The boutique hotel is on a row of white-fronted, grade-two-listed Georgian frontage dominated by hotels and bed and breakfasts, and it’s the one-time residence of Queen Victoria, no less. The greeting at reception is warm, although the parking meters outside have everybody flummoxed – they only take cards, but nobody realises until after the reception staff change a note for coins. Weekend parking is free from Friday evening onwards – if you’re parking midweek and arriving by car, pre-book with a nearby garage recommended by the hotel.
This area is a great base for exploring London or avoiding the hubbub – Pimlico is one of the posher neighbourhoods, on the cusp of the upmarket Belgravia, while the transport hub Victoria is a short walk away. The adjacent square is a peaceful escape from Big Smoke bustle, too, with free entry into its private gardens for guests.
The hotel prides itself on its technological innovation, and while our second-floor signature king room isn’t regal in size, at 18 square metres, it’s packed with smart touches. You can order a range of room services via the room’s iPad, including Blu-ray movies (there’s a DVD player next to the bed) and a neat complimentary daily tea service. The king bed has built-in massage functions, while the bathroom’s glass frontage frosts over for privacy at the touch of a button, and there’s a clever fold-out full-length mirror. All lights, curtains and blinds are electronically controlled, and connectivity is great – think of a socket connection, and this room has it. The widescreen television comes complete with Sky Sports, Sky Movies and other premium channels. There’s a small screen in the bathroom, synced to the main TV. The rain shower has two alternative nozzles, and there’s a heated towel rail. The self-proclaimed “fair-priced” minibar is a boon in such an expensive metropolis, as are in-room smartphones that allow guests to make free calls to landlines and mobiles in the United Kingdom and several other countries.
Reception staff are polite and helpful. Unfortunately, the restaurant waiters take ineptitude to a new level during dinner, making mistakes with our drinks, starters, mains, side order and dessert. They’re also painfully slow and inattentive – our mains dishes aren’t cleared for 20 minutes after we finish.
It’s an “adults only” hotel, which means you won’t see any children under the age of 13 here, so the vibe is largely couples-based. For sports fans, there’s a lounge on the ground floor with a 103-inch television.
The hotel’s restaurant, Bistrot on the Square, has food that matches its high ambitions. The Thai banana green curry soup with grilled tiger prawns (Â£6.50 [Dh37]) is a hearty starter, while the seared tuna Niçoise salad (Â£16.50 [Dh93]) is excellent. It’s just a shame the service isn’t up to such standards. At breakfast, cooked dishes are off because of technical problems – ironically – which means we’re restricted to continental breakfast (Â£15 [Dh84]). Thankfully, the spread is decent, with pastries, organic cereals, eggs, yogurt, meats and cheeses.
The tech and the location are hard to beat.
The somewhat woeful service at dinner.
A modern boutique stay backed up by a good dose of history.
The bottom line
Double rooms at the Eccleston Square Hotel cost from Â£154 (Dh731) per night, including Wi-Fi and taxes.
Source: art & life