Opposite the entrance to the train station, so ideal for anyone arriving via the rails. It’s a 10-minute walk to the city centre. I’d avoid the subways that connect City Road to the city itself, especially at night – there are overground alternatives.
From the traditional Victorian air of the Queen Hotel, to the recent addition of the Kings’ Suites, where you’ll find slick but comfortable bedrooms (warm colours and suede as opposed to the all-white décor one would normally label “slick”), there’s something for everyone. It’s a £30 upgrade to stay in the two-year-old suites – I think it’s worth every penny, but, if you’re more of a traditionalist, stick with the Queen.
In the Kings’, each suite is dedicated to a king of a nation (which king and which nation depends on the floor you’re on – they include Russian, Italian, English and French). Standards include iPod docks and CD players. I like the multitude of mirrors and the framed information on your particular king (plus his imposing portrait over the bed).
The rooms in the Queen Hotel offer similar standards, like Gilchrist and Soames bathroom goodies, a CD player, plasma screen TVs and a teddy on every bed.
I’m a big fan of the main Italian-style terrace on a sunny day. The owner’s art is on display again here (I’m not kidding when I say there’s a giant stone turtle), there’s also a waterfall, a colossal chess set and ample seating. The Albert Lounge, at the front of the hotel, is in keeping with a Victorian railway hotel: large oil paintings, dark leather, heavy drapes – plus a few business meetings during the day.
Eating and drinking
The Bacchus Restaurant is where you’ll find breakfast and dinner and Afternoon Tea can be taken in the Albert Lounge. The King’s Quarters, another restaurant under the Kings’ Suites, also offers dinner on selected evenings with cool live music to whet the appetite. No kids are allowed after 7.30pm. A range of decent cocktails and beers are served in the Waiting Room bar, though I prefer the hushed ambience of the Albert Lounge to take my drink.
Young, pleasant and smartly uniformed staff are happy to help.
Who stays there
Business guests outweigh leisure visitors mid-week, but at the weekends the hotel is all about the city break. Lots of UK guests, plus Americans and Japanese.
It's £30 extra to stay in the Kings’. Parking costs £10 for 24 hours.
- Families with teenagers
- Families with younger children
Pros & Cons
- The best outdoor space in city centre
- The mix of old and new
- Proximity to the railway station
- Not a pretty walk to the city centre
- Cost of parking