Hotel check: Wyndham Grand London Chelsea Harbour

What’s it like? Previously known as the Conrad Chelsea Harbour Hotel, this all-suite property was rebranded as the first UK hotel under the Wyndham Hotel Group in 2007. For those unfamiliar with the group, Wyndham operates over 7,000 hotels worldwide under brands including Wyndham Grand, Wingate by Wyndham, Hawthorn Suites by Wyndham, Ramada Worldwide, and Travelodge (not to be confused with the brand of the same name in the UK). There are plans for UK expansion, including the forthcoming Wyndham Cardiff due to open in 2013 (see online news March 24).

The Wyndham Grand London Chelsea Harbour is nearing the completion of a refurbishment programme which has seen four penthouse suites added on the top floor of the hotel (King Suite pictured below – for more information on the penthouse suites click here), along with a revamped reception area, and a new bar and restaurant with outdoor terrace (see Outdoor London, May 2). New spa facilities will also be completed later this year.

The property itself is housed within an eight-storey building located in the Chelsea Harbour development, with the rear of the hotel overlooking the marina. The lobby has an eclectic selection of artwork, with large images of John Lennon and the late rapper Tupac Shakur alongside a large standing sculpture of a green apple, and, when I visited in early June 2010 ahead of the World Cup, a grass-topped table sculpture with footballs of various sizes inside glass vases.

Where is it? Transport to and from Chelsea Harbour has been significantly improved since the  opening of Imperial Wharf railway station in September last year. Located a few minutes’ walk from the hotel, the station provides Overground services north to West Brompton (three minutes) on the District Line, and south to Clapham Junction (four minutes, with two trains per hour at peak times). The new connection also makes the hotel a feasible choice for travellers using Gatwick airport, which has direct rail services to Clapham Junction. 

River taxis, operated by Thames River taxi on behalf of Transport for London, also run from Chelsea Harbour Pier up to Embankment and Blackfriars, with a one-way fare costing £6 (or £4 for those with Oyster Travelcards). Several of these services will suit commuters, with five boats departing Chelsea between 0720 and 0905, taking around half an hour to get to Blackfriars, and three services going in the opposite direction during the early evening. For those driving to the hotel, onsite parking costs £35 for 24 hours.

Room facilities The first thing that struck me was how spacious the suites are, a bonus of not being located in central London. My suite 514 had an entrance hallway with guest toilet off to the right, dressing room to the left and living area straight ahead, which had a balcony with table and chairs overlooking the marina. Lounge facilities included a sofa and two chairs around a glass coffee table, Samsung flatscreen TV, CD player, work desk over by the window, and a long cabinet housing a double-height electronic safe, a minibar, espresso coffee machine and kettle. All guests receive compimentary fresh fruit and mineral water, and as an added bonus the hotel is currently offering all guests a free bottle of wine and a cheese platter as an incentive to join the Wyndham Rewards loyalty scheme.

The bedroom was attached to the lounge, the bathroom and the dressing area (which featured a table and chair in front of a mirror, and cupboard space with iron and ironing board and bathrobes / slippers). There was a king-size bed with huge pillows, another flatscreen TV, and further cupboard space. The bathroom had a separate bath and shower, double basin, and his and hers Monu and Vitru toiletries by Susan Molyneux.

All suites aside from the penthouse options offering basically the same facilities (although some have an open plan layout rather than separate lounge and bedroom), with the difference in price being the choice of Harbour or “Chelsea” view. The former is much more desireable, with relaxing views of the marina, and landmarks including Battersea Power Station, the BT Tower, The Gherkin and London Eye all viewable from higher floors. 

Decor is understated, with a few modern prints on the walls, and while the standard suites have not had a full revamp like the new penthouse suites, everything feels well-built, with solid doors and marble bathroom features.

Restaurants and bars The hotel’s F&B outlets were revamped at the start of this year, and are described as “a new and inventive interpretation of the pop-up restaurant concept”, effectively meaning that while the space itself will remain permanent, the name and concept will change each year. Currently called TwentyTen, the restaurant serves breakfast, lunch and dinner, and has a terrace area overlooking the marina. It’s a lovely setting, although it’s unfortunate that the hotel is situated directly underneath the flight path for London Heathrow, so every few minutes the peace and quiet is interrupted by an aircraft going overhead. Having said that, the noise is probably only so noticeable because of the otherwise near-silent surroundings.

Main courses include the delicious cornish sea bass with clam risotto, slow roasted cherry tomatoes and gordal olive salsa (£20), as well as Welsh rack of lamb with lamb sweet bread, parmentier potatoes, tomato compote and lemon thyme jus (£20), and several steak choices inclduing the 28-day aged eight-ounce Aberdeen Angus beef fillet (£29). 

Speaking to the food and beverage manager, the hotel had previously been well-known for its Sunday brunch offering, and this was reintroduced at the start of May as The Harbour Brunch at Wyndham Grand. At £45 per person it’s not cheap, but no-one can possibly leave hungry or thirsty, with an seemingly endless array of food on offer, plus a welcome glass of champagne. 

The menu changes each week, but visitors can expect full English breakfast with eggs to order, pastries and croissants, cereals, cold meats, prawns, smoked salmon, cheeses, a salad station, roast beef or salmon wellington with all the trimmings, and a dessert table with waffles made to order, homemade ice creams, creme brulees, brownies, profiteroles, trifles, fruit salad and even a chocolate fountain.

There’s also live jazz, and families pay just £1 per child for each year of their age (up to 16 years). Officially the brunch runs from 11.30am-2.30pm, but in practice this is when the jazz finishes and new food stops being laid out – there was no pressure for guests to finish up and leave.

A private dining area is also available in a separate glass-fronted room across from the restaurant.

Business and meeting facilities The top-floor refurbishments have added two new meetings rooms, both of which can accommodate 60 people, and can be opened out to make one larger space. Delegates using these rooms also have access to a new executive lounge on the same floor, as do guests staying in the penthouse suites. For larger events a new Grand Ballroom has been created with a capacity for 600 guests and views out on to the marina. The space is divisible in three, and three adjacent breakout rooms are also available. A second, smaller Drake’s ballroom can accommodate up to 300 people for a reception.

The hotel’s business centre is currently on the same level as the Grand Ballroom – it had previously been located in the lobby area, but this space has been transformed into a luxury watch and jewellery outlet, with two other spaces in the lobby also due to open as concessions in the future.

Wifi internet access is available throughout the hotel, and is free in the public areas (including the bar and restaurant). In the rooms it is charged at £24 per 24-hour period.

Leisure facilities Travellers planning on visiting the hotel this summer should be aware that the leisure facilities are currently closed for refurbishment, with a new spa due to open this autumn and offering eight treatment rooms (including two doubles), a pool, sauna, steam room and gym. While the works are taking place the hotel is offering spa treatments in a converted suite – for a list of treatments and prices click here. A further suite has also been dedicated to becoming a hair, manicure and pedicure salon.

Verdict Spacious suites which are good value when compared to equivalent offerings in central London, and a tranquil location overlooking Chelsea Harbour. The new transport link will help to attract business travellers looking to base themselves in west London, and the brunch menu will appeal to well-heeled leisure visitors.

Fact file

How many suites? 154, or which four are penthouse suites.

Suite highlights The general space and living area, and the balconies overlooking the marina (where applicable).

Price Fully flexible internet rates for a weekday stay in a Chelsea King suite in mid-July started from £250.28

Contact Wyndham Grand London Chelsea Harbour, SW10 0XG; tel +44 (0)207 823 3000; wyndhamgrandlondon.co.uk

Mark Caswell


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