I'm back, and more or less restored to health. I have to say in terms of bad sicknesses to get as you're arriving some place, it's on top of the list (I can only imagine what it's like on a cruise ship, where it is also apparently prevalent). But enough of that.
I will no longer stay at ANY other hotel in London, because the Marriott West India Quay is the best in every respect except one: the first time traveler or only time traveler to London. (Jerry, is this why you feel the way you do about La Défense in Paris?). First of all, I've stayed at the Marble Arch several years ago (an unmitigated disaster in an area where I felt completely unsafe, and those of you who 'know' me know that doesn't happen easily) and the London County Hall every time since, paying or on points. The first time on points at the LCH was the best, when I got in immediately and was given a suite with great views. Every time since has diminished my opinion of that hotel, which is why I looked around. And oh, I'm so glad I did!
The West India Quay is spectacular! First of all (and imagine my condition, having been afflicted immediately after disembarking and wanting to get through customs fast, but having no coins to use facilities. I bought a Heathrow Express ticket, then still had no coins, so got a cab. Jerry is right, especially for getting to the WIQ -- there is almost no difference in what I paid between the combo of HE and cab in the early morning on Thursday (around 6am) and what I paid Sunday morning for a full cab all the way to my departure gate at LHR -- but it is about 100 GBP. I would NEVER usually pay this, but in both cases the circumstances were unusually. In the first case I would have died (laugh, if you will, but that's how I felt) if I did not get there soonest possible and the ATM was the best I could do. Going back I had to get to LHR on a Sunday before the tube and DLR starts running. So if you take my advice and stay at the WIQ and have a very very early flight, consider staying the night before at Heathrow.
The staff at WIQ is magnificent, from check-in at before 7:30am, to greetings as a very special member (oh, it's been a while - probably since the last time at the Athens Ledra) that I was treated so royally. It was discomfiting that I had to wait a short time to get my suitcase brought to my room (I'm a do it yourself type, and never so more so than that morning!), but I got a concierge floor level room (there are four, and most face the immediate dock canal and toward the City of London (esp if you have a zoom lens). Never has a bed felt so good in my life. It reminded me of my first and only stay at the Trocadéro in Paris, when Marriott mattresses were to die for (many, unfortunately, have gotten old, but not so at the WIQ). I haven't stayed at the Trocadéro since, because it isn't my part of Paris, so for those of you 'not frequent travelers' take this for what it is.
I do not particularly like London, except as most of you know now, the East End, City, British Museum area, and Docklands. But for the first time in all of my numerous trips to London to meet with publishers and do research I felt AT HOME. It is a wonderful area, a little more removed from the East End than I would have liked, but there are all sorts of fancy restaurants and chic shops and boutiques in Canada Mall, Cabot Square, and Canary Wharf.
Here is what I got on check-in and what turned out to be fully true:
- the 7th floor lounge is open 7 days a week
- on all those days, there is an afternoon treat from 2:30-5:30; hors d'oeuvres from 5:30 to 7:30 with free wine; and desserts from 7:30 to 9:30
- a delicious breakfast is served in the lounge on M-F 6:15-10:30 (very generous hours)
- on weekends, when breakfast is not served in the lounge (even though it's open so you can go in and grab cokes or juices early in the day), you get a comped breakfast in the Manhattan Grille, where they treat you not like a comped person but like a special guest. And what a breakfast! Choice of multiple omelets, eggs, breakfast meats, potatoes, all kinds of breads and fruits and juices, etc.
- the staff is fabulous on every level, from Fanny and Carmen in the lounge (pics to follow in the next post), to the two great concierges I spoke with -- the main guy is super. The secondary one on Saturday seemed not quite to get why I wanted to know the easiest way to get to Whitechapel (by foot or rail)
- the DLR literally is at the hotel (you'll see it in one of the pics). While you have to go out the near restaurant side door and hug the hotel to the left, it's right there. No walking at all.
- the hotel comps all elite members two free 'pressings' of garments
- while the note they give you asks you to consume every thing in the lounge, they are quite easy about that, so if you're tired or sick and trying to pretend not to be, you can take wine or juices back to your room
- the Manhattan Grille is superb, with a multilingual staff, and great food -- in fact, there are great restaurants all over the areas.
The pictures I'm attaching look out across the canal. I was on the 6th floor, so you can't see it in some. I LOVE this hotel. I may not have mentioned enough how comfortable its bed is. When you're feeling unwell and get one of those first ever type Marriott mattresses, it makes you never want to leave. I will ALWAYS stay here again when in London.