As a Londoner, you miss out on London at its polite and polished best. The London that would turn up to a job interview. The London you would take home to meet your parents. The side of London that tourists get to see.
One of the (many) highlights of being travel writer involves hobnobbing with the London that doesn’t just squash you into its Underground system. It’s the London that knows how to put on a show.
Take The Cavendish, for example. Here’s a hotel that never crossed my radar when I lived, studied and worked in London. Only as a visitor did I wake up one morning to find the capital’s highlights laid out before me like a movie-styled skyline.
I pulled back the curtains to see St Paul’s. The London Eye. The Gherkin. I saw parks, Fortnum & Mason, the River Thames and a thousand and one more subtle signs of London, from the black cabs to the double yellow lines striped in paint so thick that they rise up from the tarmac.
It was like bumping into a childhood friend and finding out the catwalk model that they’d become.
The next day I followed up this heady tourist extravaganza with a cruise along the Thames as the sun said her shy goodbyes, thanks to the hospitality of Bateaux London.
I watched Big Ben cast tiger-like stripes across the water to the sound of live and soulful jazz. The Hallelujah Chorus blazed as Tower Bridge soared overhead.
I could hardly believe it myself. A little history, a little showmanship, a hefty dose of travel magic.
So this was the side of London that tourists got to see.
Back at the Cavendish, my mind awash with Monet-like silhouettes, I didn’t bother to draw my curtains.
At daybreak, I wanted to make the most of the view.
In truth, I wanted to make the most of London.
The Cavendish, The Traditional Review
The Cavendish is a 4 star hotel situated in the swish part of London, just behind Fortnum & Mason. Each of its 230 rooms have fast wifi (at a price), a widescreen TV and a sumptuous bathroom and double bed with striking colours, modern furnishings and plenty of space (on a London scale.)
For location, it’s practically unbeatable. It’s less than 30 seconds from the luscious Fortnum & Mason (can you tell I’m a fan?) and only minutes away from lesser sights like Piccadilly Circus, Westminster Abbey, Big Ben and so on.
You won’t find a swimming pool and you won’t find a gym, which is the only reason why this otherwise luxurious hotel only carries 4 stars.
The real secret weapon here is the pitch-perfect food, served on the first floor in a restaurant whose decor disguises its gastronomic quality. (The food’s great; the look not so much.)
I tried some of the most succulent lamb I’ve ever tasted here, along with lightly breadcrumbed fish with sauce tartare. The highlight of the meal, though, had to be the gin and tonic sorbet that came with a sharp citrus flan and ripe, red raspberry drops that tied the two flavours together perfectly. Finding a three course meal of this quality for less than £20 in central London is about as likely as pitching up to Waterloo Station at rush hour to discover that you’re the only person there. A real treat – and a real surprise.
All in all, a hotel I’d highly recommend.
Disclosure: I paid a reduced rate to stay at The Cavendish, London on the condition that, as ever, I was free to write what I wanted about the place. They also asked me to mention a way for you to save money if you book through their Facebook page. That sounded good to me, so here it is!