“ Swiss Cottage, 4 Adamson Road, London NW3 3HP „
We stayed at this hotel recently when visiting Josh's Godparents for a barbeque; and this may, indeed, come as something of a surprise. A barbeque at a Swiss Cottage? Surely I mean a fondue! I have not lost my marbles. If you book this hotel, hoping to see young men in tight leather shorts, playing alpine horns, yodelling and enjoying a traditionally neutral military stance then you'll probably be very disappointed, for this is not a Swiss Cottage. No! Swiss Cottage is essentially the name of a road junction on the A41 linking Central London to the affluent north-west suburb of Hampstead, and the Swiss Cottage hotel is conveniently located for Hampstead and its environs in a quiet side road, a couple of hundred yards from Swiss Cottage tube station. The location is pretty good. If you want to be near Hampstead, as we did, then you're only a short walk away. It's uphill, but takes about fifteen minutes. Central London is about fifteen minutes away on the tube (or underground). The hotel is well placed in a quiet, leafy back street and comprises four imposing victorian properties joined into one property. Booking This is a Best Western property, so can be found easily via their web site. I actually stumbled upon it through the "Laterooms" web site, where I managed to find a substantial discount on the rack-rate. To be honest, even for a London hotel, I think the rack rate is a little steep, but we managed to get a deluxe double room for £79.50 (about $125), including tax and breakfast and this seemed to be a fair price for what we got. The hotel has its own website (www.swisscottagehotel.co.uk) with plenty of photographs to entice you. You'll get a fairly realistic idea of what the place is like if you take a look. I booked by e-mail, directly with the hotel, and the process went smoothly. The staff are friendly and, even at this stage of the process, communications made one feel welcome.
I ne eded to provide credit card details to secure the room. You can, of course, do this by telephone if you feel at all wary in respect of sending sensitive data over the 'net. Arrival We took something of a chance and arrived by car. This hotel has 59 rooms and 4 parking spaces! We were lucky and managed to park. To be honest, most people staying at London hotels probably don't take their cars. It was a short walk around the corner to the front of the hotel. The hotel is an attractive building and, as I've said, comprises four large Victorian houses merged into one property. British, American and European flags fly above the steps leading you into... Reception. Fairly typical of a small hotel, reception is a small office area with a counter. The ambience is pleasant, calm and fairly luxurious. The reception staff were extremely friendly and very helpful. A quick imprint of my credit card, a couple of signatures and the key to room 305 was ours. Smoking, as requested. It's a filthy habit, I know. We were pointed in the direction of the lift and headed off to find our room. The lift deserves special mention. Compact and Bijou, it states that it accommodates a maximum of four people. Two people, minimal luggage and baby Josh, however, brought it to its capacity, I felt. Decorated with tinted mirrors with the hotel's name elegantly etched onto the glass, and with external opening doors (as opposed to sliding ones), it was an interesting experience (though the most unique hotel lift award still goes to the hotel I stayed at in Prague. That one had NO doors!) I digress. We were very soon in our... Bedroom. Step inside! London hotel rooms have a reputation for being small, but we didn't feel cramped. The hotel prides itself on the individual decoration of its rooms and we did feel that they'd made an effort. The room was clean, there were paintings on the walls,
rugs on the carpets and a collection of antique-looking furniture. The bed was definitely a double, as opposed to a King, but was comfortable, with sheets, blankets and a very nice bedspread. The pillows were plump and, had it not been for baby Josh's refusal to sleep until the wee small hours of the night, would have certainly ensured a great night's sleep. There was a colour television, with plenty of channels, but poor reception, tea / coffee making facilities, two comfortable chairs and a coffee table. There was also a working desk with telephone and dataport. There was no minibar, which is a good thing when travelling with an inquisitive 18-month old baby! There was plenty of wardrobe space - two wardrobes, in fact, one of which was built-in. Oh - and we'd asked for a cot (or crib) for Josh and, for once, this was already installed in the room, and fully assembled. The bathroom Made good use of the available space. Again, an attempt had been made to individualise this and there was a beautifully decorated Victorian wash basin, complete with serial number! Otherwise, fairly standard stuff, with a toilet, and bath / shower. The water was hot enough to shower in. A bath might have been on the chilly side. Public Rooms We were visiting friends, so really this was just "somewhere to lay our heads". We didn't use the lounge or bar, but they certainly looked welcoming and, for a London hotel, the bar prices did not seem to be too unreasonable. As far as I could work out, the restaurant is only open for breakfast, but if you are hungry, room service is available. There are plenty of places to eat near the hotel and Hampstead, in particular, has some real treasures. The Bedroom Floor Was moderately comfortable if you needed to lie on it in order to coax a baby to sleep. He eventually went to sleep at 2am. The clocks went forward due to British Summer Time. He then awoke at 6am. N
ot a lot of sl eep was had. But then, YOU won't be travelling with Josh, you lucky people! Breakfast Was served in the breakfast room on the ground floor and was a buffet arrangement. Continental style or cooked English breakfast could be had and seemed to be quite reasonable. And, yes, you could have Muesli! Given that the hotel could supply a cot in the bedroom, I was somewhat surprised that they could not supply a high chair at breakfast. Thus, breakfast ended up being something of a rushed affair, undertaken in shift work. Josh wriggled just a little too much and managed to fall onto the floor. It just wasn't going to work, so we retreated to our room, ready to check out. Check-out This was efficient and friendly. My Best Western card number was noted, the bill was paid and we were on our way. In conclusion, Despite being part of the Best Western group, this certainly didn't feel like a chain hotel. Nor did it feel shoddy. Great efforts have been made to give the place a welcoming and individual feel and the staff go out of their way to be helpful. I have just two criticisms. Firstly, several of the things in our room seemed to be in need of some basic maintenance - the curtain retainer, towel rail and tumbler holder all seemed to be about to fall off the wall. Secondly, in the breakfast room, although yellow plastic table coverings may be easy to clean, they hardly shout "class"! But these are minor points. Overall, this was something of a gem and I'd happily recommend it - especially if you happen to need to be in this particular part of London. Andrew