As a Londoner, excuses to take advantage of the city’s hotel scene don’t come around… well, ever. Unless there’s a big night out that just about justifies splashing out on a room, I’ll find myself the next morning carrying out the panicked ‘did my bag make it home last night’ room inspection from my own bed. However, this weekend I got to experience a little slice of the high life by swapping my stumble home with a stay at Hilton London Bankside.
It isn’t hard for the phrase ‘what you see is what you get’ to spring to mind when talking about the world-renowned hotel chain. Of course, you know what to expect in terms of quality, you don’t become a powerhouse of the hotel world spanning over 100 years by letting standards slip, but I was pleased to discover that Hilton London Bankside was more than meets the eye and still able to surprise.
Following a quick browse of the plush lobby, we scoped out the room which sported neutral colours and contemporary furnishings. As someone who loves a hotel bathroom, I consider this one a real show-stopper with its huge walk-in shower and accents of lavish marble. The room itself was just as fuss free but with a 42-inch HDTV and a huge bed dressed in ridiculously soft sheets, you couldn’t really ask for anything more.
We then made our way back downstairs to The Distillery. The décor gave off old-school glamour vibes with tufted brown leather sofas and dramatic light features. We ended up sitting in their delightful little outdoor seating area, covered by a fairy lit marquee. After one glance at the menu I could tell this was a great place to eat if you’re feeling peckish, which we just so happened to be. It was made up of classic, crowd-pleasing dishes done right, including wild mushroom arancini with truffle mayo (£10) and a tasty prawn cocktail served atop wedges of flatbread (£8), which was a first for me. Mains consisted of grilled seabass with asparagus, potatoes and a lemon butter sauce (£18), a light dish that starred a perfectly cooked, good-sized flaky hunk of fish, and a hearty cheeseburger (£16) topped with garlic mayo and served with crispy, fluffy-in-the-middle fries.
The real pull of this place has to be the location, so made the most of our close proximity to London Bridge’s bar scene by heading out for a few drinks. Upon our return we were met with a cloud-like bed which we already knew would be almost impossible to get out of in the morning. The highlight of our stay however had to be check-out day, which started with an impressive breakfast at the on-site restaurant OXBO. The stylish eatery, which also champions a four-course bottomless brunch on the weekends, hosted a buffet-style breakfast with an overwhelming offering, from pastries to cereals, fruits to yoghurts and granola, plus a cooked breakfast station and the obligatory conveyor belt toast machine. Honestly, if you could think of something that was missing from this extravagant spread, I’d be stunned.
We finished our stay with a swim, taking the lift down to the subterranean, dimly lit pool area that also housed a jacuzzi (score) and a row of loungers. The tranquil space would make anyone who enters feel instantly relaxed, and was the perfect way to round off our minibreak.
The DesignMyNight Digest
After spending just one night at Hilton London Bankside, it became clear that none of the 584 sites across the globe allow themselves to be carried by the reputation of the brand. Instead of falling into the trap of letting the Hilton name do all the talking, I could sense a desire to impress and offer a little something extra wherever possible, the hotel striving to earn its acclaimed title… as if they didn’t already have one. The full-service hotel felt effortlessly deluxe and becomes somewhere you’re excited to return to after a day and night of exploring the city.
For more amazing hotels in London? Check out our ultimate guide.