I’m a pretty confident traveller. I think nothing of tackling the bright lights of major foreign cities and feel quite at home strutting about in the most opulent sky-scraper accommodation I can find. Yet for some reason luxury London hotels have always seemed a bit intimidating. Perhaps because they’re so expensive compared to our usual world-wide haunts, or maybe just because I’ve just never tried it, generally opting to stay in central but affordable student accommodation instead. Whatever the reason, my luxury London hotel experience has been sorely lacking. Enter the London Apex Temple Court Hotel.
Before today, my only hotel visits to the Capital involved a seedy out of town joint with peeling wallpaper during a school trip when I was 9, and a few years later sharing a lavish suite with annoying little brother at the Grosvenor House in Mayfair thanks to our generous American cousins who were visiting the UK. We turned up sporting backpacks and trainers but had to be treated like kings since our relatives had booked out the club floor. I don’t think the Grosvenor knew what had hit them!
I usually pop down to London twice a year with either my mum or my girl friends for afternoon tea, a bit of shopping (ok a lot of shopping) and more afternoon tea. Hubbie always turns his nose up at the thought of a weekend down in the big smoke (he’s a country boy at heart) so I was more than a little surprised when he declared he wanted to join me on my recent January visit. He had just one condition. We wouldn’t be staying in student digs.
After getting over my initial shock I decided to task him with finding a hotel, partly so he could be involved in the planning (he doesn’t normally get a look in), and partly because I just didn’t know where to start. Give me Bangkok or Kuala Lumpur any day and I’ll have something amazing booked within minutes, but London? Time to delegate! And that’s how we ended up at the Apex Temple Court Hotel.
The Apex Temple Court Hotel
It wasn’t until we arrived at the Apex that I had chance to really pay much attention to what he’d come up with, and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t rather apprehensive. Would it meet my demanding standards? Did it have good toiletries? And was our room on a high floor facing the quietest side of the building? The fact that the lobby guy came running to open the door and take our cases before we’d even set foot inside was a good start, and seeing the welcoming smiles, the polished modern interior and comfy bar seats (we’d try those later) soon put me at ease. Don’t know why I ever doubted hubbie’s ability to find the perfect spot for a few days.
He’d booked a few months ago to take advantage of a great offer, and we were delighted to be given a complimentary upgrade to a Superior room on arrival, as well as an early check-in. Upgrades happen to us a lot. Some call it jammy but I reckon it’s all in the advance booking. Hubbie couldn’t stop grinning, even performing a cocky little jig in the lift, clearly feeling pleased with himself. Not wanting to lavish praise until I was entirely satisfied with every aspect of the hotel I held my ground a while longer.
After expertly mastering the key card to the room, hubbie made a bee-line to inspect the tea tray whilst I went straight to the gleaming bathroom to see if the Apex Temple Court passed the conditioner test. It did! And I loved the complimentary rubber duck on the bath. Ducks and similar bathroom buddies seem to be quite the thing these days, and our toilet cistern at home is getting rather busy with 2 ducks (they had them at Ulusaba too) and 2 turtles courtesy of our trips to the Banyan Tree in Bangkok. We’ll need a bigger bathroom if we’re going to keep adding to the collection.
I have to say hubbie did more than good. I loved our room with it’s sexily subtle colour scheme and carefully considered furnishings. It was everything I’d want from a London hotel. Stylish, fresh and contemporary without compromising on comfort. In fact I think I had the best night’s sleep in a long while, not an easy thing considering I’m an insomniac at the best of times.
It helped that we were staying in the Temple area of the city. Most of the buildings here are the week-day haunts of those who wear wigs and robes and enjoy shouting at each other in the law courts across the road. Thankfully they were decidedly absent over the weekend, making the Apex Temple Court the perfect location for a peaceful and relaxing stay, not something I was expecting in London. Originally the precinct of the Knights Templar in the 12th Century, Temple is the main legal district of London, and home to famous historic landmarks such as the Royal Courts of Justice and Temple Church.
In fact we really enjoyed strolling around the area, and not just because we were virtually the only ones there. In amongst the impressive rows of imposing law buildings, we discovered lots of historically important little gems of architecture, as well as enough cafes and restaurants to satisfy our hunger pangs for a few days. Add in the fact that Temple tube station is just a few minutes walk and I reckon a visitor to London could do much worse than stay here.
After demolishing the contents of the tea tray, going to the theatre, taking hubbie for his first ever afternoon tea and wandering along my favourite riverside walk – the South Bank – we decided to check out the hotel bar. Being a January weekend it was fairly quiet and we had the place to ourselves for a while. Big tick in my book, I don’t do crowds. The seats were amazingly comfy and the fun swivel feature ensured we stayed put for quite some time, trying not to behave like big kids. Hubbie sampled the ales whilst I tucked into some coconut concoction involving rum that the barman recommended. Pretty good stuff, and perfect for washing down the complimentary nibbles (especially the crunchy wasabi bites which pretty much set my mouth on fire).
The staff were really lovely and attentive without being intrusive, but more importantly they were friendly. I’d always envisaged luxury London hotel staff to be a bit aloof and a world away from the over-smiley service we always experience in places like South East Asia. I’m always happy to be proved wrong!
After falling asleep amongst a mountain of pillows watching James Bond ride his motorcycle across the rooftops of Istanbul, we woke up surprised it was already morning.
Breakfast was excellent, with all the usual continental and cooked options you’d expect. I continued my mission to sample all the eggs benedcits in the world, and whilst it wasn’t quite my favourite it certainly did the job. Hubbie demolished his full English in a matter of moments. It’s hard work finding a hotel good enough to please the wife!
But he succeeded and so did the Apex Temple Court. I like to try different places each trip, but I think I could be persuaded to come back here again. After all, we’ve room for one more duck.