Tried & Tested

Hotel check: The Kingsley London

29 Oct 2009 by Tom Otley

WHAT’S IT LIKE? Rebranded and completely refurbished, this Thistle hotel has changed its name from the Thistle Bloomsbury to the Kingsley (its original name, a nod to author Charles Kingsley and the Bloomsbury Set). More than £10 million has been spent on the property, and it shows. The Edwardian Grade II Listed red-brick exterior hides a cool, modern interior with high ceilings, a bar to the left as you go in, reception further into the hotel, and the restaurant visible at the rear. Look to the right and you’ll see a breathtaking central staircase with a black iron balustrade running from the basement up to the sixth floor at the top. Black-and-white framed prints of London adorn the walls and elegant sofas sit on the landings, with burgundy carpets illuminated by Italian chandeliers. The refurbishment has been sensitively done, and the original iron radiators and large windows and doorways still remain.

WHERE IS IT? Bloomsbury Way, a couple of minutes’ walk from Holborn (linked to both King’s Cross and London Heathrow by the Piccadilly line) and Tottenham Court Road tube stations. The British Museum is behind the hotel, and the West End is a short walk away.

ROOM FACILITIES The hotel’s 129 rooms include 65 Executive rooms and 11 Junior suites with a lounge and dining area. The colours are striking – rich reds, greys and creams – with dark wood furnishings, a wall-mounted LCD TV, a good-sized workdesk and wifi access (costing £10 per 24 hours) in every room. Tea and coffee-making facilities are provided as standard, along with an iron and ironing board, a hairdryer, a radio and a laptop safe. There is no fridge or minibar, but when I asked for a bucket of ice to chill some drinks I had brought with me, one was delivered within three minutes. In comparison with other hotels in the area, the soundproofing is good, important with the number of London buses passing close by.

The light marble bathrooms have powerful showers, although the controls are a little tricky – there are hidden buttons for both the heat and water force. Toiletries are Thistle branded, and a nice eco-friendly touch is that the electricity is kept off in all the rooms before check-in, rather than having the TVs display an anodyne welcome note (still, the hotel’s manager told me that quite a few guests then ring up reception saying the television is broken).

RESTAURANTS AND BARS The hotel’s bar/lounge is surrounded by floor-to-ceiling draped glass windows. The challenge for venues such as this is trying to stop guests from straying to one of the hundreds of restaurants nearby, and this one looked reasonably busy on the night I stayed. It serves well-priced snacks throughout the day and the hotel’s restaurant, the Kingsley Two Brasserie, is open for lunch and dinner, as well as a good-value English breakfast buffet (£11.50 if you book online).

BUSINESS AND MEETING FACILITIES There are seven meeting rooms in the basement, which have also been refurbished. They are contemporary in style and are equipped with the latest audio-visual equipment. The largest, the Albion room, holds up to 100 delegates theatre-style or for a reception.

LEISURE FACILITIES None.

PRICE Internet rates for a midweek stay in November started from £229 for a Deluxe room.

CONTACT The Kingsley, Bloomsbury Way; tel +44 (0)871 376 9006; thistle.com

VERDICT An impressive reimagining of this hotel, albeit one where the listed exterior gives no clue to the calm, almost zen-like interior. It’s well placed for the West End and has convenient connections to Heathrow, with a good suite of meeting rooms.

Tom Otley

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