy I know, but some of my happiest holiday memories are crashed out in a hotel room watching a blockbuster on TV while devouring local pizza.
One of the hotel’s USPs is the 3D TV. You can order the film you want from the iPad, and it’s brought to your room with 3D glasses. Except ours doesn’t recognise my phone number for logging in, so I nip down to reception. The film I want has already been booked out for the night, so I settle for nature doc Wild Ocean, which doesn’t seem very 3D.
There’s a wealth of channels. I’ve never been in any London hotel that offered S4C, but it’s a great touch for visitors yearning for the green, green grass of home.
However, it’s late, we’re exhausted and time for bed.
The area is wonderfully quiet, and the blackout curtains mean I sleep until 8ish.
We’re lucky enough to have a balcony so we can watch life go by while having a cuppa. A posh coffee maker is provided with three pods, but you can no doubt order more. Tea you can get from elsewhere in the hotel, which is a bit of a minus as I love making a cuppa in hotels. It’s usually the first of many rituals.
We also have a free minibar, which is one of the bonuses of booking direct with the hotel. It’s not a wealth of miniatures, so no chance of having a boozy session, but a couple of beers, bottled water and chocolate is ideal to tide us over. And as it’s a fair price minibar, the prices are surprisingly affordable.
The lights and curtains are automated, so there’s plenty of fun to be had there, and the transparent shower and bathroom windows turn opaque at the touch of a button. (An added bonus is the Star Trek-style ’whoosh’ sound effect of the bathroom door when it opens. Yes, it’s the little things that add up to a really fun stay).
Breakfast in the elegant dining room is outstanding. My full English boasts delicious mushrooms, toast, elegantly sliced sausage and excellent scrambled eggs. Rachel’s veggie omelette is equally terrific. Together with a great pot of tea, we’re set up for the day.
I mention the 3D glitch to reception and they couldn’t be more helpful, arranging demos at the other end of dining room and in our room.
The enormous ground floor hi-def 3D TV is breathtaking, while the one in our room is so immersive I’m hooked and start wondering about staying another night just to make the most of it.
Alas, our noon checkout looms and we have a full day of sightseeing ahead, though not before I order a couple of cappuccinos from room service and enjoy them while soaking up the views from that balcony.
Forty five years ago it’s the sort of place I would have stamped my feet over having to leave. I’d like to think I’ve matured a bit since then, though that reluctance to depart is still very much present.
Eccleston Square Hotel is a fabulous stay with terrific facilities and great staff.
Like the hostelry in that classic Eagles song, we can check out any time we want. Trouble is we don’t want to leave.