Posts Tagged ‘England’

Hampton by Hilton in Croydon, 30 Dingwall Rd, Croydon, London, England,

I have stayed in Hilton Hotels all over the world. I have used Double Tree by Hilton often too, but when my daughter moved to a different part of London, the closest Hilton Hotel was a Hampton by Hilton, so I chose to stay there.

 

Hampton by Hilton London Croydon Exterior

I do not know this part of London well, but the Hampton by Hilton in Croydon, 30 Dingwall Rd, Croydon, London, England, is easy to find. It is only 335 metres away from East Croydon Station which has regular trains into central London to both Victoria and London Bridge.hampton by hilton out day

We arrived at the hotel late after a day with our family. It was dark and the area around the hotel did not, at first glance, hold much of interest. In fact, as I have said, the transport links are excellent and there are shops and other hotels nearby too.hampton by Hilton in

This hotel has a 24 hour reception, but the front doors to the hotel are locked at 10pm. If you plan to arrive after this time, phone to advise the desk. The young lady at reception when we arrived seemed bored, disinterested and gave us incorrect information about the hotel. It was disappointing. I have never had that problem in any Hilton franchise before and it was very disappointing. hampton by hilton reception

Having said that, the lifts in the hotel were quick and clean, our room was spotlessly clean, and breakfast was included in our rate, which made the hotel on a par with the Premier Inn cost-wise. Access is good for those with mobility issues too.hampton by Hilton breakfast

Breakfast was buffet style with a wide choice of cereals, fresh fruit, french pastries and cooked choices. Teas, coffees and fruit juices were also offered. The dining room is quite small for the size of the hotel, but the staff found us a table for four at a busy time nevertheless. hampton by hilton room

The staff on duty in the morning were all helpful, charming and courteous. Alessio on reception was particularly helpful and took responsibility for his surly colleague of the night before. This is the kind of service I have come to expect from hotels that bear the Hilton name, in any guise.hampton by hilton gym

The gym in this hotel, is small, but it is good to know it is there. I am sure that, although this was a first visit to Hampton by Hilton in Croydon, it will not be my last. I can recommend this hotel to those visiting London.

Val Penny

 

The Garrison Public House, 99-101 Bermondsey St, London, England

I visited London recently to take part in the Festival of Learning at Eltham Library, Greenwich. In the evening one of my daughters and her partner met up with me and we had dinner at The Garrison Public House, 99-101 99 Bermondsey St, London, England. The establishment is conveniently situated for those travelling into the city through London Bridge Station.

The Garrison Public House

The focus of this chic little restaurant is on fresh British produce with the chefs changing menus frequently to highlight the best seasonal offering, sourced from local Bermondsey suppliers, and predominately from British farms and fishermen. The pride in their food is justified. My daughter and I both chose the spinach and riccotta cheese ravioli and shared a side order of broccolli and asparagus. Her partner went with the viener schnitzel with a side order of fries. As it was a school night, we all chose soft drinks. Our server came back to ask if we wanted other drinks more often than I felt was necessary, and that was a bit intrusive.

the garrison inside

However, the food was delicious and the quantities sufficient for an evening meal. We shared the cheese board afterwards and my daughter had a mint tea while I chose the earl grey tea. The selection of British cheeses was tasty, but the serving of crackers was rather mean.

the garrison foodThe meal I had at The Garrison Public House was very tasty, the service let the restaurant down a little, and the lay-out is not perfect for those with mobility issues. Despite that, I would visit there again and do recommend it.

Val Penny

California Hotel 4-8 Belgrove Street, London, England

I was taking an early train from London St. Pancras and wanted to find suitable accommodation for one night close to the station. I am old enough to remember The Eagles hit song ‘Hotel California’, so when I found the California Hotel, 4-8 Belgrove Street, London, England, I could not go past it. calif hotel out

The hotel is only about 200 yards from St. Pancras/Kings Cross Station. It is formed of four old town houses and to get into the building you have to go up three very deep, steep steps. This would not normally be a huge problem, unless you have mobility problems. However, my suitcase was extremely heavy and getting it up even those three steps was a struggle.

The reception area is small and quirky. The staff are helpful and very polite. The biggest drawback in respect of this hotel is that there is no elevator. Had I noticed that, I would probably have booked somewhere else. However, the reception staff kindly brought my heavy suitcase to my room and when I was leaving the following morning, they brought it back to reception for me, but not down the three steep stairs outside. caalif hotel room

I had booked a single room and I got a single bed in a small basement room. It was quite bright as it had a double aspect window, but as the room looked into other hotel rooms, I had to keep the blinds shut. My room had an en-suite wet room. The quality of the shower was excellent, but the lavatory made a dreadful noise when I flushed it.calif hotel reception

There was a small tray of courtesy teas and coffees, a bottle of water and a hair-dryer. it also had free wi-fi with no password and I got a good telephone signal. I met family for dinner and friends for breakfast, so I did not eat in the California Hotel. The hotel was perfectly situated for what I needed and the room had everything I expected, albeit in a confined space.

I would not seek out the California Hotel again, but if I were making similar travel arrangements, I would not avoid it.

Val Penny

 

Azzurro, 255 Eltham High Street, Eltham, England

I do enjoy Italian food! So when my daughter and son-in-law booked dinner for us at Azzurro in Eltham, I was looking forward to the meal as well as the company. The restaurant is quite small and very busy but everything is spotlessly clean and the service is attentive, but not intrusive.azzurro out

Azzurro in Eltham is a family run restaurant and the food is freshly cooked to order, so it is not fast food. But it is delicious food. My husbad and son-in law shared a garlic bread pizza for starters while my daughter and I nibbled on some marinated olives. azzurro-italia

For our main courses my son-in- law and I chose pizza while my daughter had pasta and my husband tucked into an Italian lamb dish. Only my husband had room for a pudding and enjoyed the tiramasu and we all had teas and coffees to round off the meal.

The restaurant is not austentatious, but it is good value. I highly recommend Azzurro, if you are in the area.

Val Penny

 

Star of India 267 Eltham High St, Eltham, London

There are no local Indian Restaurants in our village, so, on a recent visit to London my husband and I treated ourselves to a meal at the Star of India, 267 Eltham High St, Eltham, London. What a lovely meal we had. star of india inside

We went for dinner fairly early after visiting relatives. The restaurant was cool and the service was relaxed and unobtrusive. The crisp, white linen table cloths made the place look clean and fresh. We ordered drinks and then our meals.

My husband started with chicken pakora while I had a poppadum with pickles. Both of us enjoyed these very much.star of india outside

For our main courses my husband chose lamb passander and I ordered saag paneer. We requested basmati rice as well as side orders of daal and aloo gobi. It was all absolutely delicious. We thoroughly enjoyed the meal and our evening at the Star of India. If you enjoy Indian food, this restaurant is well worth a visit.

Val Penny

 

Premier Inn, Five Ways, 738 Sidcup Rd, New Eltham, London

On a recent visit to London my husband and I stayed in a Premier Inn Hotel. It was very conveniently situated for the plans we had and the price of accomodation was most competitive. So we checekd in to the Premier Inn, Five Ways, 738 Sidcup Rd, New Eltham, London.

Our first experience of the hotel was checking in. It all went smoothly. The check-in clerk was professional, courteous and very helpful. She took time out to look up the first place we were visiting on her computer and directed us as to the best way to get there. It took a few minutes, but she could not have been kinder.premier inn room

We got up to our room and found it was spotlessly clean. The room was also a good size. It had not only a queen-sized bed, but also a sofa that could have been used as an extra bed, perhaps for a child if we had needed it. The bed was extremely comfortable. There was a courtesy tray with teas and coffees, extra pillows and the bath sheets were a good size.

Unfortunately, the window did not open and we could not adjust the heating, so the room was uncomfortably hot at night. Also the cleaners did not refill the courtesy tray for the later days of our stay and the towels were not soft.

new eltham bathroom

On our first morning, there were not many people in the hotel so the famous, hot Premier Inn buffet breakfast was not on offer, but the cooked dishes were served to order, although the continental breakfast was buffet. The meal was delicious. Later in our stay, my husband was overjoyed when full buffet breakfast returned!premier inn ne

We had an evening meal at the hotel once. It was freshly cooked and tasty. We had drinks in the hotel on another evening, there is no separate bar, but there are comfortable couches in the restaurant area to enjoy a drink.

All in all, we very much enjoyed our stay and will use the Premier Inn, Five Ways, 738 Sidcup Rd, New Eltham, London again.

Val Penny

 

Creme De La Crepe, 29, Covent Garden Market, London, England

I was having a wander around Covent Garden, London, England with my daughters when we decided to stop for lunch. There are lots of interesting places to choose from and we decided on Creme De La Crepe. It is a cosy casual little restaurant that offers a wide variety of both sweet and savoury crêpes and smoothies. COVENT_GARDEN_MARKET_BUILDING

The restaurant is spotlessly clean with tables in vaulted spaces with flagstone floors and one or two tables are outside the restaurant. We sat ‘outside’ Creme De La Crepe so that we could still be in the Covent Garden area. I chose the crepe called Billy Goat’s Gruff. This contains goat’s cheese, caramelised onion marmalade, sweet cherrybell peppers, rocket. It was delicious.

My older daughter went with the crepe known as Nick the Greek that is made from falafel, hummus, sunblushed tomatoes, red onion, black olives, extra virgin olive oil, fresh lemon juice, rocket. She really enjoyed it. My younger daughter ordered a house favourite, Crepe Monsieur. In it is free range smoked ham, mature cheddar cheese, english mustard mayonnaise and rocket. She said it was very tasty.creme de la crepe

We all really enjoyed our meals and I would highly recommend this competatively priced little restaurant, Creme De La Crepe, always assuming you enjoy crepes.

Val Penny

Ed’s Easy Diner, 11 Euston Square, London, England

I was in Euston Station, London one morning waiting for a train and had a little longer to wait than I expected, so I decided to go for brunch and I decided to find somewhere to have brunch. I noticed Ed’s Easy Diner and decided to go in there for an American style brunch revolving around eggs, but after I sat down, I realised this was going to be more difficult than I had anticipated. I am vegetarian and all the egg dishes included bacon or sausage. I should have left then.Ed's out

I was shown to a table immediately and a menu was brought to me quickly but it was several minutes before a server managed to tear themselves away from conversations with colleagues to take my order. This restaurant styles itself a funky chain diner with a 1950s vibe serving burgers, hot dogs and American comfort food, but I did not find it so. My East European server made it clear that changing dishes as specified on the menu were not possible. Very un-American!Ed's pancakes

Eventually we compromised, I would have the three pancake stack, and orange juice and a black coffee. The drinks arrived without issue. What can you do wrong with orange juice and coffee? When the pancakes arrived, there was bacon on the top. I explained, again, that I am vegetarian and the bacon would have to go. Imagine my surprise when my three pancake stack came back with out the bacon and the top pancake. You have to laugh!

I cannot recommend Ed’s Easy Diner, as I did not eat there. The coffee and orange juice is good and access is easy for those with mobility issues, should they wish to go there.

Val Penny

 

Winchester Writers’ Festival, University of Winchester, West Downs Student Village, Winchester, England

The Winchester Writers’ Festival is held in the middle of June and attracts over three hundred emerging novelists, poets, short story writers, children’s writers, script and memoir writers  from across the UK and the world to the University of Winchester. Delegates attend workshops, talks and one-to-ones with over seventy literary agents, commissioning editors, authors and expert practitioners throughout an inspiring and supportive weekend. This year was the first time I had ever attended The Winchester Writers’ Festival, but it was recommended to me by my friend and mentor, Simon Hall.winchester

I had the opportunity to meet with four agents and publishers, three of whom expressed an interest in my work. However, it was eventually Crooked Cat Books, whom I had submitted my work to, prior to attending Winchester, that accepted my debut crime novel, ‘Hunter’s Chase’ for publication.

At Winchester, I stayed in student accomodation. My goodness, it took me back! Accommodation with breakfast is available at the University of Winchester in basic student rooms in the West Downs Student Village and in Beech Glade on the main King Alfred campus.  A free shuttle bus service will run between West Downs and the Festival venues on the main King Alfred campus at key times over the weekend. En suite and Standard (shared bathroom) accommodation is available at very reasonable prices. Beech Glade is much more convenient for the main campus where the talks, meetings and meals are held, but only West Downs has en-suite accommodation, so the deal was set. I was staying in West Downs. The West Downs Student Village is at the top of a steep hill, so I was glad the course ran a shuttle bus morning and afternoon.

winchester university diningThe accommodation is basic, but clean. My room contained a bed, wardrobe, desk chair and book shelves with an ensuite shower room. Basic bedlinen, toiletries and towels were provided too. I was only there for a long weekend, what more did I need? Accommodation includes hot and cold buffet breakfast for the nights you stay. If you are attending the conference for the day, lunch is also included. Dinner is not and requires to be booked and paid for separately. The meals were ample and tasty and there was provision for vegetarians. Prices in the bar are much lower than in the real world.

Winchester makes great play of being inclusive and having rooms suitable for wheelchair users. I did not see any wheelchair users at the conference. The pack I received states that, although there are stairs leading from conference buildings to the bar and dining roomm, there are lifts for those with mobility issues. I do not have mobility issues, but there were delegates who required assistance to walk. The lifts did not work. That was unsatisfactory.

Free, but limited, parking is available at West Downs and further parking is available in the main car park and Medecroft car park on the main campus but as I travelled to Winchester by train, this did not affect me.

lemnsissayThe keynote speech was delivered on the Saturday morning by Lemn Sissay. I enjoyed the talk and found him a motivating and interesting speaker. Unfortunately, as many people queued to buy his books after his talk, we were told he had somewhere else to be. As a result of this, he stopped dedicationg the books and just signed them, then he left. Not all those waiting with books go them signed. This was bad organisation disppointing and tacky. I have never seen this happen anywhere before. I opted not to buy any of his books.

The Winchester Writers’ festival was interesting some seventy-five speakers delivered fifty separate talks, readings and workshops to almost three hundred writers. The accomodation was adequate. However, bearing in mind the conference only lasts three days, it is extremely expensive. I would not attend the Winchester Writers’ Festival regularly, but I may attend again in the future. I believe there are other writers’ events that are better value for money.

Val Penny

 

 

 

Gerrard’s Corner Chinese Restaurant, 30 Wardour St, London, England

On a recent visit to London, my daughters treated me to a theatre visit, something I miss now I live in a village. We went to see The Play That Goes Wrong at the Duchess Theatre. It was an extremely funny comedy. I have rarely laughed so hard. The cast were fabulous and we enjoyed the experience greatly. Afterwards, it was only fair that I treated us to dinner.Apple Duchess Theatre

I do not know London well, so, having decided that we would have a Chinese meal, my older daughter suggested a restaurant she has been too before and enjoyed. She chose Gerrard’s Corner Chinese Restaurant on the corner of Gerrard Street and Wardour Street. For the omnivores amongst us, it was a good call. chinese out

Gerrard’s Corner is obviously a popular restaurant as we had not booked and, although we were early for dinner, there was a short queue. We were told we would have to wait about five minutes, and that was about right. We were shown to a table downstairs in the large, cosy basement. Service was friendly and prompt without making us feel rushed in any way.chinese in 2

I started with the Deep Fried Crispy Greens, and my daughters had the Satay Chicken on Skewers. We all enjoyed our starters. They were delicious. I am vegetarian and was surprised at the number of bean curd and vegetable dishes that contained meat, fish or fish paste. So my choices were limited. I chose the Fried Bean Curd with Salt and Pepper. It was tasty but a bit dry. My older daughter had the Fried Chicken in Lemon Sauce whch she very much enjoyed and my younger daughter ordered the Crispy Shredded Beef in Chilli sauce. She enjoyed that too. As a vegetarian, Gerrard’s Corner is not a restaurant that I would recommend. However, the omnivores amongst us thoroughly enjoyed the meal.

Val Penny