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When Lee Mead won BBC's 'Any Dream Will Do' my mum was ecstatic. She had probably spent half her wages voting for him, so tickets to see him play Joseph were an obvious choice for her birthday in November last year. Thinking it was a brilliant idea, she then invited my nan and aunt, and just for good measure, I decided to drag my husband along as I'd never experienced a show in Londons famous theatre land. We soon realised it was a fair way to travel and we had might as well make the most of our adventure and booked a show and stay theatre trip. After reading up on the choice of hotels, we opted for the 3 star Strand Palace as it a) looked pretty swanky from the photo, b) was only 5 minutes from the Adelphi where Joseph was playing c) was cheaper than some of the others AND included breakfast! Bargain.
Our cab driver was extremely friendly, commended us on our hotel choice and quickly pointed out how close we were to Covent Garden and showed us short cuts through the streets to get to the Thames bank quickly - oh yes, we had also booked a trip on the London Eye - which would save us a fortune in taxi fare. We were dropped off right at the huge glass frontage of the building and by this stage I was rather pleased with our choice of hotel.
After climbing a few steps we found ourselves in a not so large lobby, which contained the concierge desk, 3 elevators with classy gold doors, cloakroom and a hallway leading to a jewellers, restaurant and toilets. Of course, being a local yokel in the big smoke off I trundle to the concierge, brandishing our party's confirmation. He very kindly directed me onwards and through to a very impressive reception area, bigger than the ground floor of my house twice over. We deposited my mum, nan and luggage on one of the comfy sofas and went to check in, 10 minutes before our 2pm check in time. Although the staff weren't really in any hurry (it took about half an hour to get the three rooms sorted) they were very polite and because the two double rooms hadn't yet been cleaned those rooms were upgraded to club rooms. No complaints from me!
The room was big enough, but definitely not spacious! The bed was a nice size double with a dresser one side and small cabinet the other. Opposite the end of the bed was a narrow desk, holding a flat screen and a keyboard. Just after this, the room lengthened into a kind of 'L' shape and here was a built in wardrobe and a small round table and chair. The wardrobe again wasn't huge, but plenty big enough to hold our bags in the bottom and the two other outfits we had bought. On the desk we found a kettle, some bottles of water and a basket holding a nice little selection of tea, coffee & biscuits. The room was clean and tidy and smelt fresh, no musty smell or stench of cabbage - goes to show you the hotels I usually stay in! The decor is 'contemporary' (as stated in the brochure) which means white and off whites on the walls, white sheets with chocolate and deep red throws and cushions. Nice and simple, and the sheets felt so new, very nice. My only moan is about the furniture. It all looked like it had been bought from a car boot. None of it matched, the desk and cabinet being dark wood to match the door and they were all scratched and marked, letting down the overall classy look. We also noticed that all the woodwork in the hallways was also the same, which made the hotel seem slightly dated and a bit grotty. The bathroom was completely white, but did look as though it had recently been refurbished. The room was a nice size, again not huge but big enough for the two of us to move about. There was a Dove dispenser in the bath with overhead shower and another by the sink. The whole space was very clean and well lit and the towels were soft and fluffy. If you do ever stay here, fluffy bathrobes are also provided to club room guests, but you have to ask for them. There is also Wi-Fi in the clubrooms.
By the time I had finished my Dooyoo inspired inspection of the bathroom, my husband was engrossed with the t.v. He proudly announced it had Sky,a big thing for him as I had cancelled ours only a few weeks before and I began to worry if I would be able to get him to the show. So as he nodded off infront of another repeat I headed off to inspect my parents room, which surprise, surprise looked very much like ours! Only some of their furniture was different and they had wooden shutters instead of curtains. So, my mum and I sneaked down to check out my nan and aunts room. (guess where I get my noseyness from?) Their room was quite spacious but the decor was different. Kind of a bit like my nan's spare room actually, floral curtains and bedspreads, but again, it was very clean.
Okay. So after a busy evening, we retired to bed. Very comfy too and as I said before, the sheets were lovely. So did I sleep well? No, not really! Nothing about the room though, just the outside noise, obviously the price you pay for such a central location and living out in the sticks, we just aren't used to it!
Fantastic. The Adelphi Theatre was an even shorter distance than stated on the internet, more like a one minute walk than five. You can see the Adlephi sign as you stand on the pavement outside the hotel. Covent Garden is literally behind the Hotel, so you just have to walk up one of the side streets and you're there. The Savoy is almost directly opposite and the other theatres are also close making the Strand Palace a good central location. On our visit, we walked from the Hotel to the Millenium Eye and on across to Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament. None of us have any walking difficulties though and it took us about 20-30 minutes at a leisurely pace to get to the Eye. If you have any mobility problems however slight, I'd advise getting a taxi as the route does have steep steps.
The hotel houses two restaurants.
The Strand Carvery is just off the main reception area and offers a two course carvery for £16.95 or a three course for £19.95. My hubby and I decided to find a restaurant in Covent Garden but the rest of our party had their evening meal here. They reliably inform me that it was delicious, the main course choices were lamb, turkey, beef, gammon or a couple of vegetarian choices (none of them being vegetarian they couldn't remember what they were!). My Dad remembers there were about five or six different puddings, including cheesecake, apple pie and 'something chocolately'. Sorry, not very clear for review purposes but you just can't get the staff these days.
Johnstone's Brasserie is the restaurant I mentioned at the beginning of this lengthy tale, the one down the corridor just off the lobby, remember? I'm afraid none of us can comment on the lunch and evening meals but here is a small selection for an idea:
Trio of homemade gradvalax £7.95
Crayfish salad £6.95
Grilled english lamb cutlets £13.95
Grilled marinated halibut in lime and corriander £12.95
Gorgonzola and walnut tortellini £10.95
Rich chocolate & praline truffle £6.20
Sticky toffee pudding and lemon sorbet £5.95
They also have quite an extensive wine list, light bites and side orders.
This is also the room where they serve breakfast. Now this, I can comment on and it was fabulous! One table had about eight big front opening 'warmers' where you could help yourself to bacon, eggs (scrambled & fried) sausage, tomatoes, fried bread, beans and mushrooms. (I don't think I've missed anything.) On the bar was a selection of fruit juice, which was lovely and chilled, a selection of four different danish pastries and bread rolls. Another table held a huge bowl of fruit salad and cereals, milk and toasters. Fresh food was constantly being brought in but the staff didn't hang around watching how much you were eating, so we stuffed ourselves! In our book this was an absolute bargain, as most of the hotels didn't even offer breakfast.
Hops Bar is off the reception area and where we went for a drink before heading out. I don't really know how to describe it, apart from it could do with a good overhaul, stepping from the newly refurbished reception area into this bar with its tiled floor, stucco walls and wonky tables feels a bit, um, confusing.
Mask Bar. We didn't go to this bar, but from the write up in the brochure (which we collected on our way out - duh!) we really should have gone there not the Hops bar. I think this room has already had its refurbishment and the pics look nice. Also, they serve cocktails and it's open later, until 2am!
I had to mention this bit. We had to checkout by 11am, so asked them to store our bags here. There is a sign on the door giving a price for this service (sorry can't remember, but it wasn't much) however, they happily took our bags, gave us a ticket and didn't charge a penny! Also when we retrieved them, one of the gentlemen very kindly carried my nans bag to the taxi.
We booked as a package through Show and Stay, which cost us £128.00 each for the tickets and hotel. The seats were second row in the dress circle, which the website states are £55.00, so I've worked out we paid £73.00 for our room
I'm afraid the Hotels website isn't very helpful either, showing all rooms on a room only rate from £135 - £185. (per room)
This hotel is obviously a work in progress. Judging by the work that has already been carried out it should be stunning when finished. But then maybe the prices will go up, so if you are planning a theatre break, book now! The location is fantastic, there is a lovely relaxed atmosphere, the staff are lovely and everything is clean. I would definitely stay here again, even with the lack of sleep.
For more info, visit the website, it even has the full menu for the restaurants and a cocktail list for the mask bar. www.strandpalacehotel.co.uk
I booked a double room at the Strand Palace back in July 05 for NYE 2006. I did this to ensure there would be no availability problems. This was not to be the case.
After arriving after a long journey we looked forward to checking in and relaxing. There was a big queue, understandable seeing as it was NY and obviously very busy. When we got our turn to check in the lady dealing with us was rude and abrupt. We were then told in due course there has been a mix up with the bookings and they did not have a double room for us. Instead we were told we had two singles. Not acceptable seeing as I had paid £160 for a double room for my partner and I. When I showed dissatisfaction the lady told me that it's ok, I wouldn't be charged any extra for having two single rooms!!! After a lot of talking and not getting anywhere we were offered a twin bedroom, or to be sent out to a novotel on the outskirts of London where they had free double rooms (no way!)
We took the key and made our way to the twin room. Only to find the card hadn't been programmed properly and it did not unlock the door. I went back to reception to find the same lady 'sucking her teeth' at me and tutting... She checked the card and sent me back to try. AGAIN, this did not work. I was getting quite angry by the whole situation and this time the manager reprogrammed the card and we were able to enter.
We found the room, small dark, dated, musty. Certainly not what I'd expect for the money I had paid.
This review is about my Christmas party experience at the Strand Palace Hotel.
This year, I was in charge of organising our office Christmas party, and, being based in South East London, the department tends to head to Bromley or Greenwich for a meal. But this year we decided to go all out, and go 'up west', and so I came across the Strand Palace hotel on my googlequest and we decided to go posh as well.
The booking process was slightly tiresome, seeing as the particular member of staff we made our booking through was somewhat challenged in the brains department. The initial booking process was easy. We booked ourselves in for the three-course carvery meal, and then Channy and I (the office babies) were sent scuttling around collecting everybody's cash (£33 per head). All was sent in when a couple of weeks later, the girl calls me back and asked for our deposit. I told her that my colleague had sent it, which caused much confusion, until she realised that we were in fact only booking one party. I do have to question why on earth she thought that the same department in the same hospital would be booking two separate Christmas parties on the same date, in the same hotel? Bless her cottonwool brains. Enough of my moaning about the staff.
After some thought, 6 of us decided to book in to stay the night in the hotel, as getting home after 1am would be an absolute mission, and extremely cold. So we had 3 in one room, one in the other, and two in another. It annoyed me slightly that we were placed on the seventh, fifth, and third floors respectively, when we could have been closer, but we did book separately so I won't pick too many holes here. The prices were £60 for a single room and £90 for a double, £135 for a triple. This was though a special deal only available for a limited time. I believe this offer is finished now, and so you will need to visit the website to look for the current prices, but they do run offers throughout the year.
The hotel itself is situated on the Strand, as the name might suggest. For those of you that don't know London, this is the street on which Charing Cross Station is, along with many theatres, and it backs onto Covent Garden. The hotel is placed on a corner and Art Deco style building, and has a great big blue light stating the name, it cannot be missed, just turn out of Charing Cross Station to the right, walk 5 minutes down past the Adelphi, et voila!
The lobby of the hotel is also fairly grand. Decorated in cream, black and brown, with luxurious leather sofas in front of the reception desk. There is a Residents Bar, a restaurant, a bar/brassierie, and a concierge service, along with a left luggage spot. The staff at reception were quite proper, but friendly and helpful.
Our room for three was on the fifth floor and I have to say, I was a bit disappointed when we arrived, as it looked like any old Travelodge room. I am not sure what I was expecting, but as a four star hotel I wanted something a bit grander for my money. Nevertheless, there were three beds, an en suite bathroom, a large wardrobe, tea and coffee making facilities, and a telly. A hairdryer was in the drawer, I took mine anyway, because I am fussy. However, there were a few faults with the room. Firstly, the remote control did not work, there was no light above the full length mirror in the cupboard which meant we dressed virtually in the dark, and worst of all no steal-able toiletries! The view from our window was also not great. As we were on an interior facing wall, all there was to look down on was the boiler house below.
Us three ladies got ready in our room, and then ventured down to the restaurant for a nosh. We of course, being fashionably late, missed the table kerfuffle. The restaurant had been set up so that there were 9 of us on each table, and we were separated by a large pillar, hardly desirable. After some arguing with my colleague, they relented and moved one table so we had an L formation.
I wasn't too impressed with the food either. My salmon that I asked for to start looked like it had come out of a tin, and tasted like cat food. A colleague had asked for hers without the sauce (us ladies must watch the calories!), but of course it came with, and the staff were reluctant to change it. The main course, was a carvery affair, e.g. we all trooped up and stood in line to get our food. I don't really like the carvery set up at all as its much like a school canteen, but I suppose it is an effective way of doling out the food to large numbers of people (there were several parties in the same room). I found the main course horrible, not too keen on turkey, I went for the gammon, which wasn't bad, but the Yorkshire pudding was dry, and the potatoes uncooked. Pudding for me was a mini chirstmas pudding, was OK, but nothing out of the ordinary, and I couldn't help but eye up the cheesecake that most of my colleagues had ordered. Wine came with the meal, and so was planted on the tables, but with 18 party people (they don't all get out much), it went quickly, and we ended up having to buy more.
After the meal, a few of us progressed to the dancefloor to work it all back off again, while the others (men and old folk) stayed behind to ponder life. The music was spot on though, a bit of modern stuff, a bit of cheese and some oldies. We were particularly loving the Ricky Martin bit, and Channy and I were literally doing salsa to it, on the empty dancefloor (neither of us had done salsa before in our lives). The dancefloor was small, as it was just a side room of the restaurant, but with the number of people flaking out and leaving early from other parties, it was fine for us. We danced for most of the night, while others chatted in the restaurant, which was being cleared away for the following morning. However, no pressure was put on us to move elsewhere.
At one am the disco finished, but the party was far from over. We made our way to the heaving residents bar, (so called, because its only for residents, doh!) and continued to drink and talk until closing time at 3am, at which time, we moved on out to the lobby after collected various bottles, openers and drinking materials from our rooms. We stayed here until half past four and there was no pressure from staff for us to go away, which I liked, because we felt more at home.
We trotted to bed, and munched on Doritos and Haribo (purchased ourselves, no mini bar either!) for an hour also, talking about boys and watching Sunset Beach.
At half eight we rose, or rather fell out of bed, stuck our tired legs in our jeans and trundled down for our Full English, which I must say was pretty good, especially compared to the night before. My one complaint here is that the juice was served in too smaller glass, and so I had to drink four to sate my self-inflicted vitamin C deficiency! Bigger glasses please, Strand!
Checkout time was 12 noon, by which time my tiredness had faded, and off we all went, going our separate ways back to the real world.
The hotel has a conference and banquesting centre, although we did not see this. Looking at the webite now I can see that there are two rather posh looking suites and club rooms. The standard room in the photo does look a lot grander than it is, don't they always
All in all, I had a good time, although this may be more to do with company than with the hotel. The staff were polite (if not all there) and the rooms were clean, that's pretty much all I can say for my stay. I was expecting a little more grandiose and I was disappointed not to get it.
If you want to see for yourself, the reservations line is 0207 379 4737,or you can book online at www.strandpalacehotel.co.uk. Just don't expect anything frivolous. I have said 'no to 'recommend to potential buyers' because there are better, cheaper places out there.