Weddings. Oh how equally stressful and special you feel on the day. With getting married way up in Edinburgh this time a month ago, it’s time to talk about the practicalities. The planning was pretty much done, and the engagement shoot was done too.
One such practicality is where we’re were going to stay once we landed back in London, because home in Essex is a good 35 minutes away from the city. We knew we had the option of heading home straight away, to the waiting cat and his destruction, but after a five hour train journey carrying everything from left-over wedding cake to my dress, we thought we’d treat ourselves to a luxury hotel for the night.
We chose the Athenaeum, located right on Piccadilly and a stone’s throw from The Ritz (dahlink) for a few reasons.
Firstly, it’s lux enough for a wedding night hotel in London. It has a garden on the wall, is how luxury this hotel is.
Secondly, it’s special enough for a bride and groom and friendly to dogs, which means they’re friendly to people too (we did not have a dog).
Thirdly, free minibar.
So what did we think of our first night in London as a married couple?
The Athenaeum Hotel Review
Upon arrival the doorman grabbed all of our bags and helped us weary travellers into reception. A friendly chap greeted us, and after a quick tour of the ground floor whisky bar – one of the best stocked whisky bars in London no less, with a mere 270 bottles – we signed the forms and were given a key card. No wake up call thanks, and no Sunday papers needed.
Our bags were to be brought up by the porter so we ambled upstairs ready for some well earned rest.
And what a room. There were mirrors everywhere, from the mirror on the back of the door in the bathroom (yep, ever seen yourself on the loo? I HAVE) to the wardrobe and headboards. It screamed luxury, opulence, and expense.
The bed was gorgeously comfy, and little amenities such as slippers placed right by the night stand and even a brown paper bag to carry shopping home made us feel right at home.
Mr W has asked me to include the iron in the room description as being the best iron he’s ever used. It was a full sized Morphy Richards steam technological contraption with a extra hot tip or some such technology which he was thrilled with.
The room, though, had so many little quirks. There was a display of red toy solders neatly lined in a row on one side of the bed, and a three-way holographic picture on the other. Books and magazines were provided as well as two alarm clocks, and Nespresso pods for coffee and did I mention the mini bar? Featuring pear and peach purée, Kit Kats, Mars Bars and other treats? All complimentary and so handy.
For London, the 26m² you get is larger than most hotels with room to unpack and have coffee by the table, but with the floor to ceiling bay window looking out over green trees, the room felt so much bigger than it was. Views from the upper floors would be absolutely gorgeous I’d say.
There were only two issues. Plug sockets were seriously lacking, with only one by the floor and one under the telly. Considering all the mirrors in abundance, this plug socket was as far from the mirror as possible, so I had to do my hair from a distance. Secondly is the light console. It’s really clever once you get the hang of it, and a lovely feature to roll out in a hotel of such calibre. But after dinner when you’re laying in bed trying to figure our how to turn off the lights without the air con fan being switched on at the same time and what is this a dimmer why oh why, it gets a bit tedious.
We slept so well though, with only a little bit of noise from neighbouring rooms and the traffic from the road below. But hey, this is London. If you’re looking for quiet then head to a village in Lincolnshire.
We confirmed our time at reception, and after getting washed and dressed, we were ready for our first meal as a married couple. Scary, but what a setting for the occasion.
They offer a taster menu for £99 per person, which includes food, cocktails, wine and liquors. We thought this was such a great deal, with items on the menu including scallop gazpacho with a gin cocktail, goat’s cheese paired with a South African wine, followed by sorbet and fish and quail and cheesecake and fruit and cheese. The meal is finished with a Cognac, a coffee and rose truffles. Luxurious, and well worth it’s price tag. We decided to go a la carte – after such a long week of eating and drinking the taster menu seemed a bit too much for our stomachs.
Lobster Medallion for me and a Ham Hock Terrine for Mr W were ordered and promptly served. I wasn’t 100% sold on my starter, it was very, very fishy and although the lobster was cooked to perfection, the bisque was too much. I knew I should have gone for the Make Your Own Seasonal Salad. Mr W loved his terrine though, and the egg it was served with looked scrumptious.
Mains were a 250g rib eye steak (which we forgot to order sides for, but the waiter brought some out so quickly) and broad bean risotto with quails egg. Now, the risotto was lovely, but the steak was something else. It was cooked to perfection. Literally, the best steak I’ve ever eaten, and Mr W (the fussiest man in existence) agreed. It was a beautiful cut of meat and so delicious.
We were far too full for desserts, so after asking to waiter to bring the rest of the wine up to our room we retired for the night with full bellies and happy as clams.
The restaurant was lovely, and the ambiance was so relaxed for such a high end place. There was a couple on a first date on the table next to us (her Louboutins were FAR too high for a first date imo) and a couple walked in excited to try the food – they’d ensured they had all the chef’s accolades beforehand. There was a table of five ladies and gents clearly staying for business… it was such a lovely mix of people.
The meal was with compliments of the hotel, but would have cost us both £85, for two starters, two mains and two sides.
We filled out our choices, me opting for pancakes and bacon, with cereal and some fresh fruit salad with yoghurt, and Mr W choosing a Full English as standard. We set our delivery time for fairly early at 8:45 (is it wrong I wanted to go home early to see the cat?). The form was hung on the doorknob, and we drifted to sleep.
Right on cue the next morning the dude arrived with a trolley full of our food. He said his goodbyes and we got stuck in, hoping it tasted as divine as it looked. And after the food the night before, it was only natural we’d think so. (That steak…)
Sadly, it really wasn’t that good. Mr W’s order was missing beans and sausage (two key components of a Full English) and my pancakes were just that. Literally small pancakes with two small rashers of bacon and a small jug of syrup. It was so, so stingy considering the price paid. My Earl Grey tea had been sitting there for a while as it tasted bitter and was undrinkable which was really disappointing.
The carrot juice I ordered was great though, as was the fresh fruit salad, the pastries and Mr W’s enormous pot of coffee. But we were a bit let down at how everything else is five star, except this. It may have been chef’s off morning, but I’d recommend walking down to Pret and sorting out something there.
For wow factor, and luxury in London it looks great. But there was a little something missing (like sausages).
This place is as central as you can get, and nothing is too much effort. Granted it’s not the Ritz, but it’s a slice of real luxury in an already very luxurious location. The room was gorgeous and you can tell a lot of money’s been spent on even the more basic of the rooms. The mirrors were unique and such a gorgeous touch. Sure, the breakfast was a let-down and I’m gutted I didn’t go for the steak at dinner, but the hotel was the perfect place for our first night as a married couple.
Definitely ask for a park-view room and, if you fancy it, go for the taster menu and settle down in the gorgeous bar downstairs in the evening.