We take a closer look at The Westminster London, Curio Collection by Hilton, where Donna Richardson recently stayed with her whole family over Valentine’s weekend.
For centuries Westminster has been the centre of political intrigue and power. One of its most recognisable landmarks is The Houses of Parliament within the Palace of Westminster, built by benedict monks. This elite neighbourhood’s most famous resident is the Prime Minister, who lives at 10 Downing Street.
The area even has a legendary pub called the Red Lion. Enjoy a glass of red wine here and follow the footsteps of the great and the good before heading over the bridge to The London Eye to enjoy soaring views of the capital with your beloved. Marvel at the architectural brilliance of Westminster Abbey, a symbol of love where 17 royal couples have tied the knot.
In a community of some of the world’s most legendary figures, past and present, you are in good company as you stay at The Hilton’s latest London hotel, The Westminster London Curio Collection.
More than Meets the Eye
Just a five-minute walk away from parliament, close to Millbank military hospital, this 464-room hotel is tucked away in a private location for those seeking sanctuary from the hustle and bustle of politics. Expect fellow guests to be MPs or diplomats, even secret agents, well-heeled business people, and refined tourists.
While it is associated with the Hilton, one of the world’s most famous and distinguished brands, don’t expect uniformity. This hotel has its own unique character, and there is more to it than meets the eye. Modernity mingles with refined elegance and tasteful quirkiness in the form of a display of bowler hats in the window. Intriguing paintings depict faces blurred or obscured, which nod to the anonymity of the guests who might frequent the hotel.
A Love of History and Politics
Formerly the DoubleTree Westminster, the hotel has undergone a significant refurbishment and switched brands to Curio Collection by Hilton. While the hotel itself may be modern, the area where this hotel is located is steeped in history. The Houses of Parliament in King James’ rule were famously the focus of a gunpowder plot in 1605, but the plot was foiled, and thankfully they still stand to this day.
At the centre of it is Big Ben tower built in 1859 and an instantly recognisable attraction that faithfully rings in the New Year in the capital as its image is broadcasted across the world and its renowned bells chime.
Over the road, Westminster Abbey is equally famous as the venue where King Henry I married Princess Matilda of Scotland in 1100, setting precedence through the ages for more recent royals such as Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Phillip to marry in 1947 and William and Kate in 2011.
There are statues of great politicians standing shoulder to shoulder in Parliament Square, including the powerful form of the illustrious wartime Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill.
With a wide variety of rooms and suites, a stay at The Westminster is an intimate and balanced experience. Their relaxed, modern, and sophisticated feel makes guests feel instantly at home. Our room was a 13th floor, king one-bedroom suite with a generous lounge area and sofa bed. The master bedroom has a large 50-inch television screen, while the lounge area features a fold-down sofa bed facing another television screen.
On arrival, hang your coat on the stand and nibble on the fresh chocolate-coated strawberries that await with a handwritten note by the housekeeping staff. As you pour a coffee from the slimline Nespresso machine, pause and behold the views of the London skyline. They are simply astounding, with Millbank military hospital, city buildings and even MI5 in full view.
Be mesmerised by the marvellous vista until the sun dips below the horizon and the sky turns inky black, and the high-rise landscape is illuminated by twinkling lights. Then step into the black marble bathroom with a vanity sink, oversized square bath and Crabtree & Evelyn DoubleTree toiletries, turn the taps and pour in some bubble bath.
Make sure you grab your champagne and spend some time unwinding with a carefully selected book laid out by hotel staff for some relaxation before dinner. There is also an enclosed WC for privacy. Larger families might want to book the 60sqm Westminster Suite, which has a substantial room with a separate living area containing a dining table, two bathrooms and incredible views over the River Thames.
Dining in style
Downstairs on the first floor is the highly Instagramable STK Restaurant, a venue to be seen with a stunning cocktail bar for pre-dinner drinks. Beautifully designed, this elegant eatery is set within splendid surroundings. From the moment you walk in, you enter a memorable ambience with a blend of exciting mood music and pizazz. Yet, once seated, you are in an incredibly private space cocooned in a booth.
Service begins from the moment you are seated. Our attentive waiter Daniel took our order and stayed with us the entire evening. I selected the Sweetheart cocktail, while my partner had some red wine, while our daughter opted for the citrus and sour mocktail. As we perused the starter menu, we were presented with a tasty signature brioche bread and sauce.
The menu is full of choices, but the tortellini topped with black truffle is one of the highlights. This dish is filled with melt in the mouth parmesan cheese, and the expensive truffle shavings that top it are flavoursome. The Caesar salad is extremely generous in portion size, while for smaller mouths, a ‘lil’ brg’s’ starter comprised of delectable mini burgers with lettuce and a special sauce is a winner.
The filet steak was delicious for the main course, served medium-well and accompanied by a lobster tail for a surf and turf meal and a generous serving of potato gratin. The steak sliced through like a knife through hot butter. Crispy on the outside in a chargrilled barbeque style yet soft on the inside, it simply melted in the mouth and went well with the salty flavour of the lobster.
You can also order a truffle or lobster butter sauce to accompany it. My partner also opted for filet but with truffle and parmesan fries, and they did a child’s portion too.
The hotel has a fabulous wine list with bottles ranging from £45 for a bottle of Bordeaux to £2,000 for a Chateau Lafite-Rothschild Pauillac, but the sweet France Chateau Laville dessert wine is wonderful with New York cheesecake. My partner’s chocolate cookie with caramel sauce and ice cream was delicious, but the generous staff also encouraged us to share a chocolate lava marshmallow cake with strawberry jam and dust, specially curated for Valentine’s Day. Our daughter had a healthy fruit salad brimming with goodness.
A VIP bowling alley
What makes this hotel truly distinctive is the private bowling alley for guests’ exclusive use. The whole family can have a fantastic night together in this intimate setting. The discovery of this brilliant bijou bowling alley provides a thrill to diners who want to finish their meal with an added flourish.
The room is sleek and modern, with comfortable seating for trying on bowling shoes and a self-returning ball mechanism for ease. Our little girl thoroughly enjoyed her first introduction to bowling in this private space. You’ll also find a bar that keeps the drinks flowing drinks so you can enjoy the company of your loved ones in your own private universe. Not only was it Valentine’s, but it was also Superbowl night, and what better way to enjoy it than in a hotel owned by an American group.
Once we had our little one tucked up, we tuned into the events across the pond before tucking in for a restful night on the comfy bed.
Exploring the neighbourhood
The following day the hotel serves a hearty full English breakfast accompanied by fresh bread and an array of pastries and cereals. The light and airy restaurant area is a wonderful place to start the day. As well as tasty food, it is well stocked with newspapers and coffee and tea, as well as a juicer for that freshly pressed taste.
The hotel even arranged a late check out for us, so we decided to explore the neighbourhood after breakfast. We spotted a kids’ play area across the road on Millbank called Horseferry Park, which backs on to the Houses of Parliament and along the edge of the River Thames too.
We would never have discovered this hidden gem had we not stayed in this hotel. It is free to use and an incredible setting for children to let off some steam. There’s a sandpit, wide slide and a climbing frame, as well as a water feature ideal for splashing in on a warmer summer’s day.
The Westminster Curio Collection by Hilton is the choice of the discerning traveller who travels alone for business or a place you can stay while on a high-end London break with the whole family. Class and heritage combine at this iconic venue, perfectly placed for exploring the capital’s most treasured attractions.
We had a brilliant time at the hotel. The room, location, service and meal were exceptional. Not only this, but they were incredibly family-friendly. The staff took special care to entertain and cater to our five-year-old daughter and her dairy intolerance, modifying the dishes for her. We would not hesitate to go back.
Address: The Westminster Hotel, Curio Collection by Hilton, 30 St John Islip Street, London, SWIP 4DD.
For more information, visit their official website www.hotelwestminster.co.uk
By Donna Richardson.
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