Melia Pro

Published on Friday, October 13, 2017

Inside and out

Rachel Roberts checks into the Park Plaza London Park Royal and learns that sometimes appearances can be deceiving.

First impressions: The general manager gives me a tour of this four-star hotel and he could be showing me around his own home, he's that proud. The modern hotel, situated in West London, is still relatively box fresh after only opening its doors to guests in late June this year. The exterior didn't rock my world (sorry, GM), although the minimalist grey panels were jollied along by the futuristic warm blue lights used to frame bedroom windows and to add slithers of illumination around the rest of the six-storey rectangular building. However, the underwhelming outside - you really can't judge a book by its cover - faded from memory on stepping into the lobby. Someone had a lot of fun kitting this place out with Pop Art influences. From the bright red plastic-effect desk with the block letters spelling out 'reception' (no more gormless 'where's reception?' requests) to the silver stools that resemble 'mini-me' versions of the Easter Island statues, the space pulses with a welcoming, fresh vibe.

Location: The hotel's website is honest when it describes the hotel as 'perfectly positioned for London tours'. It's around 40 minutes on the Piccadilly Line from central London; but thanks to the hotel being two minutes from Park Royal underground station, at least you don't have the 'mare of dragging your luggage for miles when you do arrive. And somewhat unexpectedly, the answer to one of the universe's great mysteries is to be found here. Boden, online purveyor of great quality (and affordable) cashmere cardigans, adored by middle-class women of a certain age, has an actual shop. Who knew? It's somewhat random - a little like the location for the hotel, which makes for an interesting mix of clientele. Business types here for conferences in the nearby business park at multinationals like Diageo (the world's largest producer of spirits), rub shoulders with football and pop-act fans here to support their team or band at Wembley arena (just over three miles away) and tourists who are happy not to be in the heart of the capital. Handily, the hotel corridors are carpeted with abstract interpretations of the London skyline - including the London Eye - so they won't feel too far away from the action. But there are other consolations, with the charming Kew Gardens and the shopping mecca of Westfield London fairly close by.

Facilities: The small gym looked perfectly functional but it felt like a tick-the-box exercise to help achieve four stars. Seems the space has been used for the 84 sq metres of function rooms which can be combined in different ways.

Bedrooms: There are 212 rooms, 120 modern superior and 92 studio rooms, with additional space and sofa beds for families/close friends. The glowing amber strip light bearing the room's number is a lovely touch: it's like a little runway with you as the star. The futuristic feel continues inside with a clever bedside gizmo which sets all of the lighting into different 'moods', saving guests a tedious round of 'Name that light switch'.

For families: Entertainment for little people is limited, so you'll have to take them to the retail 'park' opposite. Don't fret: they won't have to play with Topps Tiles - there's also a VUE cinema, a bowling alley and fast-food outlets. Or blow all of that out of the water with a trip to Warner Bros Studio's Making of Harry Potter, a short journey away.

Wining and dining: If you're staying when the weather is good, you'll experience the West Way Bar & Restaurant at its best: the glass walls disappear for open-air eating and drinking. Or order room service and choose from old-school delights like Artic Roll and home-made Scotch Eggs.

Highs: The super-friendly and genuinely welcoming staff, plus the stylish understatement of the bar.

Lows: The rather desolate and depressing retail park across the way that is stuck in a mid-Eighties time warp. The well-known fast-food joint was so rundown and empty, the one other customer at the counter asked if the place was closing down.

Lead-in price: £109 for a double room.


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