A September 2005 trip
to London by SFPhotocraft
Quote: The 2005 IgoUgo guide get-together was held in London. This was a chance for the North American guides to mix it up with our friends across the pond. IgoUgo had taken care of all the details, so all we had to do was partake and enjoy!
Hotel | "Kensington Hilton"
I actually had stayed here before--my sister was a flight attendant for TWA, and this was the hotel they laid over at while in London. Even today, this is a popular choice for airline crews. It's that kind of generic hotel airline crews love. You wake up, and by the room, you can't tell if you are in London, Tokyo, or maybe Des Moines?
The location is between Holland Park and Sheperd's Bush. The immediate area is rather uninteresting, and there is not a lot here. You can walk to several restaurants several blocks away. There are two tube stations and a bus stop nearby. I did take cabs several times this weekend, and I quickly found that any money I saved on the room rate, I quickly spent on cab fare. I was pennywise but pound foolish.
The lobby has been redone, and it seems light and bright. The have a nice business center and computers in one of the lounges. The public areas were pleasing. My room was tiny. No, I know a lot of rooms in Europe are small, but this room was really small. The TV had to be hung from the ceiling, as there was no room anywhere else in the room to place it.
The first room I got was on the 2nd floor and the roof was right at my window level. I felt uncomfortable as anyone on the roof could enter my room. It important to let a hotel or restaurant know about your dissatisfaction and allow them to correct a problem. So, I called down to change rooms and the woman at the desk told me theyright were full and hung up the phone. I called back to check what an upgrade to the executive floor would cost and a young man answered. He was happy to help and told me they had plenty of rooms on other floors and gave me a room on the floor above. The room was just as tiny, but at least this room did not have access from the roof. What made me angry was that the first desk clerk was so unwilling to help. I found this through out my stay, some employees were very helpful and others could have cared less and some were even a bit rude.
I would only stay here again if I was required to stay near Holland Park or Shepard's Bush. However it's a bad choice for anyone wanting to explore all the popular sights in London.
Member Rating 2 out of 5 on October 5, 2005
179-199 Holland Park Avenue
+44 (207) 603-3355
The Clarence has sat for years between Parliament and Trafalgar Square and near Scotland Yard. It always has an interesting mix of clientele, you will be rubbing elbows with fellow tourists, local office workers and government workers, maybe even a member of Parliament or two!
This is a typical English pub, and in 2004, it won the Pub of Year award for all of London. It's a large building with a some wonderful graphics on the outside. In the summer large pots of fresh flowers adorn the building. There are a few table on the street outside and there are those marvelous chalk board signs that boast the house's fish and chips with mushy peas or a Ploughman's lunch. Inside it's dark and full of dark wood. It looks exactly how you imagine your pub should look. The pub is complete with dart board and a variety of ales and beers on tap. On the wall is a large board telling the guests which sausages and meat pies are featured this day.
You find a table, then head up to the bar and order. I find the staff here to be very friendly and helpful. I had fish and chips with garden peas (no mushy peas for this cowboy). They came quickly and the waitress who brought them was full of charm and personality. The fish and chips were outstanding, some of the best I have ever had. I washed the fish down with a proper pint and I felt like I was truly in the U.K..
One thing that I did see here that I thought was brilliant was a table in the pub for a free book exchange. When you are finished with your latest novel, you leave it on the table for the next customer. You can pick up another book and leave it here or another pub when you finish that one. It seems like a great idea and I understand many of the London pubs are in on this book exchange. I would love to see the idea spread to the U.S..
So if you are confused as to which London pub to pick, don't even think about it, head straight for The Clarence. The Clarence never disappoints. It's the real thing, and it's one of the very best London has to offer.
Don't be confused. In doing my research, I learned there are several pubs called The Clarence around London and one called the Duke of Clarence. This Clarence is the one in Whitehall near Trafalgar Square.
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on September 17, 2005
London, England SW1Y 4AA