Snapshot Guide

My Lightening Trip to London

Thursday 11 April 2013 | By William Coulston |

Courtesy of British Airways I had two business class tickets to London last Tuesday on the inaugural 777 flight and I arrived back in Oz yesterday – still not sure what time zone I’m on anyway…… my review

British Airways

This was the inaugural Boeing 777-300 service new aircraft and into Terminal 5 Heathrow

Seats - we had row 12 the two seats together in the middle facing backwards. With the pearlised screen to block out your neighbour on the aisle this became a very nice private space - however we had no perception of anything as we could not see any windows

You also have to climb over the person on the aisle seat when they are sleeping trying very hard not to hit their legs which I did twice!

There were a couple who had the backward facing window seat and the forward facing aisle seat so they face each other and could talk I would probably opt for this next time.

Seat in any position very comfortable - more so than Emirates Business Class seat which I don't like in bed mode and on a par with the Qantas Skybed or United's Business Class seat which I do like

However there is no where to place things like magazines and the seats need a small drinks tray between the seats to put your glass on and save putting your meal tray down. There is a drawer at the bottom of the seat on the side which fits shoes and magazines and assorted odds and ends

Food and beverage

the meals are served on a tray with a cloth which is placed on your tray table

Not stylish enough - I prefer Emirates or Malaysian where a cloth is placed on your tray table then your tray with another linen cloth is placed on that

Salt and pepper in paper sachets not shakers which was disappointing

My main course Sydney to Singapore was terrible and the scrambled eggs into London you could have bounced off the wall, however London via Singapore to Sydney the meals were stunning.

Wine - only sav blanc white or two reds - no chardonnay

Champagne is Tattinger

There is a self service food and wine snack bar which is great on the long sectors

Entertainment - fantastic a huge range of movies etc and the screen is quite large

Flight was full except the last sector I did go and check out Premium Economy and economy Personally I would not pay for Premium as the seats did not look that much bigger than economy (of course depends on the service level) The new First cabin looks stunning and I loved the window treatment 

Airports

Express Path Sydney works very well both for passport and security checks and also on arrival

I did not like Terminal 5 Heathrow – very grey very clinical could have been anywhere –One point to note

Walking into the vast departures check-in hall there is no clear signage where to go if you are Business Class Tell clients to turn right and head for the “First” check-in area at the end of the Hall Business class is just before it.

Airport Lounges

Sydney – Qantas Business Class lounge – full and we struggled to find two seats and as usual no snack food – give me finger sandwiches anytime

Singapore – British Airways own lounge – great showers and good selection of food and wines etc

London Terminal Five – BA Galleries – very hard to get to whoever designed this terminal’s flow must have taken something!

Very Large lounge nicely divided into different spaces the showers are one floor down between the First lounge and the Concorde room

Great view of one runway

Reasonable selection of food being evening the dinner offerings were disappointing and looked un-appetising – curries or pasta and a small salad bar

BA Terminal Five Arrivals Lounge was great and the scrambled eggs and hash browns some of the best I’ve ever had

Easy to find walk out into public arrivals hall take the lift to 3rd floor and its right in front of you

Only downside – no public phone except for a strange credit card phone push button 1 for local calls in the Uk and I kept getting a USA international operator!

Car Transfers

Carey Limousines – very good

The driver was booked for 7am and I had asked them to meet us at the arrivals lounge

At 6.55am the chauffeur walked in to locate us

New black Mercedes E class

Just Airports Limousines

http://www.justairports.com/

I used this company from London City to Heathrow

32 pounds one way which for London is a very cheap price you either pre-pay with a card or pay the driver cash

Booked the car for 5.00pm pickup driver came a tad early

Comfortable 4 seater estate car that would take 3 passengers and 3 cases and bags

Not a limo but clean and comfortable and miles better than battling the London tube at peak hour!

They charge an extra 5 pounds for arrival service plus car parking

Hotels

I stayed one night at the Goring and one night at the Ritz

I also had site inspections and lunch at Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park and Claridges

Site inspections and afternoon teas at The Four Seasons and the Savoy

Site inspection at the Stafford

Always book Virtuoso rates at these hotels

If I could take the best of each hotel and mix it together you would have the best in the world 

Best for location– the Ritz, The Stafford and Claridges

The Goring is a five minute walk to Victoria Station or a 20 minute walk past Buckingham Palace to get to Piccadilly

The MO is opposite Harvey Nichols and 5 minutes walk to Harrods

The Savoy is a  2 minute walk to Covent garden


I loved The Goring ( being upgraded to the Belgravia Suite helped! ) a stunning two room suite with silk used as wallpaper

I love the character of the hotel, the staff and the quirkiness

The room light switch - you press one of four buttons –bright, calm, cosy or oohhh!

Best bathroom I have had for ages except it took ten minutes to get the shower to go from either ice cold or boiling to perfect

also the king size bed had a split mattress not the best I’ve slept on 


The Mandarin Oriental is very Victorian in style lots of marble in the lobby area,

Fabulous restaurant very buzzy

The rooms I saw were ok but did not grab


The Stafford

Perfect location in St James

very small uninspiring lobby

loved the bar with an amazing collection of collection of caps

the rooms are spread over the main building and across a courtyard in the mews

some rooms/suites OTT e.g. same wall paper pattern used on the ceiling

I have clients who will only stay here but it did not grab me 

 

Claridges

I would stay here next time as the location is perfect

We had a beautiful lunch with exquisitely served food in the lobby restaurant

Rooms are huge and decorated either in art deco or Edwardian style

We were much fussed over here and felt very special

The Royal Suite I liked but the Ritz Royal Suite is better

The Map room is amazing and is the business centre – a very relaxed place to sit and check your emails

 

The Four Seasons

Stunning

loved this hotel only downside location at Hyde Park Corner -  a bit of a walk to get anywhere

The hotel does have a new black phantom Rolls Royce limo for free use by guests within a mile of the hotel

We were treated to this stunning car which took us back to the Ritz - people stopped and starred when we arrived back at the Ritz!!

Felt very special

Fabulous afternoon tea with Bollinger

fabulous rooms and suites some with terraces on the first floor

there is a stunning arrivals lounge on the top floor with a perfect view across London fro Westminster past the wheel to the new Shard

 

The Ritz

We were upgraded to a Junior Suite - the hotel has smoking floors – which for my travelling partner was great and windows that open which for me was even better

Did I liked it?  Yes however  - It was missing that x factor although the room grew on me

Afternoon Tea was still being served at 8pm in the Palm Court however this is on the side of the lobby and did not intrude

Breakfast in the beautiful restaurant being served by waiters in tails and white tie we did feel like we were royalty – at 7.30 am

We were the only two in the Restaurant – the same at the Goring the morning before – very quiet

Very nice however Goring's breakfast was better and my hollandaise sauce was served cold not warn which was not good

The bathroom was disappointing with plain large white tiles on the floor

Otherwise the suite was delightful - very French in style

 

The Royal Suite is amazing and at 3500 pounds per night not outrageous

I was shown a superior king bed room  perfect marble bathroom so maybe my suite was due for a bathroom upgrade

The banquet conferencing rooms in the adjoining William Kent House were astoundingly beautiful

 

The Savoy

Loved it

Stunning lobby and very switched on staff everyone knew who I was and that a car had been booked to go to Heathrow

Lead in rooms very very small - don't sell - upgrade here

I saw the Maria Callas Suite which had great views over the Thames

Afternoon tea was very nice and the two bars are fabulous

Downside for me is the location - I much prefer being in Mayfair

London

This was my first time back in London in many years - it had not changed - I still love Mayfair

The congestion charge must be working as the traffic was light in the centre of the city

Last Thursday Fortnum and Mason was empty and you could have shot a cannon ball down Regent Street and not hit anybody

That day it was freezing cold and it did snow

The next day - last Friday  - completely different - still very cold but shops full and around Oxford Street and Regent street many many people

Buckingham Palace now has selected evenings when the palace staterooms are open for exclusive viewings at 70 pounds

in April right through to end of the year bookings through the Royal Collections web site

The Tube - Oyster cards cost 5 pounds to buy then you top up. Its cheaper just to buy a paper day ticket

my zone 1-2 cost 8 pounds

Pret a manger shops everywhere offering great value for sandwiches and snacks

Likewise Marks and Spencer food shops offer a great range with price similar or cheaper to here

Petrol is around 1.35 pounds per litre so not cheap if you are self driving

No graffiti and I only saw two people begging the city is clean gleaming and sparkling

In a nutshell that’s my 62 hours last week in London