Built in 1909, the Strand Palace Hotel has survived two world wars, witnessed 26 prime ministers, and observed more protests than possible to count (Trafalgar Square is around the corner). The 20th-century whitewashed behemoth was also a popular haunt for service members during WW2 – it was an official rest and recuperation residence by the U.S. Though things have changed significantly since the old days – you have to pay a couple of hundred a night quid now rather than five shillings and sixpence like the day it opened – the hotel still retains the palatial charm of yesteryear. And although the four-star grand dame had a multimillion-pound facelift recently, you’ll still find plenty of art deco features that made it so special in the first place.
The area 9/10
Close to Trafalgar Square and the tourist-packed streets of Covent Garden, the Strand Palace Hotel sits in the heart of London. Some of London’s most prominent theatres, like The Royal Opera House and The London Coliseum, are a short stroll away, as are the banks of the Thames. The National History Museum, Churchill’s War Rooms and Buckingham Palace are easily accessible from the hotel by tube. While must-visit, Gordon’s Wine Bar, thought to be the oldest in London, is under a ten-minute walk away. Transport links are easily accessible, thanks to the Covent Garden Tube station nearby. Arrivals to the capital by train at St Pancras or King’s Cross will also be able to take a 15-minute or so tube journey. The closest airport is London City, which takes around 30 minutes (on a good day) by cab.
The digs – 8/10
The Strand Palace Hotel is a huge hotel, with rooms shooting off every corridor. Maps and signs could be made more straightforward, but once you find your way to your suite, you’ll be glad you did. All 785 rooms offer high comfort levels – think huge TVs you can link to your smartphone, coffee machines and lavish bathrooms. The one-button shower system (a godsend) should be the standard in all new hotels to save the faff. Perhaps to brighten some internal-facing rooms, designers opted for light hues and pops of colourful artwork. Internal views aren’t exciting (when are they?) but mean you’ll get less noise from the streets. There’s ample space for luggage and an iron, robes and slippers. Sadly, there are no desks, which seems a slight oversight given the number of people working remotely. Though bed linens are plush, mattresses are comfy, and blackout curtains do their job well.
Style, staff & stuff – 8/10
Set in a tall whitewashed corner building with an elegant 20th Century façade, the Strand Palace Hotel cuts an impressive figure from the street. You’ll be guided to reception by opulent circular monochrome light fixtures hovering above crisp marble floors. The black, white, gold and grey palette, combined with curved seating and bar tops, is a nod to the hotel’s art deco past. Just off the lobby, you’ll find Haxell’s restaurant, which continues the monochrome 20s theme. Elsewhere, Haxell’s tearoom is different – burgundy, white with lashings of gold furnishings, nature prints and flowers galore. Staff offer bottled water when you come in late at night and are happy to help with reservations and tickets for shows. There’s a basic gym with weights, running machines and treadmills, but no swimming pool and Wi-Fi is complimentary.
Food & drink – 8/10
Haxell’s tearoom serves afternoon tea and light bites from 12 pm – 5 pm, while Haxell’s restaurant and bar, located off the lobby, serves British cuisine (burgers, fish etc.) until 9 pm. Breakfast isn’t included (there’s a £20 fee) at the Strand Palace Hotel, a shame given rooms come at such a premium. However, it is a substantial offering. Hot and cold options are available from the buffet, from eggs, bacon and sausages to cereals, cold cuts, fruit and fresh juices.
- Ask for a street-facing room to feel like you’re in central London. Inward facing rooms don’t have views but are slightly quieter.
Rooms at the Strand Palace Hotel are available from £100 a night.