When you commute for four hours a day to and from London you barely take note of what’s around you. You focus on briskly walking to the tube, dodging tourists, a flurry of leaflets, free magazines, copies of The Big Issue thrust into your path, followed by a dash to make ‘your train’ because you have to try your best to make ‘your’ train. You just have to. For the last eight months I’ve done this, to and from Essex into Soho, five days a week. Yet only a few short days ago did I realise that the National Gallery was just a ten minute walk from where I work.
A trip to London to actually appreciate a city I spend most of my day in was a must. To pop to galleries, to walk along the South Bank at our leisure and truly appreciate everything London has to offer. A visit for a special occasion wouldn’t be complete without a relaxed stay and The Charing Cross Hotel which was the perfect spot to chill out, rest our heads and refuel.
Dropping our bags in the room, we found everything we could possibly need and more for a one night’s stay. From a large wide screen TV (handy for catching up on X Factor and Strictly results), a personalised iPad for making any bookings within and outside the hotel, a coffee machine, mini bar with complimentary drinks and a collection of snacks which made me rather happy – gluten free flapjacks (result!)
Located a stone’s throw away from both Charing Cross and Embankment station, The Charing Cross Hotel really is ideal for so many reasons. It’s found in central hub connecting lots of surrounding must see areas for any visit to London, along with being a prime location if you fancy catching a show at the West End.
What’s to see:
National Gallery and National Portrait Gallery – 2 minute walk
South Bank – 5 minute walk
West End – 5 minute walk
Covent Garden – 10 minute walk
Soho – 10 minute walk
London Eye – 10 minute walk
Houses of Parliament – 15 minute walk
Tate Modern – 15-20 minute walk
After a long day of sightseeing, settling down for dinner and an early night was ideal. Forgetting to tell the hotel and chef about my gluten free intolerance in advance did worry me slightly as I was concerned what I’d actually be able to enjoy from the menu. A quick word to the waiter and my worries we banished, with him assuring me that the chef would even cook me something different should I not find something I fancied.
What we ordered:
Meze Platter – a generous platter of creamy houmous and baba ganoush, Kalamata olives, grilled halloumi cheese, chargrilled filled peppers and marinated vegetables, served with toasted garlic inflused bread (and gluten free bread for me)
Bucatini Pasta – rich threads of bucatini pasta topped with lean homemade meatballs and a rich ragu sauce
Buccleuch Sirlion Steak – 8oz of Buccleuch sirlion steak served along side juicy roasted vine tomatoes, fresh watercress and thick cut chips
Viennoiserie Bread and Butter Pudding – buttery viennoiserie bread pudding with a tangy orange marmalade glaze and vanilla ice-cream
Every aspect of the meal was rich in flavour and carefully arranged. My eyes lit up when gluten free bread arrived for the starter, something rarely seen. This was perfect to dip in the houmous and baba ganoush, which tied us over before our main.
The sirlion steak was perfectly cooked to my liking; medium-rare, with roast potatoes instead of chips, as these contained gluten. I could only stare longingly at the bread and butter pudding (although I was informed just how good it was), but still full from the rest of the meal, I opted for a strawberry daiquiri to finish.
Settling down to sleep knowing I had just a ten minute walk to work the next day was perfect.
Waking on the Monday morning, it was time to visit the breakfast buffet before a leisurely walk to work. With our room very close to the station, we did hear the murmuring of trains occasionally but this was something you get used to and barely notice. We did unfortunately leave one of our windows open without realising and were woken a few times by the clanging of bottles when the recycling was picked up from the streets below – something we’d definitely double check next time! If you have the opportunity, ask for a room overlooking the front of the hotel.
With such choice available it was difficult to pick what was best for breakfast, but of course, like I always do, I had to opt for the cooked breakfast. After speaking to the waitress, I was brought our some gluten free toast, which was toasted separately in an oven to avoid cross contaminating with normal bread crumbs. As far as allergies are concerned, all the staff were most impressive with way they handled this and I couldn’t recommend them enough.
Gathering our things together, we checked out and I went on to take a leisurely walk into Soho, taking a few photos of the sun coming up. This definitely beat the commute.
*A big thanks to the team at The Charing Cross Hotel for arranging such a lovely stay. Top marks to your chefs and waiters for being so understanding and accommodating.