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If you are staying in an Executive Room, or have Diamond status with Hilton, you will have access to the fantastic lounge. The premium, tasteful look and feel of the hotel continues in here.
Note the amount of empty seats? That has changed. My most recent visit in early January 2018 was a very different experience, and I managed to secure the very last available table at around 7PM. I blame all these travel blogs telling people how to get elite status with Hilton!
Food and drink offering in here is well above average for Hilton lounges, I might go as far to say the best. Staff will greet you on your way in, and offer tea or coffee. After that, you can help yourself from the bean to cup machine, which serves excellent coffee. They also have paper cups to allow you take one with you.
Breakfast generally consists of
- Hot options
- Nicely cooked scrambled egg (not overcooked like some places – Looking at you Holiday Inn Express!)
- Fruit (generally 3 or 4 options)
- Fruit salad
- Smoked salmon
- Cold meats
And you can, of course, order from the kitchen although I always forget that and generally go for something like this
Evening food options are generally broad, and do vary slightly each time. Here’s a typical evening platter for me;
Now the details you’ve all been waiting for……..the drinks!
- Distillery beer (pictured above) – a house special that tastes a bit like Peroni
- Red/white wine
- Fizzy white stuff (Cava or Prosecco generally)
- Spirits (typically something like)
- Jack Daniels
- Bottled ‘Schweppes’ mixers
The staff will generally serve your first drink to your table, and are pretty good at walking around offering refills, but it’s perfectly acceptable to help yourself to refills when required.
I must admit, I rarely stray from the lounge when I stay at this hotel, but there are some good (although somewhat pricey) alternatives. The main restaurant (Oxbo) is described by the hotel as follows;
Showcasing the area’s historic influences and our upscale vibe, OXBO Bankside serves mouth-watering dishes with fresh British ingredients including regionally sourced artisan meats, fish, herbs and vegetables. With its vibrant atmosphere, this is the perfect place for a hearty breakfast, nutritious light bite, or unforgettable lunch or dinner. The open kitchen concept allowing chefs to cook in front of guests, enhancing the experience and adding to the theatre of the restaurant.
The informal option is Distillery;
The Distillery is Bankside’s destination Bar, where hotel guests, local business people and residents choose to enjoy great bites and excellent drinks in a vibrant, engaging and sophisticated setting, no matter what time of day. Located on the site of Stevenson & Howell’s Standard Works, a renowned essence factory in 1800s, The Distillery pays homage to its heritage, serving a range of signature cocktails incorporating homemade aromatics, infusions and bitters. The bar will also serve a range of sharing platters and bar snacks, prepared by the restaurant kitchen and served until late, such as Chickpea and Tahini hummus with warm garlic, Khobez bread and Five spice dusted crisp fried Pork belly with chili, lime and soy dressing.
I’ve eaten occasionally in both, and the food was excellent. However, with starters in Oxbo running up to £15, and mains up to £34, plus the dreaded ‘discretionary’ 12.5% service charge, this can very quickly add up (think of all the extra Honors points, though?!). My advise, if you have access, is to fill up in the lounge and maybe get one or two small dishes from the Distillery (the Buttermilk fried chicken, and the pork belly are excellent). Once you’ve eaten all that, you may feel the need to exercise (but not straight after!) , which leads me nicely onto…..
In the guts of the hotel, below ground is a mid sized gym, offering a mix of cardio machines, a multi-exercise cable machine and a selection of free weights. There is also a small swimming pool and jacuzzi. I find people generally look at you funny if you take photos in a gym or swimming pool, so let’s reproduce the hotel’s own photos here.
Here’s the thing with this hotel: When it opened, I could generally book a week night for around £150 for a standard room. That is no longer the case, most of the time. If you know your plans well in advance and can coincide with a sale, you can still get similar rates (I got £130 early January), but looking for a mid week night in February at the moment, it’s £216 (Honors Pre-Pay sale rate).
Reward stays are generally priced at 70,000 for a standard room reward, leaping to 140,000 for a Deluxe. On quieter weekends, the lowest I can see is 46,000 (£134 Honors sale).
The only downside to report is that sometimes it’s too expensive for me to be able to stay for work (not that I’d generally pay >£200/night personally either!). Other than that, if I can get the right price, it’s my first choice for London. The next time the wife fancies a trip to London, I will also look out for decent points rates. So, if you have a more generous expense budget, a good stash of Honors points, or just have more cash to splurge on travel this place is definitely worth staying at.
If you are considering a Hilton stay in the near future, remember the sale ends January 31st