I have always had 5* lifestyle ambitions, just on a 3* budget! So imagine how excited I was when the Royal Garden Hotel in Kensington, London invited Dexter and I to stay with them a couple of weeks ago to try out the new ‘Flicks & Food’ service. More about exactly what this is later.
We headed up on Monday afternoon by train from Kent to London and we have learnt from visiting other London hotels not to be put off by the exterior of hotels. It’s a little … ‘70’s concrete’, but as soon as you walk up the steps to the front entrance, you are met by a friendly door man who takes your luggage and opens the door for you. I love little touches like this, they really make you feel special.
The reception area is grand, full of marble floors and opulent chandeliers, and the staff were extremely professional, friendly and very knowledgeable. We took time to chat to the concierge about what the local area had to offer families and he got a map out to show us where we could go, what we could do and even told us we could hire scooters from the hotel to ride around Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens, which is what the hotel backs onto. I thought that was a great touch, especially for younger children.
We were escorted up to our room, which was on the top floor, and our executive room/suite had the most stunning view looking directly onto Kensington Palace and gardens. I could’ve looked at the view for hours, which was slightly unfortunate because Dexter just wanted to get stuck into all the movies that were on offer, so he quickly closed the curtains before I had chance to appreciate the view fully. Kids eh!
The room is really spacious, I had a huge double bed and Dexter was due to sleep on the sofa bed. A member of staff arrived at around 7.30pm to make his bed up for me (so I didn’t have to do it!), but before that, I thought it would be a good idea to get Dexter settled so I could pop out to buy a few bits and pieces for a late lunch. Kensington is a really lovely area, with lots of upmarket shops and restaurants to visit, but I settled for good old Marks & Spencer.
I think Dexter managed to fit around four films in whilst we were there – all extremely loud and action packed films, so I have made the suggestion to the hotel that investing in wireless headphones for parents would be a good idea! I watched Batman with him but was quite happy not to watch GI Joe! Dexter was in heaven though and if you’re anything like me, if your child is happy, you’re happy. Plus I had wifi and some work to catch up on!
We were curious about what food would be included in the ‘Food & Flicks’ service, especially as we were the first people to try it out. To order, you simply order via room service approximately one hour before you want to eat, but as it happened, our food arrived after 45 minutes.
We didn’t have a menu to choose from, which I think might be a good idea in future (if viable), but I would say there was something for most tastes. Everything came on a trolley that opened up into a formal round table, complete with white tablecloth and silver cutlery, and all the food stayed fresh and fairly hot under cloches. Here’s what we ate:
- BBQ Chicken Wings
- Doughballs and melted garlic butter
- Mini pizzas
- Fruit kebabs with chocolate & nut dipping sauce
I think it was difficult for the hotel to guesstimate how much food would be enough and I would say they were nearly there. Dexter is nearly 12 and, Slimming World diet aside, I think we would’ve appreciated a little more choice, especially when it came to the sweet things. The highlights of the dinner were the home-made fishfingers and fruit kebabs, absolutely delicious! Personally, I don’t think the chocolate sauce should contain nuts and you should be given a choice of drinks – our dinner came with Coke, which neither of us drink, but they were happy to change it for Diet Coke. I also think it would have been nice to have eaten some popcorn/sweets after dinner whilst watching a film together, and I have fed this back to the management which they have promised to take on board.
It’s the first time they’ve ever done it and I really love the concept of it, it just needs a couple of minor tweaks.
I took time out to have a wander around the hotel and another highlight was the Chinese restaurant, Min Jiang, and even though we weren’t lucky enough to eat there, I took some photos of the view – it was an absolutely stunning view of London and even if you’re not staying at the hotel, it would be a fantastic place to go and have a special meal.
Breakfast the next morning was just as I expected – fresh food to order, wonderful selection of fresh fruit and pastries, and a lovely calm and relaxed atmosphere. I could have happily spent hours there!
5* hotels offer everything other hotels do but I always find that the service is always impeccable, the sheets are whiter and crisper, the toiletries are wonderful luxury brands, the bath is deeper and wider … I could go on, but you get the gist.
Is it worth paying more for these things? With a view like this, most definitely yes.
The ‘Food and Flicks’ add-on is £40 for one adult and one child. An extra £25/£15 is then payable for each adult/child.
For further information, telephone The Royal Garden Hotel on: 020 7937 8000