Sunday, 8 December 2013

London Baby!

I have an awesome wife who has and awesome hobby: Comping. Comping is the hobby of entering competitions, lots of competitions, and the rewards can range from the fantastic to the bizarre, but on the whole it brings some great opportunities.  This year alone we have been on lots of free days out, been able to try some tasty artisan foods as part of a prize, had our first family holiday in Cornwall, and most recently had a night in our capital city London. All of which is thanks to my Wife spending hours of her free time, finding and entering competitions.

Last August my wife got a WEM (Winning E-Mail) saying she had won a £200 voucher to spend at Vince Camuto, a boutique shoe, handbag, and jewelery store in High Street Kensington, and with it, a 5 star hotel stay! Ange had to contact the PR company that was organising the prize trip for us to arrange when we would like to go and where we would like to stay. We chose Ange's birthday weekend in November. As for the location we had no idea, we had never been to London. The PR company chose the St Martins Lane Hotel in the heart of London's west end! I have to say the Hotel was very swanky

This is the outside of the hotel, it doesn't look much but..

Picture courtesy of www.e-architect.co.uk

This is what greets you in the lobby

Picture courtesy of  bookcdn.com.


Being in London for the first time it was hard to know what to expect, but the hotel reception staff were very friendly and check in was quick and easy, and within 10 minutes of arriving we were up in our room exploring, which admittedly didn't take long to do as the room was quite small, but being a city centre hotel isn't surprising in the standard rooms, but while small, it was still comfortable.

This was our room...

Entrance hall on the right, Bathroom on the left.

A nice little desk...

TV unit and minibar.

We arrived at the hotel around four in the afternoon after driving 200 miles from our hometown, this is the first time I have ever driven to London, and I must admit I was nervous about driving into the heart of one of the busiest cities in Europe traffic wise backed up only by a 5 year old satnav that hasn't seen a map update since its manufacture, but to be honest I was surprised at how accurate the mapping still was.  The hotel is situated in the heart of the theatre district of London's West End, and as such finding parking was cause for concern for me as I drive a company vehicle with a rotating vent on top and I was aware of the height restrictions in the car parks. after some research and some tinkering with my van, I chose the car park that was situated beneath the hotel. on arrival there i was guided in by an attendant who couldn't be more polite and helpful, and the van made it into the car park with millimetres to spare!

After checking in and stowing our stuff we were straight into the heart of the city exploring, we just picked a direction and off we went, which brought us to Covent Garden Christmas markets, we saw one or two street performers but didn't really stay long to watch as we were ever conscious of time and wanted to see as much as possible. We wandered through Covent garden and the surrounding areas, passed the Lyceum and several other old theatres, took in some of the sights as we wandered a little aimlessly, then Hunger finally got the better for us and we found a place to eat. Now I would love to say we were really adventurous and went to some swanky restaurant and had an amazing meal of something we had never tried before but, alas we didn't, we found a TGI Fridays, one of our favourite places to eat if we ever have the chance and ate there.  I had a steak which as always was very tasty and Ange had the a selection for the Tapas menu, which while it was tasty enough, she was a little disappointed with it.

After our meal we wandered back to the hotel to relax and enjoy our first night alone in months, we got to our room, got washed and ready for bed and promptly became vegetables in front of the TV until we both fell asleep. (How rock and roll are we eh?)

I would love to say that we both woke up in the morning refreshed and rested after an undisturbed nights sleep for the first time in months, but that would be a lie. It seems that in an effort to cram an extra room on each floor the hotel sacrificed any form of thickness or sound proofing in the walls.  At 4am we were rudely awakened by the adjacent room arriving back from a night out in the city and were very noisy while draining their minibar dry and ordering room service.  For the next two hours we were kept awake by next door and their friends partying and then we could hear them using the toilet every ten minutes. Needless to say this kind of took the shine off our stay, and by and large the management of the hotel were useless as they tried to compensate us for being disturbed by offering us a complimentary breakfast, a breakfast which had already been paid for by the PR company that arranged the hotel. We were too tired to argue about it to be honest and we had a lot of places we wanted to see before we had to leave and get back to our baby girl so we were not about to waste what little time we had. 

I do have to mention the breakfast at the hotel restaurant, I have had lots of cooked English breakfasts in different places, but I have never had one that looked or tasted like this! Delicious!

My Full English Breakfast

Ange's Poached Eggs With Salmon


Our adventure in the city continued with a short walk to Trafalgar Square, then on to Buckingham Palace where we luck would have it we were able to see the changing of the guard.  The changing of the guard is quite a sight to see but it gets very crowded even the middle of November and its a very long procedure, about an hour in we decided that we were going to carry on with our flash sight seeing tour and try and see some more of London before we had to get to High Street Kensington so Ange could go and spend her £200 voucher at Vince Camuto.

On the drive to Kensington we decided to take a drive past Big Ben and the houses of parliament, the architecture of London is a massive mixture of different styles from Georgian to late Victorian to the contemporary styles of modern new buildings. Its so strange to see so many different era mashed in to one city and sometime one street but somehow it all fits.

Ange at the fountains in Trafalgar Square

A Big Blue Cock(rell) on the fourth Plinth


Ange. RAWR!

Me At The Foot Of Nelsons Column

Buckingham Gate

St James Park

Buckingham Palace and the Queen Victoria Statue

Palace Gates

These Guys


Those guys.
Topiary Rudolph at Covent Garden
Covent Garden Christmas Tree

The Bag and Purse from Vice Camuto (Along with some other stuff)
Angela has her own YouTube channel +WonderlandFreebies showcasing her wins and her Blog is at Adventures In WebsterLand

All in all despite the poor nights sleep we had a fantastic weekend away in our capital city, both Myself and Ange are itching to go back.

That's all for now folks

Chris.