Posts

Hotel review: Park Plaza Westminster Bridge – A Little bit of Luxury in London!

 

So this is the view from our room…. 🇬🇧😍

A post shared by Jess Buck|JourneyswithJessica (@jessica16_x) on Apr 29, 2016 at 6:29am PDT

 

I have just returned from a fantastic weekend away in London with my best friend – we were in town to attend the glitzy UK Blog Awards which I was SHORTLISTED for in the travel category (more about that in another blog post)! The ceremony was held in the swanky Park Plaza hotel in Westminster and it just so happens that I was at the very same hotel last October to review their bar and restaurant! When I heard that the Blog Awards were to be held at the hotel though I couldn’t resist booking a room and bringing my best friend along for the ride. Here’s my full review of this stunning property…

parkplaza

The location

Situated at the end of Westminster Bridge and overlooking Big Ben, The Houses of Parliament and The London Eye, the location of this hotel is truly enviable. The hotel’s most unique feature is its prime position at the heart of London, just a stones throw from two tube stations, numerous eateries and some of the most iconic tourist attractions in the entire city.

 

 

The stunning Westminster Abbey can also be found within the vicinity, just a 10 minute walk away, and the Embankment is just around the corner – the beauty of this hotel’s fantastic location is that you can explore a huge part of London without even needing to hop on a tube!

 

#thisislondon 😍🇬🇧

A post shared by Jess Buck|JourneyswithJessica (@jessica16_x) on Apr 30, 2016 at 1:58pm PDT

The room

The hotel is laid out over 14 floors and is made up of 443 superior rooms, 512 studios and 64 suites/penthouses. For the purpose of my stay I was upgraded to an executive suite with iconic views – basically I had an ENORMOUS studio with separate living room, bathroom and bedroom and had the most stunning views I’ve ever had the privilege of waking up to! On my left was Big Ben and The Houses of Parliament, and on my right was The London Eye – could you get a more iconic view of London?! Our suite (room #1291) was 12 floors up giving us panoramic views across Westminster and we literally felt on top of the world.

I am SO missing waking up to incredible views like this! 😍😍 #traveltuesday #london

A post shared by Jess Buck|JourneyswithJessica (@jessica16_x) on May 3, 2016 at 7:40am PDT

 

The double bed was super comfy, with fluffy pillows and a snuggly duvet, while the living room area with sofa (which could also be made up into a sofa bed) gave the suite an added sense of space – super handy when we were getting ready for the awards! The bathroom was sparkling clean with a huge sink, mirror, bathtub AND separate shower cubicle and plenty of towels as well as two dressing robes and slippers – that was a beautiful touch and it really made us feel as if we were right at home! The room also boasted tea and coffee making facilities, a mini bar, Elemis bath products, two flat-screen LCD TVs, 24 hour room service and free WiFi throughout.

 

The facilities

Being a 4* hotel, I anticipated that there would be an abundance of facilities on offer to guests throughout their stay, and I wasn’t wrong! The hotel boasts two bars, two restaurants, an exclusive executive lounge (upgrades only), fitness centre and Mandara spa with sauna and steam room as well as a swimming pool. Oh and you’ll find a coffee bar, ballroom and meeting rooms a plenty.. what more could you want?! The reception areas also offer the perfect chill out seats with the most incredible views across Westminster Bridge.

 

Through the looking glass… yeah I see you #bigben 😍

A post shared by Jess Buck|JourneyswithJessica (@jessica16_x) on May 3, 2016 at 7:54am PDT

Brasserie Joel and Primo Bar are located on the first floor, both of which are extremely popular with guests and tourists alike – you can read my separate reviews for both of these here. We actually dined for lunch at Brasserie Joel and had the most amazing meal – the set menu was fantastic value for money at just £13.95pp – who said London hotel prices had to break the bank?! Big thank you to Gregory and Didier for looking after us!

 

 

Unfortunately we didn’t have time during our stay to visit the Mandara spa, complete with its sauna, steam room and pool, but it did look incredible! A wide range of beauty therapy treatments, from massages and makeovers to waxing and hairstyling, were on offer to guests for competitive prices. Next time I will have to make that all important spa trip!

The breakfast

Anyone that knows me will know that I love my food and, as it’s the most important meal of the day, breakfast is always a big part of my hotel stay. I enjoy a mix of continental and full English so was pleasantly surprised to see that pretty much every breakfast food imaginable was on offer the next morning! I was sort of expecting everything to be continental (and healthy) as Park Plaza is a large European and worldwide chain but thankfully I was able to devour a hash brown (or 5) and a couple of good old British sausages!

 

There were two breakfast rooms, one in the same place as Brasserie Joel, and the other on the lower floor. Both rooms were huge and more than adequate for serving breakfast – there were SO many people yet there was plenty of food to go round. We had been told that the hotel was fully booked so I can imagine that there were thousands of breakfasts being tucked into over the bank holiday weekend!

The staff

I was so impressed with the lovely staff at the hotel, all of whom were attentive, approachable and friendly – nothing was too much to trouble. From the reception and front of house staff to the waitresses to the housekeeping team, everyone was so welcoming and really made our stay such a happy one.

After lunch we returned to our room to find a beautiful dessert platter and a note that had been left on the side – this thoughtful gift really added that extra special touch and I felt so lucky! We were treated like VIPs the whole weekend and it was truly wonderful.

 

Agathe from the reception team also took the time out of her day to show us the executive lounge; an exclusive area for guests looking to relax in a quiet part of the hotel. Complete with all inclusive breakfast and afternoon food and drinks buffet, indoor atrium and views of Big Ben, an upgrade to the executive lounge is a unique experience worth splashing out on!

 

So there we have it, my full review of the beautiful Park Plaza Westminster Bridge. I honestly cannot recommend this hotel enough and I would encourage anyone who wants to sample a true taste of London to book a room and enjoy a little bit of luxury! For more information on this hotel or to book a room please visit their website directly.

 

Thank you SO much to all at Park Plaza for a wonderful stay – I will certainly be back!

Love Jess x

NB. This was a partly sponsored post and I collaborated with Park Plaza for this review but all thoughts, opinions and images are totally my own.

Westminster Review: Top Bars and Restaurants

12119035_10207580823660101_3095314390502369335_n   12003169_10207580821340043_3398110022069356108_n

Hi everyone,

So I recently had the pleasure of spending the day in London reviewing bars and restaurants for a neighbourhood project that I’m currently working on for The Culture Trip. I’ve never done anything like this before, most of my write ups have been based on internet research rather than personal experience as I can’t put too much first person writing into my Culture Trip articles! As you can imagine, I jumped at the chance to review some of the trendiest bars and restaurants in one of the best parts of London, the beautiful borough of Westminster. It’s no secret that I’ve always loved London and I have a particular soft spot for Westminster so was delighted to be able to take on this area for one of my neighbourhood projects.

the_culture_trip_logo_square

I didn’t have long in the capital and knew I had to plan my day as best as I could so I emailed a few of my chosen establishments in advance to set up some meetings. To my delight, managers from my top 2 bars and restaurants replied and I set up meetings with them both; Didier Agueh (Executive Host & Artistic Director) and Gregory (Restaurant Manager) of Primo Bar, Park Plaza Hotel and Sergio of The Zander Bar, part of Bank Westminster. Both interviews went brilliantly and I was able to learn a lot about the establishments as well as get an understanding of the menus and the types of customers that pass through the doors. My friend and I were even treated to some lovely complimentary drinks- thanks guys! So without further ado, here are the big interviews …

WMBR_54374441_Primo_Bar_4208x2800

Primo Bar, Park Plaza Westminster Hotel

When did you first open? March 2010

Most popular time of day? After work for business people, or after 9pm on events nights. Primo Bar is proud to host a number of events and music nights throughout the year, including  shows from top tribute acts and jazz and soul artists.

Who are your target audience? We attract guests of all ages, but our main target audience are adults over the age of 25. Most are of course hotel guests but we do get large numbers of locals and tourists looking for a luxurious place to relax and unwind after a hard day at work, or to enjoy their Saturday night out.

Signature drink? We run a Cocktail of the Month promotion, and October’s special is a fantastic Spiced Rum Sour for £12.95. Alternatively we run a 2-4-1 cocktail deal every weekday from 5-8pm only.

Any famous celebrity spots? Bruno Mars, Nicole Scherzinger, the cast of Fast & Furious 7 and our very own Prime Minister David Cameron!

4

Brasserie Joel, Park Plaza Westminster Hotel

When did you first open? March 2010

Most popular time of day? Evening meal times between Thursdays and Saturdays.

Who are your target audience? Mainly hotel residents, it’s about a 75% to 25% split between residents and members of the public.

Signature dish? Chef Walter Ishizuka is known for his excellent Tournedos Rossini, a fillet of beef served in a truffle sauce.

Any famous celebrity spots? Jessica Wright (of hit TV show The Only Way is Essex) dined here last week actually!

56-3977151-zander

The Zander Bar, Bank Restaurant

When did you first open? 2007

Most popular time of day? Straight after work for locals, and on into the early part of the evening. We run a Happy Hour promotion between 5pm and 9pm Tuesdays-Fridays.

Who are your target audience? Business people

Signature drink? Our cocktails and our selection of Martini’s

Any famous celebrity spots? Because of our close proximity to The Houses of Parliament we often attract many politicians, one of the most well known being Nick Clegg.

3

Bank Restaurant

When did you first open? 2007.

Most popular time of day? Early evening for after work locals and business people, where corporate events and meetings are often held in our private dining rooms.

Who are your target audience? Business people during the week, but we also attract tourists and locals during weekend leisure.

Signature dish? We serve a range of meats and steaks in our fantastic tandoori clay oven- they are always popular with our customers!

Any famous celebrity spots? As above, many politicians visit due to our brilliant Westminster location.

My published articles for Best Bars and Best Restaurants have just gone live, and I wrote a post on Top Things to See and Do in Westminster a while back. I’d just like to say a big THANK YOU again to Didier, Gregory and Sergio for having me- I’ll certainly be back! My next neighbourhood projects are Covent Garden and Canary Wharf so I’ll be heading back down to the capital for some more research soon and will be posting my reviews and interviews afterwards. I’m thoroughly enjoying my latest projects and cannot wait to share more of my handy tips with you and all of The Culture Trip readers.

Speak soon!

Love Jess x

12122668_10207580816899932_3213594365894869276_n   12106830_10207580823140088_4227005998846724350_n

London Day Trip: From Kensington to Westminster to Tower Bridge!

IMG_1844907198954

London blog write up: The day we walked from Westminster to Tower Bridge!

Happy Friday everyone! Today’s post is all about London – my favourite city in the world! It was my birthday last week so me and my best friend caught the train to Paddington station to enjoy a fun filled day out in our wonderful capital city. First of all we headed to South Kensington to check out the Royal Albert Hall & Kensington Gardens as we both hadn’t been to that area of London since we went on a school trip at the tender age of 14! The Royal Albert Hall is such a unique and iconic London landmark, and I’d forgotten how beautiful it was. Opposite was the famous statue of King Albert & Queen Victoria together which presented yet another photo opportunity, greatly complimenting the beautiful Royal Hall.

IMG_1650897103327IMG_1634666646326

Next we took a wander past The Natural History Musuem, but decided against going in at that time as the queue reached almost as far as South Kensington tube station! We headed into the museum on our way back home though, so that will feature in this  post a little later on.

After catching the tube from South Kensington to Westminster we strolled round the area taking in all the well known sights, including Big Ben, Westminster Abbey and The Houses of Parliament.

IMG_1666227169866 IMG_1674035290636 IMG_1686424893868 IMG_1697346111561 IMG_1707276762638

Next stop was the Embankment, one of my favourite parts of London, and we marvelled at The London Eye whilst stopping for a quick bite to eat. After passing the Sealife Aquarium, London Dungeons and amusements arcade we headed for a long stroll down The Queens Walk towards Jubilee Gardens and the famous Golden Jubilee bridges.

IMG_1713611312792 IMG_1839184979646 IMG_1852556927954 IMG_1863371072570 IMG_1870283270109

Our intention was to end up at Tower Bridge via the underground District Line, but we ended up walking there rather than getting the tube as it was such a lovely day with bright sunshine! Our walk was amazing, and we were able to take in so many famous landmarks on our way including:

St Paul’s cathedral IMG_1893449131264

The Gherkin IMG_1948984298575

The Shard IMG_2002311453886

The OXO tower IMG_1877559808032

Shakespeare’s globe theatre IMG_1899527394418

The Millennium & London bridgesIMG_3144097175800

HMS Belfast IMG_1909414154496

All Hallows church IMG_2023129856195

I loved the freedom of exploring the city on foot, rather than by using the underground, and although it took over an hour to reach our final destination, it was totally worth it!

IMG_1916215165958 IMG_1927522824266

IMG_2009306672271

Tower Bridge is my favourite place on earth, I absolutely love it and for me nothing else compares; it will always hold a special place in my heart for very personal reasons. We took many photos (including selfies!) and made friends with lots of lovely tourists who were seriously impressed with my selfy stick- a must have for any travel blogger! After walking across the monumental bridge and back down past the Tower of London we decided to head over to Tower Hill tube station and make our way back to South Kensington.

IMG_1960019361653IMG_1952936851729IMG_1974954130115

Once there we ventured into The Natural History Museum (I told you it would return!) and explored the premises – I’d not been to the museum since I was ten years old so it was amazing to see how much it had changed, and how little I remembered! It was exciting to re-discover everything though, from the space and geographical areas to the fossils and historical departments which I found the most fascinating.

IMG_2032728054349 IMG_2040800938965

After an incredibly tiring but amazing day we headed back to Paddington and onwards home to Oxford station. I had an amazing time celebrating my birthday in my favourite city, but was so ready for my bed that night! I hope you’ve enjoyed my write up of London, if you have any questions please get in touch.. what parts of the capital have you been to and which are your favourites?

Speak soon!

Love Jess x

IMG_2056558033735