Family Travel to London

Discussion in 'Hilton | HHonors' started by askias, Jan 3, 2013.  |  Print Topic

  1. askias

    askias Silver Member

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    For those that have taken the family to London and stayed at a Hilton, my head is swimming trying to figure out the best choice. Is it the Trafalgar for location? The Paddington for convenience back and forth from Heathrow? The Tower Bridge? The Park Lane? I've seen so many pro and con comments on all these hotels, and its hard to judge what's best for a family visit. We will be three people, including a 5 year old. So ideally we'd like to be centrally located to the usual tourist sites and to the tube for quick on and off when traveling. Having grocery stores and shops around would be helpful as well. Any thoughts welcome. Thanks!
     
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  2. rwoman
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    rwoman Gold Member

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    Location: most properties are pretty central.
    - I would not just focus on Paddington for ease of access to LHR; I tend to feel the Heathrow Express is VERY overpriced. HEX Fares LINK - you may be able to book a car in advance for less than the 34-39GBP/adult for a return fare.
    - Park Lane is right by Hyde Park Corner, which gives easy access to the Piccadilly Line to LHR and the rest of central London.
    - The Hilton Green Park is also very central (Green Park Tube is served by the Piccadilly Line)
    - Have you thought about the DoubleTree properties? They provide options as well. The DT West End is between Holborn and Russell Square, which is near the British Museum and there are many shops restaurants "away from some of the touristy areas" nearby.

    Grocery/shops: there are local shops and metro Tesco/Sainsbury properties all over the city, so finding local food/grocery items should not be a problem.
     
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  3. askias

    askias Silver Member

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    Thanks. Do you know anything about the London Trafalgar? It seems to be the best for location.
     
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  4. 8MiHi

    8MiHi Silver Member

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    I have stayed at the Hiltons Park Lane, Hyde Park, Kensington and Metropole in the last five years. Each has met my needs very well. However, for a group of three with a 5-year old, I would suggest that only the Park Lane is likely to be fun as the latter three properties (especially Kensington) are inconveniently located for walks to fun places. Park Lane is also fairly close to the Piccadilly Underground line (Hyde Park Corner) which goes directly to LHR at a much lower price than the HEX, although it takes longer. I think that rwoman's suggestions are spot on as far as location goes since all of those hotels are in the heart of the action and also close to the Piccadilly line.
    The hotels that I have mentioned are often substantially less expensive in cash or points, but not always. Hyde Park is right on the Central Line and the Metropole is very close to the Bakerloo, Hammersmith and Circle lines, so if you choose either of these, you will use the Underground extensively. The Metropole has an indoor pool which very much mattered to my 10 year old several years ago.
     
  5. WilCo
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    WilCo Silver Member

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    Consider vrbo also (vacation rentals by owner). We saved a lot of money and had a lot more room for our little kids. The tube makes most locations fine. We stayed in Notting Hill and would do so again without hesitation.
     
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  6. askias

    askias Silver Member

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    Well I called Hilton about Park Lane, and they said there are no non-smoking rooms now? That all the rooms are smoking only? That's a big non-starter for us. I like the idea of the indoor pool, so maybe I will try for the Metropole next. I have a ton of Hilton points to burn, so no sense renting an apartment for this trip, although I might consider it in the future if I'm low on points.
     
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  7. Voodard

    Voodard Active Member

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    You should also read the reviews about Hilton hotels in London on tripadvisor. Looks like the Waldorf has decent reviews.

    FWIW, we ended up choosing The Royal Horseguards Hotel because they were running a special with United Airlines at the time. The location was amazing and with Embankment Tube Station a half block away getting around was about as easy as it could get.

    Have a good trip!
     
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  8. jparker

    jparker Silver Member

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  9. jparker

    jparker Silver Member

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    I think Metropole might give you most options in regards to rooms. I don't personally see Trafalgar or Green Park being particularly family friendly in regards to typical rooms. Metropole and Olympia immediate neighborhoods don't offer that many options. Islington has bustling local area and one stop away from Kings Cross/St. Pancras.
     
  10. newbluesea
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    newbluesea Gold Member

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    Fair enough about the HEX but the Paddington does have one decided advantage over the other properties and that is ease to public transport or more specifically the tube ( with what?? 5 lines passing through the station) a not too insignificant consideration when travelling with a 5 year old. Most of us have experience with the fickle London weather and I have found acccesing the tube without facing the elements at times almost worth the effort at times, in staying there.
     
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  11. 8MiHi

    8MiHi Silver Member

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    Externally, the Metropole is ugly and it might be too much of a walk from Paddington for a 5-year old. The Executive Lounge is small but very nice (not always made available to Golds). The hotel staff was wonderful during our stay in July and helped us with a bus tour that included the cathedral at Canterbury. We could have been given an upgrade if we had been willing to wait to 3pm, but they had rooms ready at 9:30 am which, after an overnight flight, was worth any possible upgrade. We were very happy with our stay and the ease with which we could get to the Underground.
     
  12. RAPC
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    RAPC Silver Member

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    I'm in London most weeks on business and have made it my duty to stay at most of the London Hiltons in the past couple of years. A couple of questions from me:

    1) You are doing this on points, is that correct? (If so, everything evens up with cost out of the equation)
    2) Are you planning on one room for the 3 of you? (sorry, no kids here, so not sure on practicalites)

    To answer your question about the Park Lane, somebody there was getting their wires crossed. They certain do have non-smoking rooms and as far as I know, all of the standard rooms are non-smoking.

    Now on to some opinion of the hotel portfolio:

    Ones to avoid:
    Hilton Green Park (poor points value, not a great property)
    Doubletree Victoria (location isn't as good, not great points value)
    Hilton Euston (poor property)
    Hilton Hyde Park (see Green Park)
    Hilton Olympia (location is far out and points value is abysmal)
    Hilton Kensington (location is not that great, some of the rooms are poor)
    Hilton London Docklands Riverside (awful location and not close to the Tube)
    Hilton Islington (I like the hotel, but not a good area for a tourist as you will need to travel everywhere)

    Ones I don't know:
    Doubletree Marble Arch
    Doubletree London Hype Park
    The above two are recent additions and from memory, one is a former Best Western and one is a former Ramada. I'm not rushing to stay at either of them.

    Some contenders:
    The Trafalgar
    - A bit more of a boutique style hotel. Rooms can be spacious and they do have a HHonors co-ordinator who you can liaise with in advance. Location is great, with easy walking to Trafalgar Square, The Thames, Charing Cross, Piccadilly Circus and a number of tourist attractions.
    - Breakfast is decent, but no lounge.

    The Waldorf
    - An older hotel at the opposite end of The Strand (about 10-15 minutes walk from The Trafalgar. Some nice rooms with plenty of character, but they do, like other older properties have some smaller rooms. You should manage to avoid those with a child with you. The location is close to Covent Garden, but not quite as convenient as The Trafalgar in my opinion.
    - They have a lounge that does a reasonable breakfast, as well as drinks through the day.

    Courthouse Doubletree Regent Street
    - Another property with a lot of character. A bit smaller and in the heart of the main shopping district and swinging London. (As Austin Powers will attest to - Carnaby Street is across the road) Rooms are an ok size.
    Breakfast was pretty poor and there is no lounge.

    Hilton Park Lane
    - A good property in an upscale part of the city and opposite Hyde Park. Not the best for local grocery type stores, but plenty of cafes. Rooms are decent, but they trade heavily on the location for the money.
    - They have a lounge and breakfast is good here.

    Hilton Tower Bridge
    - Another good property with a decent lounge and modern bedrooms. Location wise, it is close to London Bridge train and underground stations and some of the tourist attractions on the eastern side of the city. Despite the location just off the river, I don't believe that any of the rooms have any views of note.
    - Breakfast in the lounge or restaurant. The lounge does drinks and snacks through the day as well as evening hot and cold items.

    Doubletree Tower of London
    - A good property, with a location close to the Tower of London, as well as Fenchurch Street and Tower Hill stations. It is a modern hotel with nice enough rooms. I don't think it is the right area for you, but it may work for some visitors to London.
    - Breakfast is reasonable in the main restaurant, but becomes a bit of a zoo when busy.

    Hilton Paddington
    - A funny property really. Plenty of old rooms with character, as well as some old rooms that are just old. Generally it is a decent property and I quite like the lounge there. However I do think there are better options on points for you.
    - Breakfast in the lounge is solid, with hot and cold items in a nicely styled railway lounge.

    The Bentley
    - An opulently styled hotel. Traditional outside of the bedrooms, the rooms themselves can be considered luxorious or garish depending on your tastes. (Some look like they were styled by 3rd world dictator, with golden taps and marble galore for example!) Location wise, it is a bit out of the main part of the centre, but it is close to the Natural History Museum and the V&A Museum which you may be interested in. It is a bit further along to Knightsbridge and Harrods. The rooms are large and the hotel to me is genuine step up in luxury and offers a bit of the traditional British 'posh' ambience, without being unfriendly. There is a compromise on location.
    - Haven't had breakfast, so I can't add a breakfast review here :)

    Hilton Metropole
    - As has been mentioned earlier, it is a bit of an ugly duckling of a property, but inside it is good. If you do choose here, request one of the more modern rooms in the West Tower rather than an Executive room. These are bigger, modern and well appointed. The Exec rooms are smaller and need a good refurb rather than the cosmetic ones received.The West Tower rooms have rooms with queen, two queen and three queen beds and they are usually happy to help accomodate families on HHonors redemptions if you contact them in advance. The location is not great for tourism, but there are plenty of places to eat and drink locally, as well as convenience stores etc.
    - Breakfast in the main restaurant is good, with a very nice selection. The lounge should you prefer an Exec room has a pretty weak breakfast, but is good for drinks and snacks during the day.

    Hilton Canary Wharf
    - A bit of a wildcard as it is not in a tourist area and requires you to travel in to the centre by the Jubilee Line. However it is a great little hotel with nice rooms and good staff. Plenty of local shopping on the doorstep, as well as bars and restaurants in the Canary Wharf complexes. You can get straight from here to Greenwich and Woolwich and the attractions in that part of London and it is not far as well to the O2 complex across the river. Obviously with a 5 year old with you, this possibly isn't the hotel for you, but it is well worth considering for anyone due to visit London, especially at weekends when room rates here can be really low.
    - The lounge is here is very nice, with views across the river, facing the centre of London. Breakfast in the lounge and in the main restaurant is really nice too.

    I haven't reviewed a couple of the other Doubletrees in London. They are fine, but not conveniently located hence my ignoring them!

    Overall it depends on what you want from your stay. The Metropole is family friendly, so that could be a big plus for you. On location and quality of hotel I would probably recommend The Trafalgar or The Waldorf. Purely on luxury, then probably The Bentley.

    Happy to answer any questions, although I hope the above helps and doesn't cause more questions than answers!
     
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  13. schen75

    schen75 Silver Member

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    WOW, great info here. Thanks!
    But do have a question, is breakfast complimentary at any of your "Contender" hotels for Gold status members?? (i thinking about Park Lane, Waldorf, Trafalgar)
     
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  14. 8MiHi

    8MiHi Silver Member

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    I have gotten breakfast at all of the London Hiltons I have stayed in. Park Lane is the only one on your short list that I have experienced.
     
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  15. RAPC
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    RAPC Silver Member

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    You will definitely get breakfasts as a gold in all hotels. From what I know, for Golds it is as follows:

    Trafalgar - No lounge, so definitely free breakfast in main restaurant
    Waldforf - If upgraded they may request that Golds have breakfast in the lounge, but a colleague with Gold status on a stay was allowed to choose the full breakfast in the restaurant instead.
    Courthouse Doubletree - Continental breakfast only for Gold and Diamond. Definitely the weakest breakfast selection I have seen in the London Hiltons.
    Hilton Park Lane - not sure on what they do, but if upgraded to Exec floor, they may insist on you having it in the lounge.
    Hilton Tower Bridge - depends on the staff. Either lounge (if upgraded) or the restaurant or both.
    DT Tower of London - restaurant breakfast
    Hilton Paddington - lounge breakfast if upgraded, restaurant if not.
    The Bentley - I would definitely double check with the property if you choose this property. At one point there was talk of it becoming a Waldforf Astoria (which does not grant free breakfast to HHonors members) but that seems to have gone now. If it is treated as a Hilton, as it was previously, then it will still be breakfast in the restaurant.
    Hilton Metropole - Exec lounge if upgraded, main restaurant if not. They let me choose either as I have stayed a number of times in the past. Worth asking for the restaurant as the lounge breakfast is relatively limited.
    Hilton Canary Wharf - I believe they allow lounge (if upgraded) or the main restaurant. There is a little bit more choice in the restaurant, but the lounge views if you like that kind of thing have me choosing the lounge instead.
     
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  16. uggboy
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    uggboy Gold Member

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    It was actually the other way around, the Bentley was at first a Waldorf=Astoria property, but now is a Hilton, and I presume it gives Golds / Diamonds breakfast in their restaurant. We stayed there a few years ago when it was still a WA property and the breakfast was OK, as I remember it was more on the continental side, meaning a lot of cold items like cold cuts, cheese, breads, juices, yoghurt at the time. This could have been changed since then of course. We had also dinner their once during our stay at the time and the breakfast did not match the first-class dinner. Now, the Bentley is a Hilton property and breakfast is a guaranteed benefit, when it was an WA property breakfast was included in our overnight rate.
     
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  17. Sweet Willie
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    Sweet Willie Gold Member

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    Could not agree more, we all get swept up in the points game. Sometimes there are much better lodging options than hotels to earn/burn points.

    If one has a boatload of points sitting around or doesn't want any outlay of cash, then I understand burning but otherwise, seriously take a look at the other lodging options out there.
     
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  18. RAPC
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    RAPC Silver Member

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    Thanks uggboy. Knew there was a WA connection in there somewhere, so thanks for the clarification.
     
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  19. schen75

    schen75 Silver Member

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    Booked at the Waldorf Hilton from Friday to Monday in mid July, it would be nice if I can get upgraded and or offered free breakfast at their restaurant. Since I used points for my booking, what are my chances of getting an upgrade with gold status?
     
  20. schen75

    schen75 Silver Member

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    Silly question, is breakfast better at the lounge or at the restaurant? Not getting a very clear understanding based on what I read. Upgraded--> lounge. No upgrades--> restaurant. I would think restaurant will be the preferred option.
     
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  21. cguizlo

    cguizlo Silver Member

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    I loved the Hilton Tower Bridge. The staff is awesome and the lounge is very nice and the breakfast offered is great. The evening tea and reception with drinks was great to save a little money and still get snacks and drinks. We were upgraded to the Executive Floor as a Gold member and had nothing but good things to say about the hotel.
     
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  22. askias

    askias Silver Member

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    Thank you everyone for the truly amazing responses. I really appreciate it. Thank you especially RAPC for providing such a detailed post. As of right now, I'm planning on two connecting rooms at the Trafalgar and I'm booked there. Ultimately we just decided the convenience to the sights trumped everything else. The trip is not until August so we still have a chance to change our minds if something comes up.
     
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  23. RAPC
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    RAPC Silver Member

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    I stayed at The Waldorf last night and had breakfast in the lounge this morning, so whilst it is still fresh in my mind....

    For this property the restaurant breakfast is definitely better in terms of selection. The lounge breakfast has plenty of staff replenishing things and has a reasonable, but limited selection. It will do you fine on an average morning, but there is more to be had in the main restaurant.

    This morning (from memory) there was:
    Tea (tea selection and hot water) and coffee available from the coffee machine. Orange and Cranberry juices.
    Cold cuts, cheeses, yoghurts.
    A selection of cereals.
    A small selection of pastries, brown and white bread, (with a toaster) plus a couple of alternative bread selections.
    Sausage, bacon, eggs, mushrooms making up the hot options.

    The lounge is not that big, but is never really crowded from experience as they don't have a lot of executive rooms. Having stayed in an Executive room last night, I probably preferred the Deluxe room I received on a previous stay. It is an old hotel, so the rooms can be very different, as well as featuring squeaky floorboards. If you get an upgrade to an Exec floor, then you benefit from the lounge for afternoon tea and even drinks and snacks. If not, then hopefully you will still get a good room and a decent restaurant breakfast.
     
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  24. schen75

    schen75 Silver Member

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    just checked my reservation, should I take advantage of their eStandby feature? I can pay $50euros/night for a chance to get an upgrade to the King room with lounge access. As a Gold member (maybe an elite by the time I check in) what are my chances of getting an upgrade for free?
     
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  25. RAPC
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    RAPC Silver Member

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    The Waldorf from my experience will charge you if you opt-in for the upgrade and receive an Exec room, even if you would have received the upgrade for free. I think it all depends on whether you think you will get the value from the Exec lounge each day. If they are charging you circa €50 per night, which is just over £40 per day, I think you would need to be consuming a fair bit of alcohol each night and snacks and drinks during the day, or spending a good amount of time in the lounge.

    There is very little difference between many of the Exec rooms and the Deluxe room upgrades (which you would be very likely to receive as a minimum) except for the lounge access. I suspect you would be able to buy access to the lounge for cheaper at the property itself. I will see if I can find out a bit more on that for you.
     
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