Hotel check: Thistle Kensington Gardens

What’s it like? Having just completed a substantial renovation, the Thistle is an excellent choice for those wanting a Central London Hotel with a view of Hyde Park (the Kensington Gardens end of it) without paying Park Lane prices. The new design is attractive on the eye, functional and makes the best use of space not only in the public areas but also in the rooms, with their flatscreen TVs and modern bathrooms.

The hotel is accessed from Porchester Terrace next to a Shell Petrol Station (with a Waitrose supermarket in it), with the reception on the first floor and the rooms on the floors above. As with other Thistle hotels I have stayed in (for reviews, click here), the staff are all excellent, from my check-in very late at night after a work function, to check out the next morning (the first time I have received a Crunchie chocolate bar on departure from a hotel). Parking is available (62 spaces) at an extra charge.

Where is it? On Bayswater Road, overlooking Kensington Gardens. It is only a few minutes walk from Lancaster Gate tube stations (Central Line), close to Paddington Station for the Heathrow Express, and the Park is a draw throughout the year for early morning runs or long leisurely walks.

Room facilities the 175 rooms come in several different categories, with all deluxe, executive bedrooms and suites overlooking Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens. Obviously the higher up you are on this side the better the views, but the hotels lifts (elevators) are extremely slow at the best of times, and almost useless when guests are trying to get down to breakfast in the morning for instance, so I’d go for a room on the fourth floor and use the stairs to save frustration.

The window in my room did not shut properly which meant the road noise outside was more noticeable than normal, so I reported this on check-out. Otherwise my stay was quiet and the bed comfortable, if a little firm. All the public areas and bedrooms have wifi access payable through BT Openzone.

Restaurants and bar On the first floor the bar is a relaxed area, dimly but atmospherically lit and a big beneficiary from the refurbishments. The brasserie serves evening meals as well as breakfast. I had breakfast which, as with other Thistles, was excellent, filling and with a wide choice of hot and cold options.

Business and meeting facilities There are three meeting rooms, with the largest seating 45 people theatre-style.

Leisure facilities None, but I went for a run in the park in the morning.

Verdict this is a little gem of a hotel, with great prices for London, good friendly service and with Thistle soon introducing a loyalty programme, one I’d recommend for regular travellers to London who want some comfort and near-luxury without paying over the odds for it.

Fact file

Number of rooms 175 rooms, from the entry-level Deluxe up to Junior Suites.

Room highlights if you choose one (and you should) the view over Kensington Gardens.

Price Flexible internet rates for a midweek stay in a double room started from £132 per room.

Contact Thistle Kensington Gardens, 104 Bayswater Road, London W2 3HL; tel +44 (0)871 376 9024 / +44 845 305 8324; thistle.com

Tom Otley



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