Thursday, April 19, 2007

European Adventure

Where To Stay In London
(AKA Where BeansTalk Stayed)

The last time we were there, in 1993, we stayed on the top floor of a bed and breakfast. It was nice, especially for youngish women traveling together. This time around, we stayed at the JW Marriot West India Quay (it’s pronounced “key,” and yes we know what it looks like and yes, we kept pronouncing it the way it looked to us, which, of course, was wrong. It's key. Seriously).

We got a very good deal on this hotel, which is rated four and half stars and has all around excellent reviews.

It’s located in East London, at the Docklands. With the development of the millennium Jubilee line and the Docklands Light Rail (DLR), it’s extremely easy to access the train system and get into central London and pretty much anywhere in the vicinity.

The hotel itself (as seen in the BeansTalk photo) is a beautiful, very modern tall tower and scrupulously maintained.

It was extremely quiet, fairly silent, and not just at night so it was easy to rest and sleep completely uninterrupted (provided you aren’t pacing because of jet lag).

The room was small (they wouldn’t upgrade us, even though the hotel was nearly empty, saying that we paid only got us to the fourth floor). That said, the only issues we have are small ones. First of all, there is no free wi-fi and to use the internet, it’s an outrageous $6 per 15 minutes (maybe more than that as it is 3 pounds sterling). Our second issue is that the staff at the hotel was just serviceable. The housekeeping staff was very nice, but everyone else was just polite. No one went out of their way in any possible manner. The concierge isn’t really that knowledgeable and guessed at opening times of venues (and was wrong both times).

If you can take care of your own schedule, travel arrangements locally (get a travel pass), restaurant choosing, and don’t care about the internet as a source, by all means, this is a superior facility.

There's a Tesco right at the train station one stop east on the DLR so that's a great place to pick up treats and drinks (we didn't even consider the exhorbitant prices at the hotel). The hotel is also right next to a series of waterfront restaurants and pubs. Across the street is a multi-plex movie theater with an extremely convenient ATM machine (that doesn't charge a fee, although your bank may). Speaking of that ATM machine, it is the very best way to exchange your American dollars for pounds because it gives you the best rate. We were able to put our ATM card and withdraw U.K. pounds.

Expedia says: London’s 21st-century waterside business district, Canary Wharf is best known for its cutting-edge architecture, including the 50-storey obelisk-shaped skyscraper, One Canada Square. Get there by the Docklands Light Railway, with elevated tracks giving wonderful views into a world of glass and steel. By contrast, historic Greenwich, home to the National Maritime Museum, is just across the Thames. A foot tunnel links the two.

22 Hertsmere Rd, Canary Wharf
London, E14 4ED United Kingdom
Phone: 44 20 70931000
Fax: 44 20 70931001
Sales: 44 20 70931000
Sales fax: 44 20 75172888
Toll-free: 0800221222