“Unbutton, is the message. This is Party Time. ”
Review by Fiona Duncan, published 27th March 2011.
Let's be honest, W isn't meant for me. It's meant for showbiz, for leggy girls, for Starwood Preferred Guests (W is a Starwood brand, with 40 properties worldwide), for people that like their hotels hip but also part of a group. There are plenty of those about and W London undoubtedly fills a niche, and on a prime site in Leicester Square, with a slick new building encased in a patterned "veil" that glitters at night with hundreds of LED lights.
Each new W hotel seeks, so they say, to reflect its surroundings. Here in London, the design concept, I'm reliably informed, represents the dual personality of the typical British male: buttoned up and party animal. Really? My British male just stays buttoned up.
So, Unbutton, is the message, this is Party Time. Here at W, we may be part of the largest hotel group in the world, but hey, we're Wyld and we're wacky. We have glitterballs. We have cushions on the beds that say Keep Your Wig On, corridors so dark that you need a guide dog to lead you to your room (mind you, the dog can party too, what with the hotel's eye-wateringly expensive pet treats and menu – "furry friends, we are purrfectly pleased to have you here").
We even have our own language. Yup, in W-speak we say welcome ambassador for bellboy; style for housekeeping; talent, if you can possibly bring yourself to mouth the word, for hotel employee. To call the concierge, press the Whatever/Whenever® button on your phone. "Want to propose in Leicester Square?" they ask. "We'll light it up with 1,000 candles."
Well, I'd rather not, and God knows what it would cost. And I'd also rather not see, the moment I walk in to my room, a packet of three and a choice of sex aids in with the crisps and chocolate bars in the open-to-view drawer of the minibar. I must be getting old. And I'd rather not open the door to my otherwise glamorous room and immediately encounter what I can only describe as a Nail Bar plonked in the middle of the room: a white counter with shallow sink and towel rail. All it lacked was a manicurist perched on the accompanying white leather swivel chair. It's meant to double as a vanitory unit and desk, but I'd never have guessed. A bit foxing is W London, but definitely Fun.
- 10 Wardour Street (020 7758 1000; www.wlondon.co.uk). Doubles from £323 per night; breakfast from £15. Specially adapted rooms for guests with disabilities
Theatreland, Soho and Chinatown are literally on your doorstep and if you yearn for a bit of culture, the Royal Academy of Arts (and the green spaces of Green Park) are along Piccadilly.
Some great reminders of what Soho once was can be found in the long-standing Italian Camisa Delicatessen (61 Old Compton Street), the Bar Italia (22 Frith Street) and the Coach and Horses (corner of Greek Street and Romilly Street).
Another equally famous watering hole is the still buzzing French House, whose "no music, no machines, no television and no mobile phones" rule makes it a haven for conversationalists, both literary and showbiz (49 Dean Street; www.frenchhousesoho.com). Upstairs is Polpetto, serving Venetian osteria dishes in tapas-style portions (020 7734 1969;www.polpetto.co.uk).
Where to eat
If you want to explore Chinatown but wish to avoid the grotty food mostly on offer, try Haozham (8 Gerard Street; 020 7434 3838), serving modern Chinese cuisine. Over in Soho, the Hart brothers' Quo Vadis (26 Dean Street; 020 7437 9585), is a great place, as is Dean Street Townhouse, at number 71 (020 7434 1775).
The Hotel Guru verdict
Don't like the layout; do like the glamorous (blissful) beds and lighting
The 'talent' are professional and friendly
John Steed from The Avengers meets Keith Richards
|Food and drink|
Great cocktails and snacks. Spice Market is fun: food delicious, but pricey
|Value for money|
Poor: £10 for a bowl of dog food; £4 for a Kit Kat; £15 a day for in-room internet