Five years ago I stayed at the Hilton Hotel in Amsterdam. I chose to stay there because it was the same Hotel where John Lennon and Yoko One staged their 1969 ‘bed-in’, to protest at the Vietnam War, inviting the worlds press to come and visit while they stayed in bed for a week. The room itself was cool, but if I’m honest I was a bit underwhelmed with the grey hotel that seemed so focused towards businessmen (and women) that it wasn’t that much fun to stay in.
However, that was then and this is now and after a short stay at the Hilton Bankside (below) I’m pleased to say that some Hotels do offer business guests all the stuff they need, but they can also be inspiring, welcoming and maybe most importantly, fun too.
I’ve been invited along to check out ‘The Agora’ and it’s what Hilton are modestly declaring ‘The best meeting room in the world’.
Named after the Ancient Greek term for ‘gathering place’ it’s been created in conjunction with Bompas & Parr – an agency who are experts in multi-sensory design.
So what does that mean exactly? Well, everything about the room is finely tuned to channel creativity – for instance, there’s a button on the wall that when pressed will flood the room with scented oxygen, there is atmospheric coloured lighting to suit the mood and magnetic walls to attach your teams notes and ideas on. The very expensive looking 75inch state-of-the-art touchscreen noteboard can be hooked up to any laptop (actually 4 laptops at once). It also has a private WiFi network and maybe most importantly a VERY impressive herbal tea selection.
The centre piece of the room is a custom-built table, called the Crux of Creativity. Its innovative design features leylines to important local sites such as the Globe and the Tate (see below). It’s so cool I think if they had negotiated Brexit in here they would’ve wrapped it up in a week and everyone would have been happy.
As for the Hotel itself, when we arrive on a cold night in November a warm welcome awaits. Our room, one of 292 (including 25 suites and one Penthouse) has a cosy-ness to it and with nice mood lighting and wood panelling it’s a fine place to be after a hard day brain-storming downstairs. The bed is huge and sooo comfy and the bathroom is luxuriously, er.. luxurious. It has the usual smart TV and movie rental options and 24hr room service goes without saying.
OXBO & The Distillery
After a quick freshen up we head downstairs to The Distillery (above). Situated on the site of an old essence factory there is table service and over 50 different kinds of Gin available, it’s just a shame I don’t like Gin that much. Thankfully the drinks menu has a really good selection of cocktails and local ales on it, they do an awesome Negroni too so all’s good. I noticed there are some smaller bites available to eat in here, but we’ve got a reservation at OBXO, the Hotels restaurant so we give them a miss and make our way in across the lobby. OBXO’s decor is a stylish cross between 60’s industrial chic and victorian elegance with big lampshades, wood panelling and soft lighting.
When it comes to the food, I always think that the smaller the menu is, the better the food and OXBO have created a neat and concise selection of Meat, Fish and Vegetable dishes that are also smaller in size. The waitress recommends to take two if you’re hungry, but if you have one it means you can still order the amazing baked cheesecake for dessert without having to do fifty laps of the swimming pool or an hour in the Hotel’s gym. Instead you can treat yourself to a massage or beauty treatment, of which there are plenty of choices.
In the end as it’s a special evening (and we’re starving) we do have two dishes each, but we share them equally and they are fab. My favourites are the Avocado and scallion maki with Atlantic prawns and roasted pepper emulsion and the Hake, Chorizo, apple jam, celeriac and apple velouté. The prices are sensible with the smaller main courses between £7 to £15, with most averaging around £8 or £9. It’s a pleasant restaurant, with a buzzy atmosphere and happy, attentive staff. I would be tempted to come back even if I wasn’t staying at the Hotel.
We head back to the room (did I mention the comfy bed?) and the next morning before we check out breakfast is waiting. It’s a combination of pastries, fruits and freshly made pancakes, omelettes, eggs to order, you know the sort of thing, basically everything you can eat and the hardest thing is deciding which combinations you would like. One thing I can see is the passion the staff have for fulfilling the guests needs and enthusiasm they have for the small details.
Overall Hilton Bankside is splendid place to stay in London with great transport links (Southwark bridge and station is 5 mins walk), not to mention the cool places to visit in the surrounding area (see below). Hiltons involvement in community projects, such as the recent ‘Find The Foxes‘ means there is heart behind it too. I’m sure John and Yoko would’ve approved.
The Hilton Bankside
2-8 Great Suffolk St, London
020 3667 5600
Also in the area…
The original Globe, built close by in Maiden Lane in 1599 was where William Shakespeare debuted many of his play and along with five others had a share in the theatre. Disaster struck when on the 29th June, 1613 it went up in flames after a special effect cannon set fire to the thatched roof during a performance. After a rather long period of time (400 odd years) Shakespeare’s Globe was rebuilt again in 1997 at its current location based on information available about the original design. With its standing room ‘pit’ for the less financially endowed and stripped back stage it is a unique and enthralling place to see a Shakespeare play almost exactly as it would have been all those years ago.
Go between now and Feb 2nd 2019 and you’ll get to see one of Shakespeare’s greatest hits, Macbeth.
21 New Globe Walk, London SE1 9DT
The Tate Modern
If you’re staying at the Hotel with kids and want to inspire them to look at the world in a different way head to the Tate Modern. Pieces by Roy Lichtenstein (above), Andy Warhol and Picasso are the stars, but there is lots of less well known art and media to enjoy too. The current installation in the main turbine hall is by Tania Bruguera and while visually more subtle than most that take up this huge space, it is certainly no less powerful. See video below.
The cafe at the top is also a great place to grab a coffee and a cake and enjoy some spectacular views over London. Free Entry.
Bankside, London SE1 9TG
Union St Cafe
If you’re just staying for one night at the Hilton Bankside, go and visit Oxbow the Hotels fab restaurant (see above), but if you’re staying any longer and are a fan of Gordon Ramsey his fantastic Union Street Cafe is just around the corner. As you would expect the food here is immaculate and the mostly Artisan Italian menu is actually fairly sensibly priced, I swear!
47-51 Great Suffolk St SE1 0BS
The Hilton Bankside
2-8 Great Suffolk St, London
020 3667 5600