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With all the excitement over the current 30,000-point bonus for the Starwood American Express card – I thought I’d share my review of a recent stay at the W Leicester Square in London.
A couple weeks ago, I took a trip to Scandinavia, but as I mentioned in my review of Lufthansa’s new first class, I actually flew there using 62,500 American miles and $352 for British Airways First Class from Miami to London and spent a night there before continuing on to Copenhagen where I met up with a group of friends.
I am working my way toward 75-night Platinum status with Starwood so I can enjoy the new elite perks such as 4 Starpoints per $1 spent at Starwood and the YOUR24 ability to check in at any time 24 hours a day (I’m already 10 nights closer thanks to my recent Starwood Amex applications!) – so I decided to stay at the W Leicester Square since I just had a single night to enjoy London and wanted both a very central location and to check out a property I hadn’t experienced before.
Because this is a Starwood Category 6 property a free night redemption would have cost 20,000 points or a paid stay of $420. Redeeming my points would have meant just breaking 2 cents a point in value – and I know I can regularly reap a lot more from my Starpoints, so I didn’t want to do that. Cash & Points would have yielded 3.375 cents per point in value – better, but the option wasn’t available for my night (nor was an upgrade) because it was such a busy time before the Games, so I settled for paying the rate instead.
As I mentioned, the hotel was very centrally located near Leicester Square, which I kind of think of as the Times Square of London. Sure it’s quite busy and touristy, but for a short time in the city, it was a great home base. I took the Heathrow Express into the city and then cabbed from Paddington.
The lobby was fairly quiet when I got there, though it was thumping that evening as the lounge-bar got packed with tourists and Brits, and those disco-ball light fixtures got put to full use. I just checked in quickly at one of the mod-futuristic mirrored reception stands, and as usual, the Platinum elite amenity I chose was 500 bonus points.
Take a look at this quick video I made of the lobby as I walked through it:
The hotel has 192 guest rooms and suites including the E WOW Penthouse Suite. No, I didn’t use one of my Platinum confirmed suite upgrades on it! Instead, I just got a Wonderful Room with a King Bed – their standard room. As you’ll see from the video, it was actually pretty small at 280 square feet, but well laid out with an open floor plan, I thought, and it felt a bit bigger thanks to a few mirrored walls. It was also bit brighter than a lot of the other W’s I’ve stayed in (what’s with the gray-on-gray palette they use everywhere?), so I enjoyed my night there.
The room came with a signature W Bed, which I always love, and a gold duvet which I thought was a cool, cheeky touch (as was the “keep your wig on” throw pillow). It also had a small chaise lounge just under the wall-mounted flatscreen television, a small minibar. The screen print on the far wall where the window was was also cool, with two women’s silhouettes, hearkening back to London’s fashion roots.
The most interesting feature was the narrow, white, raised table-workdesk with a leather stool that doubled as the vanity, with a sink and small face mirror built into it that’s right in the room itself next to the bed. Definitely be careful of your electronics if you’re planning on plugging in and doing some work there before grooming yourself on the other side with the standard Bliss products. The WC with the toilet, and a fairly spacious shower with wall-mounted and overhead showerheads also opened right off the main room, so you’d be getting close and personal with whoever else was staying in the room, but since I had it to myself, it suited me just fine.
Though I didn’t have time to experience them, the hotel also has a Jean-Georges Vongerichten restaurant, Spice Market, a small but well equipped gym with great views, and the AWAY Spa with just five rooms. The hotel also apparently has a 39-seat screening room with full bar and catering services available. The hotel also has a popular night club called Wyld, whose signature is a huge mirrored discoball beckoning passing partygoers, and supposedly huge DJ parties on Wednesday nights in particular. Next time!
I thought that the $420 room rate was pretty steep for what I got, but since I waited until nearly the last-minute to book the room, I was just happy to be able to experience this property, and at least worked my way a night closer to those 75-night Platinum benefits I’ve been aiming for so far this year.
A Note on a Good Meal
Instead of dining at the W that night, my friends and I decided to try one of Gordon Ramsay’s restaurant called Petrus, and I have to say that, although England has long been known as a culinary backwater, that image is changing and this restaurant was a great example of why.
It had to be one of the best meals I’ve had in a long time and the service was fantastic- friendly and attentive.
The tasting menu contained courses like pressed foie gras and confit duck with Scqchuan glaze and char-grilled pineapple and cashew nuts, lobster-salmon ravioli with peas and broad beans in a champagne-chive veloute, and fillet of smoked Casterbridge beef with braised celery, almonds and cherry sauce.
The desserts were incredible (and numerous) including a chocolate sphere with milk ice cream and honeycomb. The 75 pounds it cost wasn’t cheap, but it was definitely worth it, and I’d highly recommend it.
These quick photos should give you some idea of the way the evening went – it was a great way to spend my one night in London and though it wasn’t cheap- I’d recommend it for anyone looking for a fine dining experience without the stuffy environment. Even after the introduction of the Chase Sapphire Reserve, the Chase Sapphire Preferred is still a fantastic choice if you want to avoid the Reserve’s $450 annual fee, earn 2x on all travel & dining and earn a 50,000 point sign up bonus.
Even after the introduction of the Chase Sapphire Reserve, the Chase Sapphire Preferred is still a fantastic choice if you want to avoid the Reserve’s $450 annual fee, earn 2x on all travel & dining and earn a 50,000 point sign up bonus.