Thursday, June 9, 2016

Conrad St. James, London - Review

I'm a Hilton Diamond, thanks to the Amex Hilton Surpass card, so I tend to seek out Hilton when I'm travelling.  Hilton's Diamond benefits aren't as good as those I use to enjoy as an Intercontinental Royal Ambassador, but they really do add value to any stay.  In this case we booked (using points of course) at the Conrad St. James, and my Diamond status was good for lounge access, an upgrade, and breakfast each day.

The Conrad St. James used to be an Intercontinental, but switched to the Conrad brand last year.  I was interested to see how they'd handled the transition, and it appears to have gone quite smoothly.  Booking the room was quite a hurdle, as I discussed in this post. Eventually, I was able to book into a King Superior Room for 80,000 points a night:

The best flexible rate for a King Superior is £319. At that rate, I was getting .6 CPP value for my Hilton points. Not an outsized value, by any means, but well within my comfort level.  The above shot, by the way is from the Conrad's "3D Floor Plan" page, which has floor plans for almost all of the room types. I like knowing pretty much what to expect when booking and the availability of floor plans helps.

Hilton also offers Premium Room Rewards that allow you to pay more points for a better room.  Sometimes the additional points are reasonable, and sometimes they're astronomical. In this case, I decided to check what was available. I discovered that for 26K HH points a night, I could upgrade from the King Superior to a King Grand Deluxe. The Grand Deluxe was priced about £54 above the Superior, so that meant I'd only get about .3cpp of value out of each additional point.  .3cpp is my par value for HH points, but I was interested in seeing how the "Premium Room" booking would affect my upgrade chances.

We ended up being upgraded to a Junior Suite, which runs around £479 per night.  I had hoped for a better upgrade, but the hotel was quite full. I'd been told that it was beforehand, and, when I checked online that proved to be the case. (Ed: Trust, but verify.) The room itself was quite nice and was spacious (for London).  From the corridor, the room opened into a small sitting area facing the back side of a (reversible) television.
Just inside the front door is a closet, the minibar (water from the minibar was complimentary for Diamonds), and a coffee machine:

Since this trip was partly in celebration of my wife's birthday, the hotel had left a nice little treat for us:

Beyond the mid-room television is the bed, which was quite comfortable and offered useful reading lights (a pet peeve of mine is reading lights that don't operate separately from the rooms main lighting, a problem we encountered at the Paddington).  Bottles of spring water were left by the bed each evening.
Beyond a sliding door from the bedroom is the bath, with a separate tub and shower, and a private room for the WC.

The rainfall shower was very good, though it had a tendency to leak onto the bathroom floor.

If I had it all to do over again, I probably would not have gone for the Premium Room reward. My Diamond status would likely have meant an upgrade out of the entry-level room, and for a short two-night stay, getting the slightly larger Junior Suite wasn't vital.  This is particularly true given that Hilton Diamond gives lounge access no matter which room you book into.  As you'll see in the next phase of this review, lounge access at this hotel is no small thing.

A final note about the hotel: the basement gym features a mini-fridge with very handy plastic bottles of spring water.  These are complimentary and are nice to have when walking about London.

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