A year of lockdown has taken a toll on the capital with many residents choosing to migrate. The great COVID exodus brought a fall in house prices, making some properties a more palatable investment. With a view to strike whilst the iron is hot, I checked in to The May Fair, A Radisson Collection Hotel and used it as a base whilst I carried out my research on potential investments.
Booking was a bit of a faff, I originally booked an upgraded room through Hotels.com at the 5-star Radisson Blu Edwardian, Hampshire. A couple of hours later I received an email stating I had been moved to the 4-star Radisson Blu Edwardian, Mercer Street (review here). Having no email to respond to, I called Radisson directly to ask why I had been downgraded from a 5* hotel to a 4*. They confirmed that only The Radisson Blu Edwardian, Mercer Street and The May Fair, A Radisson Collection were open. Radisson apologised for the downgrade and instead transferred me into the 5* May Fair.
The name of the hotel gives it away… wedged perfectly between the Queen’s house (Buckingham Palace), Hyde Park and the high-end fashion boutiques on Bond Street you’re in one of the most desirable locations in the city.
You’ll want to either be taking the underground or an Uber as parking will run you £46 a night. Green Park underground station is a brisk 2 min walk to the hotel. From Heathrow, it’ll take roughly an hour and cost £3.30, the good news is you don’t have to make any changes as the Picadilly line runs directly to it. If you prefer a quicker more comfortable journey (read not having to lug suitcases around) an Uber will run you £25-30 and will take roughly 40 mins.
If you are driving through, I guess my tip would be to just park directly in front of the hotel. Yes, you will certainly get a parking ticket but the ticket is only £14 more than paying for parking and you have the convenience of not having far to walk to your car.
Checking in was all done digitally and if I’m honest, it was a bit of a faff. I’m used to dealing with matters by email so when a text comes through from a number I don’t recognise saying I need to check-in via a link, I’m not too keen on clicking said link. With an email you can see the senders information so you know whether it’s legit or not, you can’t do that with a text. None the less, I follow the link and all looks above board in regards to the web address, etc.
Using the digital check-in, I get to see all the floors and what rooms are available on each floor. After selecting a room on the 7th floor I proceed to confirm my booking where it asks me to enter my credit card details to pre-authorise a card. I begrudgingly type away and press submit. A message comes up saying do not close the page or refresh until you receive a confirmation message… I’m sat there for a good 10-15 mins waiting for said confirmation with the suspicion that I’ve just been scammed. I’m not worried because I’ve paid using AmEx and they’re good with fraud but I gave up. No confirmation of anything.
When I finally got to the hotel, they confirm that I had indeed checked in already. This was after noticing that there was no one there to open the door for me or ask if I needed help with my luggage. With first impressions going a long way, things weren’t looking good.
Premium Collection Room
As a general rule of thumb, I try to live life by the following equation, Expectation – Reality = Happiness. In other words, if you expect something to be very good and it isn’t, you aren’t going to be happy. If you expect something to be poor, but it is good then you will be happy.
A 5-star hotel in Mayfair understandably sets one’s expectations high and if it was anywhere else I’d say the 39 square meter room was good. When you think that rates for the room start at £329 a night, however, good just doesn’t cut the mustard and you’re left feeling underwhelmed.
Every room with the exception of the basic “Collection Superior Room” and the Family Rooms come equipped with a king-size bed. Not a single superking in any of the 408 rooms, that includes the suites! When you’re used to a super king, you do notice the slightly smaller size but the comfort factor is WOW! The Vispring mattress is firm enough to support your body whilst maintaining enough cushion so it feels soft. The high thread count linens are smooth and have a warm feel to them. The pillows are nice and firm however if you prefer a soft pillow you are lacking that choice. Most hotels offer 2 sets of pillows, one firm set and one soft set. The duvet is a little on the heavier side but it breathes well so you don’t get too hot through the night.
Onto the Sicilian Marble clad bathroom and I’ll start with the negatives to get them out the way. If it wasn’t for the stupid plug in the bath that Raddisson love to use (stand on it in the shower and see how painful it is) the biggest problem would be no underfloor heating. No one likes having cold feet, so much so that the term “cold feet” has a negative connotation. So why would you have a tiled floor which is naturally cold and not have heating underneath it?
Another slight bug bearer was the beautiful mirrors which pretty much wrap around the room… Have a hot shower for 5 mins and you can’t see a thing due to condensation. Radisson either needs to fit a much better extractor fan or have heated mirrors.
Now the bath is a little on the small side, read that as 2 of you aren’t taking a bath together. For one though, it’s fine and Christ does it go hot if you want to lobster. Don’t expect to be waiting around for too long either as it fills within a matter of minutes. The shower on the other hand is a complete disaster. Yes, you get good pressure and whilst the head isn’t the largest or a waterfall, you can adjust it. The issue is the constant fluctuation in temperatures, from boiling hot to cool and back to hot again for no apparent reason.
The toileteries are provided by Ren which is common throughout the Radisson Blu Edwardian brand. You get your standard nail file, shower caps, soap, etc but a complimentary tooth brush and paste would be appreciated should you happen to forget yours. It would save a few £ from having to buy one in the Sainsburys over the road.
Another quirk is that the wardrobe pictured above, is in the bathroom? It’s a big wardrobe, I don’t see why they didn’t have a stud wall and have a walk in wardrobe and bathroom separate. None the less, they didn’t. What is nice is the fact they use actual coat hangers. In a lot of hotels, the trend is to not have the hook that goes over the rail, which in my opinion is short sighted.
There’s everything you’d expect such as a safe, ironing board, trouser press, etc. The hair dryer is in a handy location and I have to take a moment to mention the dressing gowns, slippers and umbrella. The dressing gowns are so soft, the slippers are not just soft, but are elastic so mould comfortably to your foot and the umbrella, a dof of the cap for having one in every room. London’s the perfect place to use an umbrella when it rains as there is seldom any wind to make handling an umbrella a rigorous task.
Deciding that the Premium Room Collection was uninspiring I decided to pay for an upgrade to a studio suite. Now I had booked this stay at the 5* Radisson Blu Edwardian and had paid extra for a nicer room. Having been transferred I was in a nicer room at The May Fair, I was due a complimentary upgrade though. Being a Gold member with Hotels.com one of the perks is a room upgrade where available at any VIP property (You can read about that here). All of Radisson Blu Edwardian properties fall into Hotel.com’s VIP category and yet I had to pay for the upgrade.
Though the green was a little on the garish side, the room was substantially bigger. It wasn’t without its problems though, take the right lamp. It not working is a bit of a let down for a 5* hotel but the reason why it wasn’t working isn’t the reason to mention it. The exposed bare wires leading from the plug on the other hand, well, that’s just dangerous.
Another issue which in any normal times isn’t really acceptable, but given “Hands, face, space” is a thing then its abhorrent. Cleanliness. It was clear as day that the room hadn’t been cleaned after the last guests previous stay. I’m talking about the simple process of cleaning, never mind the whole disinfect everything process.
There wasn’t a chance I was staying in this suite which I had paid to be upgraded to.
What made matters worse was the potential. Take the bathroom, huge! A large freestanding bath more than big enough for 2. A walk in shower, again big enough for 2 and no though of standing on the brutal plug.
Full wrap around mirrors to amplify the illusion of space and even a lounge chair in the corner for chilling out on.
The bathroom is what excelled suite 501 to the point where I could overlook the garish green and recommend the room. But stuff that’s just plain dangerous, well that’s a no go.
Studio Suite 2
Finally then, I settled on room 715, another Studio suite. This one was at least clean and didn’t seem to have any problems.
The bedding was the same as previously mentioned though I will mention the slight gap in the blinds. Now the sun is coming up earlier, there is a good bit of light leakage which if you’re a light sleeper, will wake you up. The sofa is fairly comfy if you’re on your own, but a bit of a squeeze for 2, especially if you plan on keeping the cushions on.
An issue that took a night of restless sleep to figure out. For some reason, the mattress doesn’t butt up against the headboard. Instead, there’s a fair-sized chasm, I’d suggest using a pillow to bridge the gap.
The TV and connectivity were great, this was however after I requested a new remote control. For some reason, the back of the remote was screwed down so I couldn’t replace the batteries, do people actually steal batteries out of hotel tv remotes? I thought that was just on sketch shows. Digression aside, the TV had Chromecast so you could cast all your fave apps like Netflix, etc onto the big screen by following the simple step by step guide. If you’re wanting the basic channels, for some reason it’s a no go. It has a few Sky Channels but with no service? no chance you’ll even be able to catch up with the basics such as news, never mind the latest episode of Line Of Duty.
Another thing which I didn’t think I used in hotels but apparently do, a Bluetooth sound system. Or even hard-wired, there was nothing of the sort. You could connect to Bluetooth via the TV but who wants to listen to music through a tv?
Due to restaurants and everything being closed, it’s in-room dining only. Do you know what? the table may look small but a Deliveroo feast was effortlessly consumed on it. That and a good 5-6 hours of editing images, certainly not the best for posture but I gave up on that a long time ago. It was nice to have some hard-wired ethernet ports too, yes there’s free wifi which seems stable and quick but for important data, it’s always best to hardwire.
Side note, there’s a mini bar but it’s empty and not plugged in or switched on. If you want to refrigerate something, such as say champagne for closing out on a property, you have to request one. Oh and ice buckets, there’s a station on every floor but there are no buckets either in your room or in the ice machine rooms. You also have to request them.
On the subject of plugging in, I counted 9 double sockets and a few single sockets around the suite. All in well thought out locations and all easy to access. I’ll always check the plug socket situation out as the majority of people nowadays live plugged into a wall socket.
This is what made me accept Studio Suite 715, the huge walk-in wardrobe with built-in makeup counter at the end. Floor to ceiling mirrors, beautiful quality light at the end, plenty of storage and easy access. It’s a well thought out area and brings a certain glamourous feel, the kind you expect when you say you’re staying in a suite on Mayfair.
Inevitably there was a trade-off and that was giving up an amazing bathroom for an average one. As you can see the bath isn’t too large, only just fitting one, never mind 2.
It’s brought back somewhat by his and hers sinks. Again though, plenty of mirrors, none were heated so the shower soon misted them all up…
The walk-in shower is a nice upgrade over standing in the bath but as you read earlier, you’ll be getting both scalded then chilled as the temperature randomly fluctuates.
Despite Radisson’s best efforts teaming up with REN for the large selection of toiletries, nothing can solve the hard water problem southerners face. You can guarantee dandruff! Radisson isn’t to blame for this, it’s just all London water is abysmal. If you disagree with that, you are wrong. Have yourself a glass of water from Ennerdale Lake, and get back to me when you’re educated.
The ambience that would ordinarily be felt having a hotel lobby between a bar and a restaurant was missing. About as much atmosphere as a morgue which is sad to see and be a part of. Sitting there in a rather comfy seat as I wait for my Uber I’m thinking to my self “has the soul been ripped out of London”. With occupancy levels at 20%, I guess the answer is yes.
That’s it then, no gym, spa, pool, restaurant, bar or even cinema review (they have a 201 seat proper private cinema). All of which I am lead to believe are amazing. The area is beautiful and perfectly located but with the Superior Room Collection starting at £324 a night and the Studio Suites starting at £460 a night I really can not recommend a stay. Sure if you can find it at a severely discount rate (which I very much doubt) it may be worth a gamble. What I can’t figure out is, why was it so bad? Like I mentioned earlier, they are running at 20% occupancy, so there is no reason for anything to be wrong, never mind the list of issues I encountered. I had to pay for an upgrade which should have been complimentary according to Hotels.com. The icing on the cake, there was no cake… I turned a big x0 during my stay and it wasn’t even acknowledged. I’ve been in a 3* cheap hotel in Spain and they have acknowledged it was my birthday with a mini (probably the size of my hand) birthday cake with a candle on the top. I did get a handwritten card and a bar of M&M chocolate as an apology for everything that was wrong, but it doesn’t nearly make up for the hotel failing even from a safety standpoint.