01. Introduction: Business class battle royale – British Airways vs. Virgin Atlantic
02. British Airways 747-400 Club World (business class) San Diego to London (LHR)
03. Park Plaza Westminster Bridge, London
04. Hilton London Heathrow Airport, Terminal 4
05. The 3 things that I love most about London
06. Virgin Atlantic Club House, LHR
07. Virgin Atlantic A340-600 Upper Class (business class) London (LHR) to New York (JFK)
08. InterContinental New York Barclay
09. jetBlue A321 Mint (business class) New York (JFK) to Los Angeles
10. Delta Connection CRJ-900 economy class Los Angeles to San Diego
Choosing a hotel is something that always gives me heartburn and a bit of anxiety – especially in big cities such as London! It all comes down to the fact that there are far too many choices, and I’m always second-guessing the decisions I make. Am I overpaying? Is the location ok? Is it going to be too noisy? What about room service? These are just a few of the questions that always swim around in my head as my cursor nervously hovers over the “book now” button on hotels.com.
But just as it always seems to happen, the decision to stay at the Park Plaza in Westminster ended up being a fine choice. I can’t really say that I’ve ever made a bad hotel decision yet, so I guess I’m doing something right (even if it doesn’t really feel like it).
The reason for choosing the Park Plaza came down to the fact that it was just a hop and a skip away from the Westminster Bridge and the Parliament building. I’ve been to London before – and I remembered that area to be quite nice, so I figured that I couldn’t go wrong by staying here. Never mind that my last visit to London was 19 years ago, and a lot can happen in that amount of time…
To get to this hotel, I took the Underground from directly from London’s Heathrow Airport (LHR). It was about a 50 minute ride to the Westminster station, but once I emerged from the train and stepped out onto the sidewalk I felt like I had made an excellent decision to stay at the Park Plaza. Big Ben was directly in front of me right across the street, and I could even see the hotel in the distance across the bridge. How perfect is that?
This was my first stay at a Park Plaza property, and immediately after stepping through the doors I knew I was in for a treat. The lobby was large and grand, and I really liked the dark mood lighting – dark hotels have never really been my thing but this seemed to work for some reason.
After checking in at the front desk, all I could think about was the possibility of having a room with a nice view of Big Ben and the Parliament Building. This hotel faces those landmarks directly, and I had pretty high hopes that this might be the best view from a hotel room that I’ve ever had. It’s dangerous to inflate hopes up that high…
The air was definitely let out of my tires once I entered the room. While it was a decent size room with nice finishes and design touches, there was no view to be had. At all. The windows overlooked the interior atrium of the hotel with no peek to the outside world at all. Total bummer!
As you can see, this room was quite nice – but very dark and dreary. I didn’t mind the darkness so much at first but by the end of my stay I was very much looking forward to leaving. It was so dark that it became difficult to tell what the weather was like outside, or even what time of day it was. That was very disorientating, and highly annoying as well.
Food options in the Park Plaza Westminster were decent. I ate in one of the on-site restaurants (Brasserie Joël) the first night, and I found the portions to be much too small for the price. I walked away still feeling hungry after spending nearly $50(US) which didn’t really sit well with me.
I did take a chance on ordering room service for breakfast the next morning though, and I paid $20(US) for the full English Breakfast which ended up being too much to eat.
I had lunch outside the hotel that day, but for dinner I opted for room service again. That meal was good – though a bit light on portion size as well.
In conclusion, I’m not really sure what my feelings are on the Park Plaza Westminster Bridge hotel. Overall it was very nice, but the dark room really killed the experience for me. I was more than happy to check out and leave when the time came. But I have a strong suspicion that I would have enjoyed my stay immensely if I had a room with a view to the outside world – especially if that view was looking straight at the Parliament Building off in the distance.