It’s been a full week since I last blogged and a lot has happened. I headed off to London last weekend for a two-week long business trip. Before I left, I blogged about how excited I was for my first stay at a Hilton hotel in more than year.
The London Hilton Hyde Park
When I made my reservation, I submitted a request for early check-in. I arrived at the hotel around 11am and checked in. The check-in process was easy. I was informed that my room was ready, but because some sort of inspections was taking place, he couldn’t give me the keys yet. The person checking me in said it wouldn’t be too long and he’d bring the key to me in bar area. After about an hour, I went back to the front desk to enquire about the room. The same person who had checked me in, and said it wouldn’t be long, said it should only be another few minutes so I waited by reception where there a very few seats. Twenty minutes passed, I inquired again. He said the room still wasn’t ready and that he’d check w/housekeeping to see when it would be done. I then watched him help 5 other guests before sitting back down at the reception desk. I asked him again if he had called housekeeping and he said he had. I knew that wasn’t true because I watched him stand in front of me helping the other guests. He hadn’t picked up the phone, used a walkie-talkie or anything to reach housekeeping. I asked him to please call and he said he would talk to his colleague. He leaned over and to ask another person about the room. The other person said that my room hadn’t been cleaned yet. What? Wait a minute, the guy who checked me in said it was ready, but being inspected. So what was it? I asked to speak with a manager.
The duty manager, Aaron, came to help. I explained that I wasn’t upset that the room wasn’t ready, or that I couldn’t check-in early, but that I was getting very frustrated by the different stories. Was the room clean? Not clean? Was there an inspection? I just wanted an honest answer. Aaron offered me a room right away, but suggested that I check it out to see if I wanted to stay in it. I went up to the room and it was laughable. There was a twin bed, a small TV stand w/TV, a shower (and I think someone over 5′ 5” would have had a hard time showering in it) sink and toilet. It was smaller than my first college dorm room. I went back down to reception and spoke to Aaron. He said he could have another room ready in about an hour. I thanked him and said I’d come back after getting some lunch. When I came back from lunch, a room was ready. Turns out, I ended up switching rooms 3 times until they found me a room that was ½ way decent. The first room had stained floors and a bathtub that was rusty. I needed a shower so I requested a room change. The next room was okay, except that the internet barely worked. On a business trip, internet is essential, so I had to request another room change. The next room was much better except that there was a crumpled up towel next to the sink and soap in the soap dish. There was also a candy wrapper and some stains on the couch in the room.
A colleague staying here as well described lying in the bed like lying on a table. The phone in one of my rooms was missing ½ its keys. It was really only funny because the bellman said “If you need anything press the button for reception” and the reception key was missing (luckily you could get them by dialing zero as well.) When trying to come up with good things to say about the hotel, I think my colleague put it best –”the size of the bath towels is awesome and the heated towel rack is great.”
Overall, I’ve been very disappointed with my experience here. I’ve had the opportunity to speak with the duty manger and GM several times since checking in earlier this week. I’ve found the management of the hotel to be hospitable and eager to make things right. But it seems that they’re working against the physical condition of the hotel and their own team. The hotel is old and in need of upkeep. The rooms are small and run-down. The non-management staff is less than helpful and doesn’t really want to seem to solve problems – they’d rather leave it to mangers to deal with.
I’ll have a full review on the London Hilton Hyde Park in my London: Week 2 trip report.
London’s Borough Market
If you’ve never been to London’s Borough Market it’s worth a visit when you’re in London. The market is full of vendors selling fresh foods, flowers, and local fare. The smells are marvelous and at times overwhelming (there are some very unusual cheese vendors!) You can find every type of food you’d ever want and a free sample of just about everything.
Mozzarella in a savory pastry with pesto.
Don’t these look delicious!
That’s a lot of cheese.
I love Nobu. There’s just no way around it, it’s one of my favorites. I was very excited to share a meal there with some colleagues who had never been. We started with some sushi – yellow tail and scallions, spicy tuna, salmon roll and soft crab roll. The rolls were delicious, especially the yellow tail. Then we had some rock shrimp tempura with three dipping sauces – a ponzu citrus sauce, a spicy aioli and a mildly spicy habanero pepper sauce. It’s one of my favorites and it was just as good as I had remembered. We had some great tempura vegetables – the highlight was the pumpkin. The absolute highlight of the dinner was the anticucho style Tea-smoked lamb with ancho chili sauce. It was one of the most amazing dishes I’ve ever had. It was the first time I’ve had the dish and I can promise it won’t be the last. I’m hooked!
One thing you might not expect at Nobu are outrageous desserts. I’ve always been a fan and this visit wasn’t any different. We had the chocolate bento box – a flourless chocolate fondant cake with green tea ice cream; a fuji apple crumble – seared fuji apples with sesame oil, miso salt, toffee, peanut butter ice cream, and coconut crumble and the warm chocolate santandagi – warm chocolate filled donuts with caramelized pistachio and almond ice cream. The fuji apple crumble is absolutely amazing.
Nobu has locations around the world, if you’re ever near one, check it out!
Make sure you check out next week’s post – London Week 2 for a full report on the Hilton Hyde Park and the Hilton Green Park where I check in next.