BACKGROUND Thistle Hotels is rolling out refurbishments across the brand, and this four-star central London property, formerly the Thistle Bloomsbury, underwent a £10 million revamp in 2009. The Kingsley is one of the hotels that donated a prize for our annual online charity auction – to place a bid on a two-night stay for two people with breakfast and dinner, visit businesstraveller.com/auctions.
WHAT’S IT LIKE? Thanks to its modest size (129 rooms), its terracotta brick Edwardian exterior and its design features, the Kingsley feels like a boutique property. The refurbishment didn’t involve major structural changes, and blend of the historical building with contemporary décor works very well. The white marble lobby is illuminated by neon lilac strip lighting, and the original marble staircase that winds to the top of the six-floor building is covered with deep purple carpet. Upon arrival, staff were friendly and chatty. Reception was well-manned every time I passed, and queues were consistently short.
WHERE IS IT? In Bloomsbury, within a five-minute walk from two Tube stations (Holborn and Tottenham Court Road) and a short walk from Oxford Street, Covent Garden and the British Museum. I was able to stroll back to the hotel from Soho in about ten minutes.
ROOM FACILITIES My room was a Junior suite on the fourth floor. The décor was very well done – neutral and contemporary. The comfortable queen-sized bed had a grey canvas padded headboard framed by thick mahogany wood, and a grey velvety throw. Beside one wall was a long, dark wooden desk with a comfortable chair. There were four plug sockets above the desk (one European) and an iLuv iPod dock. A flatscreen Philips TV was upon the wall facing the bed, and there was a second one in the lounge area, which, this being a corner room, was perpendicular to the bedroom area.
The stylish furnishings and soft colour palette continued to this area, where there was a sofa, armchair, coffee table, and a dining table for four. Photos of London scenes printed on canvas were hung on the walls, and looking out through the window, you could see the rooftops of this built up area of London.
The minimalist bathroom had a shower over the tub with a rainshower head, and a faux-wooden floor. Thistle toiletries were provided, and other in-room amenities included tea- and coffee-making facilities, an iron, an ironing board, robes, slippers, a luggage rack, a laptop safe, free still and sparkling water, a minibar and a hairdryer attached to a power box inside the drawer under the desk (this didn’t work, but another one was brought up within five minutes after I phoned reception).
Members of Thistle Hotels’ Signature loyalty programme (which is free to join) get 30 minutes of free wifi that can be accessed after obtaining a code. Otherwise, it costs £10 for 24 hours, or £6 for 90 minutes.
RESTAURANTS AND BARS Breakfast was served in the hotel’s Kingsley Two restaurant, at one end of the lobby. The white, high, ceiling arches are among the original features, while the light wooden floor and smart leather chairs add a modern touch. The breakfast buffet runs from 7am-10am (11am on weekends) and includes hot foods such as sausages, bacon and fried eggs on French toast, as well as a selection of fresh fruit, cereals, pastries and juices. Tea, coffee and toast are brought to your table.
International cuisine is served for dinner from 5.30pm-10pm (the restaurant closes for lunch). A private dining area can be formed by separating the room with a heavy brown curtain, and the entire restaurant can be hired for up to 100 people.
At the other end of the lobby is the bar, located within an attractive lounge. In the evening, it’s a low-lit space with a roaring fire, comfy sofas with rich-coloured cushions, as well as several candlelit dining tables. All-day snacks and afternoon tea can be served here, and the contemporary marble bar is open until 1am.
BUSINESS AND MEETING FACILITIES There are seven fresh, unembellished meeting rooms, located on the ground and lower ground floor. The largest space, Albion, can hold 100 delegates theatre-style and has natural light. LCD projectors, projector screens and flipcharts are provided, and wifi is free throughout all the meeting spaces.
LEISURE FACILITIES There is no on-site gym – if guests want a workout and a swim, they can access the Nuffield Health centre (a five-minute walk away) for a discounted price of £5 per day. The property also celebrates its literary heritage (it was once the home of Charles Kingsley and other members of the Bloomsbury Group) by providing a service whereny a book from its in-house library can be delivered to your room.
VERDICT A successful refurbishment and a great location for work or play.
HOW MANY ROOMS? There are 129 rooms and suites.
ROOM HIGHLIGHTS The appealing décor, which creates a homely ambience.
PRICE Internet rates for a flexible midweek stay in December started from £202 for a Deluxe Double room depending on flexibility.
CONTACT The Kingsley, Bloomsbury Way, London; tel +44 (0)871 376 9006; thistle.com/thekingsley