Full Compliments to Hotel Café Royal London

Hotel Cafe Royal, without a doubt one of London’s best

Located on Regent Street, spitting distance from Piccadilly Circus, the Hotel Café Royal has a well-deserved reputation as one of London’s best. 

Oscar Wilde and Muhammad Ali, Winston Churchill and David Bowie, David Chipperfield and Elizabeth Taylor…. and now Brett Jobling and Stefan Pavlovic have added their names to this venerable and truly memorable London hotel. 

We transferred to this hotel after 5 nights in a micro hotel, having purchased the Café Royal’s £750 Spa Package – this entitled us to an upgrade to a Grand Superior Guest Room, £100 per person spa credit, and full breakfast.  

From the doorman to the check-in we are treated like VIP’s. The foyer is a stunning foretaste of the hotel’s décor.

We are early and our room is not yet ready, so we head to the Akasha Spa to book our hot stone massages – again we are made to feel like very special guests.  

The spa facilities are in a cavernous underground space – gym, lap pool, jacuzzi, dry sauna, and hammam (steam sauna). Bathrooms are generously appointed with complimentary toiletries, slippers and robes. Our massages are delivered by a skilful therapist and by the time our room is ready we float out of the spa in a state of sheer bliss. 

But more luxury surprises await. On our way to the room our Guest Relations Host explains the complimentary town car service for one-way chauffeur driven trips around central London. “So, if you have somewhere you need to go, just ask  the Concierge if the Bentley is available.” 

Bentley? Free ride in a Bentley? I’ve definitely got somewhere I need to go! 

Our host takes me to our room and gives a run-down of the features and functions. The bathroom is bigger than our previous hotel room! There’s welcome chocolate strawberries in the bar and a bottle of Veuve Clicquot on ice in the living room. A Bang & Olufsen TV, automatic curtains, a giant bed, and robes hanging in the wardrobe. The bathroom has a rain shower, heated panels behind the towel rails, generous toiletries, and an in-mirror TV (of course).  

The hotel is simply beautiful throughout – sleek modern décor in the halls and  guest rooms contrast with a grand classical ambience in the lobbies, stairways and restaurants, redolent of the Café Royal’s glorious history. In particular, The Grill Room, also known as the Oscar Wilde Lounge, is a study in gilded opulence – you can take High Tea here (bookings essential) but at the very least you must go in for a look at this masterpiece.  

We are only here for a night so we really don’t want to leave the property – but the Bentley beckons, glistening and shiny just outside the front doors. We book a ride to Covent Garden (the service is only good for a 2 mile radius) in near peak hour traffic. It would have been quicker to walk, but hey, it’s a ride in a Bentley and the looks from passing pedestrians (they’re going faster than us) makes it worth the while.  

Back at the hotel we have a leisurely cocktail in The Green Bar – complimentary bar snacks of course. On return to our room we find that the turn down service has provided complimentary slippers and some heavenly sleep spray. Only the most inveterate of insomniacs could fail to get a good night’s sleep in the Hotel Café Royal. 

Next morning we enjoy our generous included-in-the-package breakfast – A la carte menu plus pastries and spreads. I can only assume that the little jars of jam and honey are also complimentary, because they travelled home with me.  

As we’ve been given a complimentary late check out, we’re able to do some last-minute shopping around Regent and Oxford Street. Even after check out we are afforded –complimentarily – use of the Akasha spa facilities. So we are relaxed, showered and refreshed when we eventually leave the Café Royal for our late flight out of Heathrow. 

This was probably one of the finest hotel experiences I’ve ever enjoyed. Impeccable service from a 5 star property and we were made to feel like genuinely valued guests at all times. I can’t wait to go back.  

Mimi’s Hotel Soho London

Mimi’s in Soho

Micro Hotel – Mega Convenience

This superbly located hotel on Frith Street in London’s Soho district is a 5-10 minute walk from each of Piccadilly Circus, Leicester Square and Oxford Street, so whilst it might be small on space, its goes large on convenience.

These ‘micro’ hotels – like the Z Hotels in central London – are trending, and they’re a realistic alternative for the visitor who expects to spend nearly all of their waking time, well, visiting. If you want to lounge around the hotel on your holiday, then Mimi’s is probably not for you.

We booked 5 nights in Mimi’s smallest double room, just a bed and an en suite really, and no windows. We were a little worried about claustrophobia and cabin fever, but we also knew this was just a place to sleep at night.

The price was excellent, so it worked for us.

The hotel is clean and modern with 24 hour reception. Staff were helpful and courteous, and there is a cafe/bar in the foyer if you need some break out space from the room (or your partner). Wifi is free throughout the hotel.

The room consisted of a king bed (wall on 3 sides – kudos to the domestic staff who made up the room perfectly each day), an entry big enough for one person to stand in, and a small but well appointed en suite.

The shower was hot and strong, which is about the most important thing in a hotel bathroom.

There’s a wall mounted TV above the foot of the bed. Storage is under the bed and a coat hook behind the door. Dual occupants need to coordinate their movements fairly carefully to make this work – suggest one person goes out to get coffee while the other gets ready in the morning!

The room was quiet and dark (no windows, remember) and the bed is comfortable, so totally restful at night.

At around $200 AUD per night (we booked through Qantas Hotels) it’s competing in the same price bracket as the Oxford Street Youth Hostel.

Mimi’s is great value for a clean, modern, full service hotel in central London.

The 10 Best International Places to Propose

Voted on by no one in particular and selected by no particular authority other than me. I’ve been to all of these places – but I’ve only proposed at one of them.  

10 Hot Air Ballooning over the Serengeti 

Your special partner will never forget a proposal floating above herds of giraffe or zebra, followed by a champagne breakfast on the plains. I’ve ballooned over the Serengeti and it is indeed spectacular – though I did not propose to anyone. You might want pay for exclusive use of the basket if you don’t want to be sharing the experience with random strangers. 

Be careful if you are proposing to your same sex partner – same sex relations are illegal in Kenya.  

Serengeti circa 1988

9 On a Gondola in Venice 

Pop the question as you float under the Rialto Bridge. Kitsch? It probably doesn’t get kitscher. But memorable… definitely. I’ve been to Venice a couple of times but I was too cheap for pay for a gondola ride.  

8 In an Overwater Bure in the Maldives 

There’s nothing as romantic as listening to the water lapping underneath your bedroom floor at night, or sipping cocktails as you dangle your legs from your private balcony in the crystal clear water. There are some incredibly indulgent resorts to choose from, but some are going to cost more than the engagement ring.  

Same sex relations are illegal here – you can pop the question but you can’t marry your same sex partner.  

Coco Bodu Hithi

7 The Taj Mahal, India 

Proposing at a mausoleum might seem a bit macabre. But the Taj was built by the Shah Jahan as a symbol of his everlasting love for his wife Mumtaz Mahal. Actually Mumtaz was the Shah’s favourite wife, not his only wife. India may have turned its back on polygamy but they are yet to embrace same sex marriage.  

Still, the Taj Mahal is one of the most beautiful buildings on earth. 

Sunset at the Taj, circa 1985

6 Top of the Empire State Building 

An iconic view from an iconic building. Surely more romantic than its modern-day viewing rival, One World Tower. If you happen to be in New York with your loved one, the Empire State affords a golden opportunity for a Proposal to Remember. Consider making your partner watch An Affair to Remember before you go – just for added impact. Whether you’re a Deborah or a Cary, the US had had marriage equality since 2015. 

View from the Empire State 2006

5 Top of the Eiffel Tower 

Paris, city of lights, city of romance. If you find yourself in Paris when the time is right, it would be hard to go past the Eiffel Tower. I’d recommend doing it at night to enjoy the lights. Same sex proposals welcome here! 

4 The Shard in London 

Arguably offering the best view of London, the Shard also offers a unique Proposal Package. A whopping 640 GBP gets you an exclusive 30-minute hire of The View from The Shard, in a private area decorated with hundreds of rose petals & candles. You’ll get champagne and chocolates and a dedicated concierge to ensure all goes smoothly. You’ll have to pop the question yourself though. 

3 Hawaiian Sunset Cruise 

Hawaii is a great place for a honeymoon. It’s also a great place for a destination wedding. So why not the whole package? Utter those four little words on a romantic sunset catamaran cruise from Waikiki or Maui and – if he or she says yes – spend the next day scoping out some wedding options. Return one year to the day for a wedding and honeymoon to be remembered. 

2 Make a Grand Statement with a Helicopter Flight into the Grand Canyon 

Your partner is sure to be impressed with a helicopter flight over and into the Grand Canyon. The only decision to make is whether to propose on the canyon floor or up on the rim. And if you’re in a hurry you could get a quickie marriage back in Vegas on the same night. Helicopter flights aren’t cheap but you’ll save a bomb on the wedding! 

1 The Whispering Gallery, Grand Central Station New York 

This acoustic marvel will allow you to whisper sweet nothings in your loved one’s ear while they listen 30 feet across the hallway. This was where I attempted to propose but I lost my nerve – so I popped the question under the Christmas Tree in Rockefeller Centre instead. Not a bad fallback plan.  read more