10 September 2012

A Very Quick Trip To London

This was the shortest overseas trip with a hotel stay that I've ever done.  Three reason is that it was planned only about 6 weeks in advance, and I did not have any more vacation time to schedule for it.  I took the trip because there was a last-minute fare sale to fill business class seats.  So, I left on a Thursday night after work and returned on Sunday afternoon, giving me two nights in London.

The trip did not start off perfectly.  I had found out the day before that the plane had been switched from the refurbished 3-class 777 to the old configuration 777.  This meant that the seats in business class were not the nice lie-flat ones.  On the other hand, the older plane had 4 more first class seats than the newer plane (for which I was waitlisted).  As it turned out, about an hour before the flight, I was upgraded to first, which meant I ended up with a lie-flat seat anyway, although the entertainment system was the older one, the plane felt a little worn, and the seat was not as comfortable as either the first or business class on the newer plane.  But I did get my miles and upgrade fee back, which was welcomed.

Otherwise, I really like the night flight to London, as it makes it easy to sleep on the plane.  And, as this was a very short trip, I was not planning on adjusting too much to the London time zone.  I landed in time to try and get a walk-in seat to a restaurant which I was not able to secure a reservation (after trying for several weeks).  It's one of the hottest restaurants in London at the moment called Dabbous (booked through early next year).  I was not able to get in for dinner, but they said to try coming back at the end of the lunch service the next day and try then for a walk-in seat.

Since this trip was so short, I splurged on the room. I stayed at the Hilton Paddington, where I often stay when in London because of the location convenience, both in getting around town and getting to and from the airport.  However, I was tired of staying in the same type of room that they always give me.  And there were sale rates when I booked, so I signed up for one of the two tower suites.  These are multi-level suites.  Mine was called the Great Western Brunei Suite.  The entrance is on floor 5 (the hotel has six floors).  But this is only to the vestibule.
Entrance vestibule

  A glass staircase leads up to a level even with the roof and a door that goes out to the very large deck on a corner of the building.  There was a coat rack and hooks for all your outerwear to hang.

Doorway to the private roof terrace

 The structure on the left side of this photo and appearing below is the tower, which contained the rest of my room levels.  The terrace was outfitted with lots of furniture and lights, perfect for gatherings (unfortunately, I had none to host).
The bedroom level had a sitting area and a TV that pivoted to face the bed or the seats for viewing.

These are shots of the top level.  With the extra-high ceiling, it felt very spacious.

This was the spiral staircase between the bedroom and top levels.

On such a short stay, I had several options for what I would try to do.  Some of it depended upon the weather, which was not expected to be good.  However, the morning of my only full day was still dry (for the most part), so I set out to buy some olive oil from this electrical store that sells oil from Cyprus and Turkey.  It was a little bit of a walk from Angel Station, but I had been there before on a prior trip only to find it closed.  Since this was a Saturday morning, they were open.  They let me sample both the Cypriot and Turkish oils and I went with the Turkish olive oil for my purchases.  With that accomplished, I headed back to try for a table at lunch at Dabbous.

I got there at 1:45.   It was just starting to rain, so the timing was good.  They said to check back at 2pm.  I did and they found a table for me, so I was very happy to have the chance to test out the restaurant on this visit.  I could see why the restaurant was so difficult to book.  It's a small space, and the food is distinct for what is currently offered around London, especially for the price.  This was the menu posted outside.  There were several things I wanted to try.  But as it turns out, they only do a set lunch with fewer choices for lunch.

Industrial chic decor

 The food was simply prepared, meant to accentuate the seasonal ingredients. I skipped the meat course for two fish courses. and this first dessert (I was able to order an extra one) was a peach served in a seasoned peach juice sauce.

With lunch accomplished, I headed back to enjoy my hotel room some more and stay out of the weather.  I rested up, planned some future travel (a trip on one of United's 787 Dreamliner planes).  Late on, the weather let up a little and I strolled around a bit.

The next day, I had a late breakfast and still had time to enjoy some sunny weather on the roof terrace before an early afternoon flight back home.  except for a very delayed luggage delivery, everything went smoothly on the return trip . . . just in time, as my next scheduled trip would take me back to Europe on Wednesday evening.

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