For those with the UK in their plans and who’d rather stay “in town”, here’s a tip from another TTS member – Julie Coates. Thanks Julie … sounds good!
I’ve visited London several times now (I just can’t get enough of it!) and have stayed in a variety of hotels. In this vast city, location is important, as what one likes to do after a busy day sightseeing should dictate your choice of accommodation: the South Bank, the bustling city’s heart, the ‘edgy’ East End … they have all been my previous locations. Then, last fall, I added another, and it’s now my favourite – South Kensington.
South Kensington and its famous neighbour Chelsea are relatively quiet and elegant, yet are convenient. Here one feels like a true, trendy London resident. Elegant, white terraced houses are either fabulous single-family dwellings or divided into flats or made into hotels. Most surround garden ‘squares’ which are often private (residents get a key to open the wrought-iron gates) but the trees and flowers add a sense of calm for everyone. It’s truly a residential area yet within walking distance of major museums (the Natural History, the Victoria and Albert) and just over a mile’s walk to the heart of Knightsbridge (home of Harrods and many other famous stores).
After a busy day “in town” it’s good to “go home” to a quiet hotel, relax a little, freshen up and then merely walk to a local pub or restaurant, which are abundant here. Travelling is no problem as the hotel is within easy walking distance from Gloucester Road tube station which provides service, of course, to the rest of London and also direct (stopping) service to Heathrow (no need to take the more expensive Airport Express service, which does not stop at Gloucester Road). And Victoria Station is just a few tube stops away for those who are using the Victoria – Gatwick train service or who wish to go into the countryside. Adjacent to the Gloucester Road station there’s an elegant grocery store for any snacks you may require. It also sells wines and spirits.
The property is called The Cranley, located in three elegant terraced houses at 10 Bina Gardens, between Cromwell Road and Old Brompton Road and all their delightful offerings. Around the corner (at 148 Old Brompton Road) is The Duke of Clarence pub – great for lunch – and there are several fine Indian restaurants almost next door, together with a tappas place. At 102 Old Brompton Road you’ll find a bistro called Bumpkin which advertises itself “for city folk who like a little country living”. So true! And night hawks will want to check out Nam Long- Le Shaker, a popular bar which also offers Vietnamese cuisine. We didn’t eat there, but we did enjoy a couple of exotic cocktails in the company of lots of exuberant Londoners (of all ages, I hasten to add). Not much sign of a recession at Nam Long! Don’t be alarmed if the lights go out here, and there’s a lot of car-type noise. Someone has ordered a ‘flaming Ferrari’ cocktail … a concoction of almost every spirit you can think of. Help home definitely needed!
The Cranley itself is quiet and elegant: soft colours everywhere, heavy curtains in bay windows, chandeliers and discreet lamps, antiques, English pictures and comfy sofas. Our room was small (as rooms tend to be in much of Europe) but the bed was comfortable and we didn’t spend much time there as we were constantly out and about. Breakfast is continental (if you wish for something more substantial there are several great little cafés close to the tube station), and if you return to the hotel early you can enjoy complimentary English afternoon tea or an aperitif and some canapés. Light lunches and suppers are available from the room service menu for those who wish to stay in.
I’m sure others will enjoy a stay here as much as we did and we certainly left feeling a little like Londoners rather than tourists. Full details at www.thecranley.com or telephone [011 44] 20 7373 0123.