Hotel Review: Sheraton Grand London Park Lane
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To The Point
In a city full of points-hotels, the Sheraton Grand London Park Lane is a big contender. The Pros: great location, spacious rooms, Art Deco details in the lobby and rooms. The Cons: small, slow elevators and a strange bathroom set-up.
The Sheraton Grand London Park Lane is a stunning property, with a centralized location that makes it a great base for exploring this fascinating city. When I learned I’d be heading to London on a recent business trip, I knew I wanted to stay there and get a chance to see what the SPG Category 6 property looked like after its multi-million-dollar renovation.
An SPG Category 6 property celebrating its 90th anniversary in 2016, rates started around 200 British pounds or 20,000 Starpoints per night for a Classic renovated room at the time I was pricing things out and I was able to score a rate of 212 pounds per night ($268 at the time I booked). Since the British pound is lower than usual these days, I decided to pay cash and used the Chase Sapphire Reserve Card to book my two-night stay so I could earn 3x points for the travel purchase.
The Sheraton Grand London Park Lane has a beautiful façade overlooking Piccadilly road, about a five-minute walk from the Green Park tube station. The Ritz London is down the block, while Le Méridien Piccadilly is a bit farther down toward Oxford Circus. The Mayfair area is ideal, too, since it’s close to everything you might want to check out, like theaters, shopping and restaurants in the trendy Soho neighborhood.
The property has two entrances: the main one on Piccadilly and a smaller back entrance on Brick Street. Note that you’ll have to cross the lobby and Palm Court bar/lounge area with your bags to reach the reception area if you use the Piccadilly entrance.
Passing through the lobby was the first opportunity I got to see the renovated decor, which was gorgeous. I found myself swooning over the 1920s glamour of the lobby/bar area. High, arched ceilings and colorful, regal furniture outfitted the space. The bar itself was alluring and I immediately felt as if I’d stepped back in time. I heard soft, relaxing music and soon realized there was a harpist playing as well.
Compared to Sheraton properties I’ve stayed in around the US, this one was clearly much more luxurious. Using all the strength I could muster, I charged forward in search of reception, knowing if I lingered here any longer, I’d end up happily perched in a herringbone armchair, cocktail in hand, quite possibly for the remainder of the day, or perhaps forever.
Once I located the check-in desk, the receptionists were very friendly and professional. I asked for an upgrade and was given a Superior renovated room instead of a Classic renovated room, which was amazing, because it would have cost at least 40 British pounds (~$52) or more per night. The whole process was smooth and easy.
I took the elevator to the second floor, which I found surprisingly slow and small considering the size of this hotel. There was another elevator, but it was up a few stairs and around the corner so I didn’t discover it until the end of the visit. Because the elevators were sluggish and often crowded, I ended up using the stairs most of the time, which was quicker and easier. After weaving through the beautiful hallways, complete with vintage photographs, mirrors and chandeliers, I made it to Room 214. I normally hate carpeted hallways — they just don’t flow with rolling suitcases — but these were nicely done, fitting with the whole 1920s vibe of the hotel.
The hotel calls all the Superior rooms “suites,” as they come with an armchair and a small table. Although there’s not technically a separate “living” area, these rooms are more spacious (between 25 and 30 square meters, as opposed to 20 to 25 square meters for a Classic room), and it’s nice to have a small space to sit and relax that’s not the bed or the desk.
The first thing I noticed about the room is the “wow” factor. The Art Deco style is done perfectly.
A large circular ceiling light shines over the bed, and small details around the room made me feel as if I’d slipped into the Great Gatsby era: small dalmatian dog statues, a wire sculpture of a flapper and fashion magazines like Grazia gracing the tabletop.
In addition to the lovely decor, the room is also functional, with a very comfortable king-size bed, a desk with plenty of outlets (including USB chargers and an electric socket for a European plug), a safe, an iron, one free bottle of drinking water and tea- and coffee-making facilities.
Despite the large windows covering one wall, not much natural light entered the room, as the view overlooked another building. London’s gray skies didn’t help matters either.
However, the lighting system, once I figured out the switches, was perfect, as I was able to brighten up the room or dim the lights for a more relaxing feel. Hotels often tend to be quite dark, but this room was bright enough for me, thanks to a lot of solid lighting.
The room also came with bathrobes, slippers, a hair dryer, an alarm clock with two USB chargers and a wall-mounted 32-inch HD TV with in-room movies and more than 40 channels. There was a small mini-fridge with all of the usual drinks offered at expensive prices. Starwood Preferred Guest members get free Wi-Fi as well.
All 303 rooms at the Sheraton Grand London Park Lane come with an interesting new perk, the “Handy” travel companion. The device — it’s essentially a smartphone — offers guests complimentary Wi-Fi and calls to all local numbers, plus five select international countries. The best part is you can take them around the city with you, which is perfect for travelers who don’t want to pay expensive roaming charges for using their own phones abroad.
The bathrooms still feature the original marble that dates back to the 1920s. While that part of the bathroom was beautiful, this is where I felt things got a bit strange — there was just one sink with a huge countertop. While I appreciated having the extra space to store my toiletries, there could have easily been another sink put in and so there would be two while still having enough counter space. There was also a special plug for the shaver, but not one for the hair dryer, which I found bothersome.
The rainfall shower was strong and hot, but strangely placed as an open-style shower next to the bathtub. There were two shower options: the rainfall at the top, plus a spout you could take off and reattach.
The water also smelled strongly of chlorine. While the bathroom was functional, I just didn’t love the layout.
The bath amenities were by the Shine for Sheraton brand and featured a mandarin and mint scent. While they smelled fine, I was surprised that such a luxurious property wouldn’t have something slighter higher end, like, say, Cowshed or L’Occitane shower products.
The first place that caught my eye on the website even before my trip was the hotel’s “Detective” bar, Smith & Whistle — I actually did a double take when I was scanning the website to make sure I’d read that correctly. Turns out the bar is based on the fictional Detective Smith and his hunt for criminal Mr. Whistle. Visions of Sherlock Holmes, top hats and magnifying glasses danced in my head as I wondered what a real detective bar would be like — and the verdict is, it feels just like any other bar.
The decor was unique, with leather couches, dim lighting and fancy wallpaper, but the crowd seemed a bit uptight — several people had tuxedos on (on a Thursday evening). I would have much preferred something a bit trendier and more casual, maybe in London’s Shoreditch neighborhood, instead.
A friend and I sampled some drinks from the cocktail menu: the Gingerbread Daiquiri and the Snowman, which was made of gin, cacao and cream — unfortunately, they were both a bit lackluster. Instead of having a cocktail here, leave those detective dreams at the door and indulge in a well-prepared G&T or glass of wine in The Palm Court, the Art Deco–style bar in the lobby I fell in love with immediately upon entering the hotel. Relaxing in a comfy chair to the sounds of live harp music while sipping some fine wine sure beats a stuffy Gingerbread Daiquiri any day.
If you plan to order breakfast, know that prices range from 19 to 25 British pounds (~$25 to $33). Instead, I discovered some one-of-a-kind coffee shops in Soho, like Milkbar, where my delectable avocado toast with eggs and cappuccino were about a quarter of that price. I also enjoyed a lovely salmon bagel and coffee at the Nordic Bakery another morning for much less. There are also some Caffé Nero shops less than a block from the hotel if you need something closer but don’t feel like paying $30 for breakfast at the hotel.
The hotel also has an Italian restaurant, Mercante, and the menu looked very nice. The decor was also beautiful, but I didn’t get a chance to try it out this time around. I did, however, order room service, and my food was fairly good, though overpriced, as one can typically expect when it comes to room service. I sampled the steak with béarnaise sauce, market vegetables and french fries, plus a sticky toffee pudding with ice cream for dessert. The steak was flavorful and the veggies were fresh and I particularly enjoyed the sticky toffee pudding, an English specialty.
Of course, I had to pay a brief visit to the gym to repent for my toffee pudding, and was pleasantly surprised at its size. The gym was enormous and very well-equipped with machines, weights and other fitness extras like mats and balls, as well as towels and water. The gym was completely empty when I was there, so I had the whole space to myself.
There is also a ballroom for meetings and events, featuring London’s only in-house kosher kitchen. As there were private events going on, I wasn’t able to access this space during my visit.
I would definitely stay at this hotel again. The room was beautiful, and even though I didn’t love the bathroom, its location makes this hotel the perfect base for exploring London. The value is great for what you get, considering hotel rooms in this town are often small and expensive. I’d also return to have drinks with friends at The Palm Court lobby bar even if I wasn’t staying here.
Have you stayed at the Sheraton Grand London Park Lane before? Tell us about your experience, below.
All photos by the author.
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