What’s it like? A former Holiday Inn and now rebranded as a result of an £8 million renovation in 2009. The decoration is modern and cheerful with contemporary paintings by artists on display (and available for sale through friendsofcreation.com). The lobby is open-plan, and towards the back are doors leading on to the hotel’s one-acre private garden, a fabulous place just off the busy Cromwell Road, which in turn backs on to the Victorian St Stephen’s Church. The lobby has a couple of computer terminals with a printer and free access to the internet. Wifi access is also available in the lobby only, but it is free of charge.
Where is it? In Kensington, a few minutes’ walk from Gloucester Road Underground station on the Piccadilly line, convenient for both Heathrow airport and central London. Cromwell Road is a major east-west arterial road, two lanes either way and extremely busy both day and night, though the hotel has triple glazing in rooms overlooking the road.
Room facilities The rooms are divided between those overlooking Cromwell Road and those overlooking the garden at the back, and despite the triple-glazing, light sleepers would be better asking for a room at the back. All have Arran Aromatics toiletries with intriguing scents such as bergamot and ginger, free mineral water, tea and coffee-making facilities, laptop safes, high-speed internet access (wired for £12 per for 24 hours), 32-inch wall-mounted flatscreen TVs with pay-for films and a good selection of complimentary TV channels. Bedrooms also have a bedside iPod docking station with a radio.
The executive floor is on the fourth level – guests staying in any of the 34 Club rooms or 20 suites have access to these facilities. To upgrade to a Club room costs £50, and for that you get breakfast, use of the lounge on the ground floor all day with free soft drinks for you and up to three guests, and alcoholic drinks from 6pm to 8pm. (In addition, Club rooms have a larger selection of amenities such as a bathrobe and slippers.) Access to the glass-fronted lounge is gained via key card. However, mine didn’t work but the staff were quick to help by issuing a new one.
Breakfast was buffet-style, but with nothing hot, but when I asked for a cooked breakfast my order was taken and then carried across the lobby from the main Traffic restaurant (see below). The lounge also has a PC and a Mac computer with free access to the internet and a seated area with a large TV.
Restaurants and bars Both of these are new. The Traffic bar is a modern-looking space just off reception, while Traffic Too [sic] is a more comfortable sitting area with a library feel and doors opening out on to the garden at the back. Streetside restaurant is open all day, and serves buffet breakfast, lunch and dinner. (Starters are £5-£7 and main courses are £12-£14.) Room service is available 24 hours a day.
Business and meeting facilities There are two meeting rooms on the ground floor, both with natural light and access to the garden. Another three rooms are on the lower ground floor, and these have some daylight coming in because of the design of the building. The largest venue can host up to 150 delegates.
Leisure facilities There is a new and impressive gym on the lower floor along with a sauna, two changing rooms and lockers.
Verdict The hotel is very good value, especially in summer when the use of the private garden is something many five-star properties would be envious of. It’s in a good position for central London, Heathrow airport and the Earls Court exhibition venue.
How many rooms? There are 162 rooms over six floors including 20 suites on the first and sixth floors – ask for ones overlooking the garden and rooftops of Kensington. There are 60 single rooms, although the beds here are more like small doubles, and 80 double rooms.
Room highlights The iPod chargers and radios in all rooms, good Arran Aromatic toiletries, free mineral water, and tea and coffee-making facilities.
Price Internet rates for a midweek stay in February started from £169 for a Standard King room.
Contact Crowne Plaza London Kensington, 100 Cromwell Road, London; tel +44 (0)20 7373 2222; ichotelsgroup.com