As I’d paid for mine & mum’s India flights with Flying Club Points, I was restricted on dates for when we could home. This meant that we were flying home on Valentine’s Day which didn’t exactly go down well with the other half. As a compromise, I suggested that he should come down to London for a few days for Valentine’s and our anniversary, which is a few days after.
Me & mum landed around 1800 on Valentine’s Day so stayed overnight at Heathrow. The next day, I popped mum on a train back north and the other half came down to London to meet me. It was all a bit of a mad rush as we missed a train from Heathrow in to London and mum caught her train with about 90 seconds to spare!
Using my travel agent discount, I managed to snaffle a room at the Park Plaza Riverbank for 50% off. The hotel is in a great location, just across the river from the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben and less than 10 minutes’ walk from the London Eye. This was a great end of town to stay as I’d booked us tickets up The Shard, which is something we did on our honeymoon before we flew to Lapland.
As can often happen when travelling on a discounted rate, we didn’t necessarily get the best room in the hotel, but it was plenty comfortable for the 2-night stay. The shower cubicle was pretty small, but it was separate to the bath, not that we used the bath. The issue was the ineffective air conditioning which, despite it being February and about 3 degrees outside, the room was boiling hot. I dread to think what it’d be like in summer!
Following on from the success of the Club Lounge at the Crowne Plaza in India, I suggested that we upgrade to lounge access at the Park Plaza too. The lounge is on the 12th floor of the hotel and has fantastic views, day and night, of the river, Houses of Parliament, Big Ben and the London Eye.
For £25.00 per person per night, you can access the lounge which only seats 66 people so is nice and quiet. They serve breakfast, an afternoon tea, evening canapés and free drinks between 1800 and 2000.
On our first night, we were in lounge for spot on 1800 and started tucking in to the free wine and food. There was a very good selection of hot and cold options, the tomato and olive pasta and BBQ chicken we both excellent, as were the smoked salmon canapés.
Drinks were a bit more readily available than at the Crowne Plaza a few days before, with a choice of white, red and rose wine as well as vodka, gin, whisky and mixers all self-service. Considering that a small glass of wine was £7.00 in the hotel bar, you can see how the lounge supplement is excellent value for money.
After some drinks and canapés, we went down to eat in the hotel’s Chino Latino restaurant. As it was Thursday, we used our Tastecard to save 50% and because we’d already had canapes in the lounge, we didn’t need a starter! The food was excellent, I had beef rib which just fell off the bone and was melt in the mouth. The other half had a Thai red curry which he said was delicious. For dessert, I had a sugar and gluten free cheesecake which was awesome but very stodgy and filling.
Breakfast is included in the lounge, although there is a more limited choice than in the main restaurant, there’s still plentiful choice on the buffet with additional items to order. I loved the smoked salmon and mackerel, bacon, sausage and scrambled eggs. They also had rhubarb juice that I’d first tried in the lounge at Manchester Airport before we flew to Japan, which I was pleased about!
Although the Park Plaza does serve afternoon snacks in the lounge, we had afternoon tea at the Doubletree by Hilton Westminster after we went up the Shard, so I can’t comment on their afternoon offering. The Doubletree, however, was amazing! We also took the opportunity to buy a tin of Doubletree cookies to take home with us!
After being dragged down Oxford Street for what felt like a thousand years, we went back to the hotel to chill and freshen up for dinner. I wanted to be in the lounge again for 1800 on the dot! The drink selection was the same as the night before, but the snacks were different, with chicken glass noodles exactly like some we’d had in Thailand as well as another pasta dish.
We couldn’t be bothered to go out anywhere for dinner so ate in the Chino Latino bar, which has an almost identical menu to the restaurant. I was very hungry so ordered a Caesar salad which turned out to be massive! The other half had a blue cheese beef burger, which looked really tasty.
The breakfast was different on the second morning, which was good to see as many hotels just roll out the same stuff every day. I mean, who doesn’t love a smoked salmon and cream cheese croissant?!
After 2 excellent lounge experiences in the same week, I’ll definitely pay the upgrade charge in future. Considering that a hotel will charge you at least £10.00 for breakfast, £7.00 for a starter at dinner and £7.00 for a glass of wine, you can see how we saved money! You could easily just eat from the evening buffet too, skipping dinner and saving even more money!
Can you tell I’m from Yorkshire?!
Date of trip: February
Price paid: £75.00 per night Room Only + £50.00 per night Executive Lounge supplement.
Points earned: 500 Virgin Flying Club points for paying with my Virgin Atlantic Black American Express card.