Thursday, November 15, 2012
Greetings from London City Airport, where my flight is currently delayed indefinitely due to fog (and to think I thought those days were over when I left San Francisco!). Waiting in the airport for a flight that may or may not depart sometimes makes me feel like traveling is a bit overrated. After all, there are plenty of ways to get the same experience without leaving London. Last weekend, for instance, I staycationed at the Kensington Hotel in London.
The hotel, which is conveniently located around the corner from the South Kensington tube station, invited me for an overnight stay on Saturday. My room was a beauty, with high ceilings, striking red curtains, a large bed, and a spacious bathroom. A flat-screen TV and iPod docking station sat in the corner. There was no desk, but I wasn’t planning to do any work while I was there anyway.
In front of the bay window was a small table with a comfy chair on either side. On it sat a plate of fruit and a beautiful vase full of fresh red roses. Later a thermos of green tea and two little slices of cake would arrive with the turn-down service.
The bathroom was fully stocked with all the amenities, including a toothbrush and toothpaste, manicure kits, and cosmetics. One of the boxes had been partially emptied, but the rest were full of everything I could have needed on an overnight stay.
After a long day of winter activities in London, I arrived at the hotel ready to relax, and relax I did. As soon as I spotted the large free-standing bathtub in the bathroom, I turned on the taps and had a nice post-ice skating soak. It was so calming and quiet that I almost fell asleep.
But I didn’t have time. After my bath, I dressed for dinner and met a friend in the hotel’s Aubrey restaurant. The cozy space was lined with bookcases and green leather banquettes, making it perfect the perfect place for a winter meal.
We were treated to a pre-Thanksgiving menu, which delighted my inner-American (and my outer American, too. Let’s be honest, this Californian isn’t fooling anyone).
A bottle of Landon Pinot Noir from Germany started us off, and soon we were enjoying bowls of butternut squash soup, plates of turkey with stuffing, roasted vegetables, and bacon-wrapped sausages, and slices of pumpkin and pecan pie. It was an enjoyable meal, but the soup and mains could have been a little warmer when they were served.
The next morning I woke up early and hopped in the shower. The handle strangely fell off in my hand when I turned it, and the water pressure was thunderous, but otherwise things went smoothly. I also noticed that there was no actual door on the bathroom itself, which made me glad I hadn’t invited a friend to stay the night.
Breakfast was back in the restaurant, which was opened up to reveal a larger, brighter space appropriate for a morning meal. I helped myself to fresh fruit at the buffet, which also offered a wide variety of pastries, croissants, juices, breads, cheeses, and cold cuts.
I mostly held out for the hot breakfast, as my favorite morning dish was listed on the menu: Eggs Benedict. I ordered the smoked salmon version in an effort to pretend I was being healthy. The muffins were a bit small, but the overall blend of flavors was right. It was a good way to start the day.
Leaving the hotel, on the other hand, was not. I had enjoyed my stay so much that I didn’t want to go. This was particularly true as I walked through the lobby lounges on the way to the front desk. The abundance of comfy chairs, warm fireplaces, and inviting sofas tempted me to sit down and relax for the rest of the day.
But the check-out process was smooth and the added touch of a complimentary bottle of water to ease my journey home was a nice one.
Now that I’m finished writing and my flight has just been canceled, I’m even more tempted to restrict my travel to places I can reach on public transport. Given that the Kensington Hotel in London fits that description, I might just hop back on the DLR and turn my trip into another staycation.