BACKGROUND This independent boutique property opened in August following a £6.5 million refurbishment (there was previously a three-star hotel here). Housed in a Grade II Listed Georgian townhouse, it claims to be London’s most high-tech property and is a member of Design Hotels. It is located on leafy Eccleston Square, a few minutes’ walk from Victoria station. Despite being so close to this major terminus, it manages to feel quite tucked away. I had to buzz to be let in the front door when I arrived, which gave it the feel of a posh bed and breakfast.
WHAT’S IT LIKE? The five-floor property has 39 rooms. Being small, there is not much public space – to the right of the entrance is a reception area, and to the left the restaurant and bar. Both feature calming tones of grey, white and black with large crystal chandeliers. The focus on technology is immediately apparent from the iPad2 that sits at reception for guests to browse, and the bank of TVs showing news channels in the two lifts.
ROOM FACILITIES There are five room categories – City Queen, Garden Queen (both 14 sqm), City King, Garden King (both 18 sqm) and Super City King (22 sqm). City rooms overlook the back of the property and Garden ones the square (I’d go for the latter, though I noticed a fair bit of noise from the street). I was in a Garden King, and the first thing you spot is that the room really is compact – there is not much space around the bed, and the bathroom is tiny. The colour palette is mainly grey with dark wood.
The focal point is the huge, comfy bed – made by Swedish manufacturer Hastens, it has a massage function and you can raise the head and foot – and, facing it, a 46-inch Panasonic 3D plasma TV. I watched a 3D movie on it (glasses are provided) and the picture was incredible. Other techie features include an iPad2 loaded with hotel info and apps for exploring London – you can also use it to surf the web (free) and book a table downstairs – an iPod dock, 3D Blu-ray player, panels by the bed controlling the lights, curtains and do-not-disturb sign, a media hub for linking gadgets to the TV, free wired and wifi internet, and UK, EU and US plug sockets.
It’s all extremely clever, though I did have a few issues (teething problems, maybe, but if your USP is technology, it’s important to have it all spot on). The iPad kept freezing – a staff member reset it for me but it happened again straight afterwards, though the next morning it worked fine. I couldn’t adjust the digital air conditioning, and the TV didn’t have 3D enabled so my companion had to adjust the settings to get it to work. There was also very little workspace, though fold-down tables were set to be added to the rooms by mid-December.
Nice touches are free 1.5-litre bottles of water, fairly priced minibars (£3.95 for a Jack Daniel’s), free London calls and international ones at VOIP cost, access to a complimentary 3D movie library, and Nespresso machines. The white marble bathroom has a tiny shower that packs in three showerheads, including a rain one (though the floor next to it got rather wet and the mirror steamed up), a TV built into the mirror, and L’Occitane toiletries. There is not much space for your things. At the push of a button, you can turn the glass walls of the bathroom opaque.
RESTAURANTS AND BARS The hotel’s restaurant, Bistrot on the Square, is an intimate spot that serves excellent French cuisine – I very much enjoyed my San Daniele ham, marinated figs in aged balsamic vinegar, smoked almonds and endive salad (£10.50) to start, and my main of fillet of wild seabass, spinach, brown shrimp and caper butter (£19.50). I also had a tasty cooked breakfast the next day, though it took half an hour to arrive despite the room being almost empty (generally, I found the service in the hotel friendly and helpful, if occasionally a little disorganised). The restaurant is set across two rooms linked by a tiny bar.
BUSINESS AND MEETING FACILITIES The back room can be shut off and used for private dining or small meetings of 12 people seated or 20 standing. A 103-inch 3D screen can be used for presentations or screenings. There are no leisure facilities.
VERDICT A clever concept that makes the most of the small rooms (bar a few technical hitches), in a pleasant location with good transport links. It’s quite expensive for the amount of space you get, though.
PRICE Internet rates for a midweek stay in February started from £336 for a City Queen room.
CONTACT Eccleston Square hotel, 37 Eccleston Square; tel +44 (0)20 3489 1000; ecclestonsquarehotel.com