Review: A stay at The Strand Palace Hotel, London
- Credit: Red Photographic Ltd
A trip to London needs somewhere to stay that not only provides a haven from the busy street, but is exactly where you need it to be
It was with great excitement my husband and I climbed aboard the train to London, last month. We don’t go often, and we don’t go to shop – Manchester fulfils all those needs. We go for the escape, to meet old friends, discover new restaurants and visit places only previously seen on TV.
Our destination for this weekend was The Strand Palace Hotel, and it couldn’t have been better placed to serve our itinerary.
On arrival, we dropped our bags in our room and, after marvelling at the massive bed, headed to Covent Garden, just a three-minute walk away. It was as bustling and fun as ever, even with the then-requirement to wear masks indoors. G&T called, so we found a table in the Fevertree pop-up and sipped on Tanqueray Seville Orange gin and Mediterranean tonic while absorbing the sights and sounds of this very old part of London.
On our first evening we had made life easy on ourselves and booked a table in the hotel’s restaurant, a relaxed and informal setting with a menu to match. The food and service were excellent and the menu offered a selection of known and loved, can’t really go wrong, dishes. Too many restaurants do go wrong, of course, experimenting and deconstructing the classics such as fish and chips or burger and fries. Not here, thankfully. I started with a beautiful baked goat's cheese over salad leaves and Mike with a rich and flavourful terrine. My fish and chips was perfect – light and crispy batter, firm and crispy chips, clearly brough straight to the table with no time wilting on the pass. Mike’s burger was, he said, just as it should be – meltingly moist and deeply beefy. No room for pudding, we headed upstairs to our room and our vast bed (seriously, you could have comfortably fitted another adult down the middle and not noticed, but that’s not how we roll) and slept the night through.
I have never been to Kew Gardens before, but you can catch a Tube from Embankment straight there (Note: Wimbledon is on the same track, for tennis fans) and as Embankment is but a five-minute walk from the hotel, that’s what we did. Kew itself is beautiful – marvelling at the glorious houses we walked direct to the gardens and dived in. There is a lot to see and marvel at, not least the dramatic interactive sculpture, The Hive, designed by UK-based artist Wolfgang Buttress and inspired by a real beehive at Kew. One thousand LED lights glow according to the vibrations of bees that live in the Gardens and in the background, a musical symphony responds to this activity. The gardens are definitely worth multiple trips. After completing my 10,000 steps in Kew alone, we decided to come back another day to catch the bits we’d missed, and there is a lot.
Lunch was a poke bowl in a Kew café, earwigging on the kind of conversation that can only be heard in such a location, held at such a pitch it would have been rude not to. We left, wondering if Jacintha would indeed manage to get back from Japan for Toby’s birthday, and headed back for more drifting and gin at Covent Garden.
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Dinner that evening was enjoyed at the wonderful Café Murano, in Covent Garden, established by chef Angela Hartnett as an offshoot of her Michelin starred Mayfair restaurant, Murano. Oh my, the food is glorious – just bursting with flavour, fresh and vibrant and no less than you would expect from the kitchens of the marvellous Hartnett. It’s less than a five-minute walk from the hotel, and if you really want to up the elegance of the evening, you can finish with cocktails at The American Bar, in the Savoy Hotel, just across the road from the Strand Palace.
The Strand Palace Hotel delivers precisely what you want from a hotel in London; the rooms are large and very comfortable, the restaurant has great food and the full English, according to my husband, is extremely good. And its location is just perfect for shopping, the theatres, Wimbledon, Kew and so much more.