What’s it like?
This 14-storey new-build overlooking the River Thames is the ninth Crowne Plaza property in the London area, including the recently opened Crowne Plaza London Heathrow T4 which we reviewed late last year.
The hotel is no doubt hoping to take advantage of corporate opportunities presented by government accounts (Parliament is situated less than a mile away on the other side of the river, via Lambeth Bridge), the NHS (specifically St Thomas’s Hospital at Waterloo), and the US Embassy (located around a mile south along the river).
The Crowne Plaza London – Albert Embankment is one of the new breed of Crowne Plaza properties (for another example see my review of the Crowne Plaza Newcastle Stephenson Quarter).
Guests enter into a smallish lobby area, with an impressive central chandelier made of twisted blown glass – when I arrived at around 1700 on a Friday evening there was no queue for check-in, and three members of staff on the desk ready to help.
POTUS restaurant and bar is left of the lobby area, and the separate lift up to Mezemiso off to the right – more on both of these later.
Where is it?
As the name would suggest, the hotel is located on Albert Embankment, between Vauxhall and Lambeth bridges (closer to the latter).
The property is next to the established Park Plaza Riverbank, which has a larger corporate offering with 24 meetings spaces including a ballroom which can accommodate up to 650 people.
As an illustration of the regeneration of the area, just past the Park Plaza hotel is The Corniche – a new residential complex designed by Foster and Partners, where apartment prices start at around £2 million.
In front of the hotel and moored to the riverbank is The Tamesis Dock, a converted 1930s Dutch barge which now serves as a bar, live music and events space.
There are a total of 142 rooms, split across King rooms (with or without river views), Club Rooms, junior suites, and three one-bedroom suites.
Entry level King Standard rooms (measuring from 21.5 sqm) feature king-size beds, Nespresso coffee machines, smart TVs, free wifi, and plenty of power sockets with USB ports. River View rooms look out across the Thames to the 118-metre high, grade II listed Millbank Tower, which over the years has been home to various political parties due to its Westminster location. It now houses various events venues under the Altitude London brand.
To the right of Millbank Tower is Thames House, home to the headquarters of MI5, and past this Lambeth bridge and the Houses of Parliament can also be seen.
I was staying in a King Club room (25 sqm), which featured a separate walk-in shower and bathtub, as well as a Toto toilet with a myriad of features, none of which I used, although my wife was particularly taken by the heated toilet seat.
Club rooms and above also benefit from turndown service.
Our room also had a balcony, although I was told at check-in that the door to it would be locked, and that we would need to ask security for it to be unlocked if we wanted to access the space. Given that it was a cold, dreary weekend in January, I didn’t bother.
Club guests also have access to the smart Club Lounge, which offers complimentary buffet breakfast, refreshments throughout the day, and complimentary alcoholic drinks and canapes between 1700 and 1900.
The lounge is situated on the basement level, which is a shame given the hotel’s location overlooking the River Thames – guests will have to make do being entertained by the various caricatures of political figures on the walls, and the board games provided on the book shelves.
Restaurants and bars
The hotel’s main restaurant is called POTUS, a nod to the nearby US Embassy, and is located on the ground floor next to reception, offering breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Soft lighting, along with dark wood flooring, black upholstered chairs and black and white photo frames of political figures give the restaurant an intimate feel – there is also an oval shaped bar area around which guests can sit, separated from the main dining area by a glass-walled fireplace.
The menu is very much meat and seafood based – indeed there was only one vegetarian choice for both the starter and main course, neither of which were suitable for my wife who is vegan. That said, the chef was happy to rustle up two vegan dishes, both of which were enjoyed.
I opted for a delicious fried soft shell crab starter (£16), followed by a 12 ounce USDA NY striploin steak (£48), served with baby turnips and avocado hummus. The steak was perfectly cooked to medium, and melted in the mouth, but I thought the accompaniments were a little on the bland side, and wished I had ordered (or indeed been advised to order) some sort of potato side to go with it.
The four desserts (all £9) of New York baked cheesecake, pecan brownie, hazelnut spiced chocolate tart and Bananas Foster all sounded fantastic, so I asked the waiter to decided for me, and was delighted with the last of these – sweet and indulgent with just the right amount of rum, and a cooling coconut ice cream to help it down.
Breakfast is also served at POTUS, with a good choice of buffet and a la carte options.
There is also a rooftop bar and restaurant Mezemiso, which was soft-launching when I visited in mid-January. Described as offering Japanese food with a Lebanese flair, the space is accessed by a glass-walled lift running up the side of the hotel.
Mezemiso is open for lunch and dinner, and has an outdoor terrace overlooking the river, with heaters underneath the tables and a cigar and shisha menu.
I didn’t have a chance to eat at Mezemiso, bu the full menu can be viewed here, with choices split into “From Lebanon” and “From Japan”.
There are two meeting rooms – a boardroom with a fixed table accommodating up to 13 guests, and a larger room which can be divided into two spaces and which can accommodate up to 50 guests theatre style. The far end of the club lounge can also be partitioned off for smaller meetings.
There is a gym in the basement, which is open 24 hours and has a wide variety of Technogym equipment.
A great new addition to an area of London which still has few hotels (aside from the Park Plaza Riverbank, the only other major hotel on the Albert Embankment stretch is the Staybridge Suites London Vauxhall, another IHG property).
Best for Being within walking distance of Parliament, while still benefiting from a riverside location
Don’t miss The views from of the River Thames and Parliament from Mezemiso’s rooftop terrace
Contact Crowne Plaza London – Albert Embankment, 10-11 Albert Embankment, London SE1 7SP; +44 (0)207 146 0370; ihg.com