Win dinner for two in London
PUBLISHED: 14:25 28 March 2015 | UPDATED: 14:25 28 March 2015
Fancy a night away without the hassle of airports? The hop on a train from Kent to London and let this luxury Hilton take the strain - and there's a chance to win dinner for two as well
One can argue that from most places in Kent you are only an hour or so from London, so why spend a night in a hotel and make it a day trip? My response? Why endure a rude awakening at some unpleasant hour, to rush for a train while carrying all your personal effects for the day, arriving tired and flustered before you’ve even begun?
It’s so much nicer to treat yourself to an overnight stay in the city, and to enjoy comfort and luxury. We booked into the Conrad London St James, recently taken over by the upmarket line of the Hilton group. Popular with British and foreign tourists alike, it lies within the eponymous royal and political area of London, imbued with stories of power, wealth and influence.
We arrived early evening, giving us the opportunity to enjoy London at its best – as a familiar tourist with time on our side.
On arrival we were warmly welcomed; Mario was genuinely interested in our visit, one of the cleaning staff couldn’t be more helpful in giving us directions when we went the wrong way in search of our room.
Being relatively modern, the Conrad doesn’t have the individual charm of a boutique hotel, but it makes up for this by being something of an art gallery.
Throughout there are individually commissioned works of art, a defining feature of the Conrad brand. Public areas are tastefully decorated, almost soaked in silver leaf and clean, cool colours.
And it has all that you want from a quality hotel: clean, plush sheets covering comfortable, princessy mattresses, marble bathrooms, quality refreshment facilities in every room. If you’re really pushing the boat out, then the 113m2 penthouse suite has its own kitchenette for the house chef to prepare and serve your food straight to the dining table for the ultimate in room service.
The St James’ hidden-in-plain view secrets were revealed to us by hotel staff; there are plans for a self-guided tour, but the well-briefed team can tell you about anything that catches your eye. I’ll leave some secrets for you to find, but as a teaser, I enjoyed how the ‘fingerprint’ carpet pays clever homage to nearby Scotland Yard.
For the digitally disposed, a Conrad app offers a remote concierge service, giving you options such as choosing which range of products you want in your bathroom before you arrive. Or perhaps a request to have a bottle of bubbly waiting in the room.
As London tradition commands, the Conrad offers afternoon tea, complete with free-flowing Champagne. It also quietly affirms a commitment to localism, from the Meantime London Lager in the minibar to the British menu in the restaurant.
Dining in cool American Style
After a day of pounding the pavements, and making the most of the city’s shops, museums and galleries, it is definitely worth booking a table at the Blue Boar restaurant. Different in style to the rest of the hotel, this is a masculine, heavyset room, specialising in smoked-in-house meats and fish.
We were presented with a delicious potato and onion bread while we made our selections. I started with a chicory, walnut and blue cheese salad while Mrs A chose the smoked salmon. The latter exemplified the talking point of this restaurant – the in-house ‘Bradley Smoker.’ The salmon was treacle cured and 12 hours brined before receiving a full six hours in the smoker. Served with porter bread, it was both delicate and full of flavour.
Mrs A then opted for succulent roast cod served with roast artichokes and roscoff onions while I enjoyed a mushroom Wellington, which came plated with black cabbage and some fantastic kale. The Wellington was stuffed with a mighty morsel mix, all earthy and woody and cooked in a superbly heady Madeira sauce.
For pudding, we requested a couple of smaller servings of several options, and two spoons. This gave us a chocolate and nutmeg tart, served with clementines and stem ginger ice cream; a cherry mousse with chocolate sponge and marzipan ice cream; and, the quintessential sticky toffee pudding with honeycomb ice cream.
The winner was the fabulous sticky toffee pudding and our waitress told us since the restaurant opened it hasn’t left the menu; nor should it ever be allowed to.
You can continue your evening with drinks in the buzzy Blue Boar Bar, patronised by a hip, well-heeled crowd, or perhaps in the quieter Emmiline’s Bar.
Served in the Blue Boar Restaurant (or executive lounge), breakfast is as you would expect from an American-owned hotel; attentive service and generous portions. My coffee cup never made it below half full before being topped up.
After the evening’s feastings and a hearty breakfast, we were considering a visit to the gym, honestly we were. We managed to sneak a peak, and can report there is a small, but well kitted-out gym.
The Conrad St James makes for a great place to use as a base for a weekend in London. Be warned, however. By the time you’ve reasoned with yourself to get out of the magnificent bed, taken a long, luxurious shower (or bath), and enjoyed a drawn-out breakfast at leisure, there may not be much left of the day before it is time for afternoon tea… and naturally, the Conrad does that rather well too.
Kent Life has teamed up with The Conrad St James to offer one lucky reader dinner for two (with wine) in the Blue Boar Restaurant at The Conrad St James to the value of £120.
To be in with a chance of winning, just answer this simple question:
The nearest palace to Conrad St James is:
The Archbishop’s Palace
Write your answer on a postcard and send it to: Conrad St James Competition, Kent Life, Archant Kent, 81 Station Road, Ashford TN23 1PP. Don’t forget to include your name, address and a daytime telephone number on your entry.
Alternatively, you can send your answer in by email. Please send it to email@example.com, with Conrad St James Competition in the subject line, including your name, address and a daytime telephone number.
Closing date: 24 April 2015
The editor’s decision is final. Travel to and from the venue, plus any other expenses incurred are not included in the prize. Usual Archant competition rules apply.
The prize is a three-course table d’hôte dinner for two in the Blue Boar Restaurant, valid for six months from when the winner is announced, terms and conditions apply, subject to availability.
The hotel will send out a voucher to the winner when they are announced
Find out more
Conrad London St. James
22-28 Broadway, London SW1H 0BH
Trains and coaches to London run regularly from across Kent, including Tunbridge Wells, Cantebury, Folkestone and Maidstone.
Book online at www.nationalrail.co.uk or www.nationalexpress.com