Monday, 23 January 2017

Winter Staycation: An Anniversary Weekend at Hilton Bankside

Have you ever wanted to book a stay in a luxury hotel just to stay in the hotel? That's exactly what we did. When you go on holiday, there are always too many things to do and see, that the hotel can often become your base rather than a real part of the holiday. But booking a trip to a hotel 20 minutes down the road because you spotted a great New Year deal, and because it's your 3 (and a half) year anniversary, is the perfect opportunity to truly indulge in the luxury and make the most of your stay. 

The Hilton Bankside is in a fantastic location: a stone's throw away from London Bridge, Shakespeare's Globe, and almost in viewing distance of St. Paul's Cathedral, you find yourself in a modern, relaxing hotel, hidden from the hustle and bustle, right in the centre of London. Used to slightly more budget hotels, the impeccable level of service at the Hilton was a little intimidating initially, but we very quickly learned to embrace it! We had booked an Executive King room, which was spacious and elegant without being over the top. The dark interior and mood lighting in the bedroom against the clean and bright feel of the bathroom gave a real feel of modern, classy opulence. I was so happy to have a big bath in the bathroom too! The views weren't anything to write home about, but the area was quiet and we weren't disturbed at any point during our stay. 

Booking an Executive room comes with extra luxuries, like complimentary soft drinks and snacks from the mini bar and access to the Executive Lounge. The Lounge offered complimentary afternoon tea, and then canapes and alcoholic drinks in the early evening. We were able to enjoy breakfast in here as well, free from the sometimes slightly manic feel of a buffet breakfast in hotel dining rooms. The Lounge presented a really peaceful space, with just the right level of atmosphere, perfect for a pre-dinner drink or a comfy chair to relax with a book. 

As fantastic as the in-house restaurant looked, OXBO, we decided to venture out for dinner. The hotel is surrounded by a huge choice of restaurants, so we were spoilt for choice. Despite living in London, it felt like a bit of a novelty to be dressed up and wandering along the river on a Saturday evening, listening to the buskers and anticipating an evening of Greek food! Full of feta and baklava, the hotel dressing gowns were calling our names and we headed back to our room. I was ready to enjoy a nice, made infinitely more exciting by the knowledge I wouldn't have to clean it after, before hopping into bed with a cup of tea and a film. The only complaint we had with the hotel was the room temperature. We enjoy a sleep in fairly arctic temperatures, and the inability to turn the temperature down below 18°c as well as a very thick duvet, left us too hot. As a result, we didn't have the best night's sleep but woke ready to enjoy some breakfast. 

The breakfast was fantastic. There was an enormous selection of continental options - from meats and smoked salmon to plenty of pastries to porridge and fruit with every topping you could want! There was also a buffet serving toast, sausages, bacon and eggs, and an option to have any other hot options cooked for you (omlettes, pancakes etc). Full to the brim from a three course breakfast, one too many pastries, and delicious juice and coffee, we headed to pack up our things and check out. Unfortunately we didn't have a chance to use the pool area, but we took a quick peek and it looked really nice though quite busy. Not quite ready to head home, we spent the rest of the morning at the Tate Modern, soaking up some culture only a couple of minute's walk from the hotel. 

All in all it was a fabulous stay, and we had a great time. Despite the quite generous check-in/out times (3pm check-in, 12pm check-out) we wished we'd had more time in the hotel to really make the most of all the facilities. The service was absolutely wonderful, and we were treated incredibly well throughout our stay. A local hotel stay removes all the stress from going away: you know where you're going, you don't feel obliged to go out and can really enjoy the hotel itself, and it's only a short journey home the next day. We're already thinking about where we can go for our 4 (and a half) year anniversary next January, and how we can bring the perfection of a hotel breakfast to our weekend breakfasts at home! 

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