Living it up at the Landau

Last night, me and t’other half got the cat sitter in and sped off for a night at the newly refurbished Langham Hotel, just across the road from the Beeb’s Broadcasting House at the top end of Regent St.

Aside from the fact we were super looked after and got a fabulous room on the ninth floor of the hotel with amazing views across London to the Eye, one of the things I was most looking forward to was dinner in the Landau restaurant which I’d heard great things about.

Chef Andrew Turner came to the Landau last November and was previously at the Latymer at Pennyhill Park Hotel and the Bentley Kempinski, he’s also put together an innovative menu of modern European cuisine with produce sourced from across the UK.

We tried a seven course grazing menu. Yes, that’s right, seven courses, including a delightful sweat pea veloute,a Cornish crab concoction and English lamb cutlets. I was hoping t’tother half had not noticed there were sweatbreads on the latter, just to see the look on her face afterwards, but sadly she cottoned on before trying them.

Anyway, it was all fabulous and the hotel will be reviewed in our Wednesday Room Service column in a couple of weeks time. If you do go, do look out for one of the deserts, the Mango Egg, which has an extra special surprise when you pop it into your mouth…

Hanging with the Bling King

Dover seems to still be getting over the last recession, never mind this one, but back in the 12th Century when Henry II was king, things were much different.

The father of Richard The Lionheart and King John, Henry’s empire stretched north to Scotland and as far south as Aquataine in France, so Dover Castle was built right in the middle of it all – but it served a greater purpose than just putting him at the centre of his kingdom.

In a fight for power, Henry had despatched his erstwhile pal, the cleric Thomas Becket, who had posthumously been canonised and his remains at Canterbury Cathedral became an attraction for pilgrims. Ian effort to show who was boss, Henry II wanted the pilgrims to see his crowning glory on their way to the shrine.

Given it’s strategic and PR importance, the king furnished the castle lavishly with spending sprees that would have put Elton John to shame – a fact only recently disovered after extensive research by English Heritage. The Great Tower has spent the last year getting a £2.5m makeover to reflect this new thinking and is now lavishly refurbished with some state of the art interactive gadgets thrown in to keep the kids interested.

At the launch, English Heritage put on a huge light show to reflect what the ‘King Of Bling’ could have had in mind if he were alive today and we also got to play around with a new fangled light graffiti system, hence my rubbish attempt at writing Metro on it’s walls in the above pic.

My other half and I also got to stay in a unique property on the site: Peverell’s Tower. The castle’s former prison was built in the 1300s but has now been transformed into an EH holiday cottage. Some of the old features remain: wooden beams, an exposed fire place and the name of a former prisoner etched into one of the walls. It’s a spooky, yet incredibly special place to stay… try it out if you can.

What's your worst hotel experience

An interesting one  has just popped into my inbox by price comparison site Trivago about their customer’s worst hotel experiences – they claim to have surveyed 4,800 people.

In order they are:

22 per cent: bugs in the room

14 per cent: nothing (which prooves we will complain about anything)

10 per cent: poor or broken sanitary arrangements

10 per cent: constant or noisy neighbours

8 per cent: theft from the room

7 per cent: food poisoning from the hotel

6 per cent: unfriendly staff (isnt this the norm?)

5 per cent: unacceptable food (ditto)

5 per cent: a construction site next to the hotel (were they in Spain in the 70s or Dubai in the 90s)

4 per cent: leftovers from former guests (see below)

4 per cent: dirty pool

3 per cent: no free room desite a reservation

1 per cent: wrong hotel bill

1 per cent: chlorine poisoning from the pool

All the above seem to pale compared to my own particularly nasty ‘leftover’ in the room when I stayed in the Quality Hotel in Brighton about seven years ago.

Once I’d fought my way through the recovering hens and stags draped around the lobby, I finally got to my room, only to find that despite just being ‘serviced’ there was a used tampon left on the side in the bathroom. Yes, A USED TAMPON.

A call to reception saw no apology, no grovelling, no nothing. They just send a maid back up to the room to clean it up (I didnt hang around to see her do it)

Now that really is a bad hotel experience, but Im sure you’ve had some worse ones… so let’s do our own survey. Come on, what’s your worse hotel experience:


Packing essentials: a CO alarm

Lynn is president and founder of CO Awareness Week, which isn’t held until November, but in the meantime, they are advising people to take a carbon monoxide alarm with them on holiday.

Lynn and her family suffered from CO poisoning some years ago, so if anyone knows what kind of effect the silent killer can have on family life, it’s her.

The main thrust of the campaign is to avoid tragic accidents like the one in Corfu three years ago, when two young children Christianne and Robert Shepherd were killed by poisonous fumes while on holiday.

I try not to normally beat the drum on here – nor make it too glum – but this sounds like as good a campaign as any to support, so remember, the cost of a CO alarm is less that £25 and that could save you or your family’s life when on holiday.

For more details, see their website

Slice of Apple pie for Travelodge

So they may not have the most glamorous hotels in the world and even then, a weekend stay may see you surrounded by stag and hen parties, but budget hotel chain Travelodge certainly come up with some of the best PR ideas.

Some of the stunts that have gained column inches in Metro include space age all-in-one sleep suits, portable hotel rooms built in shipping crates (supposedly ideal for festivals as they can be dismantled and moved) and offering free hotel rooms at Christmas to couples called Mary and Joseph.

Of course, none of the ideas ever come to anything but serve their purpose through getting the company name out there and keeping it in the public eye – until now that is.

Today saw the company launch an app for the Apple iPhone which allows you to check available rooms in nearby hotels by using the company’s booking mechanism in league with the phone’s inbuilt GPS.

The app is available via the iTunes store and perfect for those nights when you’ve missed the last bus home and need somewhere cheap and nearby to stay.