world according to sam

Don't go around saying the world owes you a living. The world owes you nothing. It was here first. Mark Twain

Category: London

Qbic Hotel … Whitechapel … Form an orderly Q

  

I don’t know what it is about these new boutique essentials hotel chains malingering around the nether regions of the alphabet … First Z and now Q(bic) but whatever the reasoning behind the names, the end results are impressive.

Dutch owned, the quirkily decorated rooms offer a budget stay on the cool East side of London.  Rooms are offered on three price/size bands. We opted for the cheapest … After all this was a stop off for a late night out in London followed by a hearty brunch at Dirty Burger/Chicken Shop. All we required was cleanliness, a comfortable bed and a decent shower.  Qbic delivers on all three … The buxom Mrs Mop presiding over our bed in the form of a large graphic is less daunting after a few cocktails and is an amusing welcome to the room on check-in. 
  
    
For an inexpensive overnight stay with a little more soul and tongue-in-cheek humour than your average Premier Inn, Qbic is a great find!

Z Shoreditch

  
Expensive train fares mean that when we plan to be in London at the weekends we occasionally treat ourselves to a hotel (return train fares for two are about £90 including tube) so we drive up, park somewhere hopefully for free (generally after 1.30 in the City) and spend a couple of days enjoying the delights London has to offer without the worry of having to catch the last train home that is invariably full of half sloshed callow youths who think it’s terribly funny to engage with the ‘old folks’ … 

So a hunt on Trivago to check out what’s available at what price will throw up grisly b&b’s as far out as Wembley but if you are fairly clued in on the geography of London you can on occasion pick up a bargain   Pre-Christmas we stayed at Z Shoreditch, a designer conversion of a former office building, with 111 bedrooms arranged over lower ground, ground and three upper floors.

Staying in Shoreditch, where space is at a premium this hotel concept is to provide maximum comfort in a compact space. But fear not, these are not anything like those Japanese sleep pods that remind me of a morgue! 

As they say on their website “You’re not intending to hold conferences in your room or throw parties, either.”

If  you are wanting to stay a couple of nights in central London, sleep in a really comfortable bed and wake in designer surroundings Z is a great choice. Rooms start at £59 ( we paid rather more but still great value for central London)

This is the description from their website and it’s all true! “Your  Z room will be carefully considered. With en suite wet room, crisp bed linen, 48” TV with a full selection of Sky channels, and of course, complimentary Wi-Fi.”
We had a basement room that had a small window panel to the side of the bed but as we rolled in at 1am, outside was still awash with late night revellers, window or not the room was perfect for our needs – sleep! A bedside control panel for lights and a/c mean even in the dead of night it’s easy to cool things down or illuminate a path to the loo! 

Breakfast is not included in their basic room rate but can be taken in the cafe next to reception. 

Soon to come … A review of Qbic Hotel 

Belmond British Pullman

I know I was utterly spoilt last year year for my FortyTen celebrations and in late October,  5 months in, those celebrations finally came to a close.
I was very generously gifted a voucher for the Orient Express group … Googling ‘book Orient Express tickets’ I was filled with images of a romantic trip  with Mr H and I channeling Agatha Christie and the diminutive Poirot, heading from Paris to Venice. Back to earth with a bump …. £500 will buy you a 2 hour journey with afternoon tea from London’s Victoria through the Kent countryside for two people.
Further exploration of itineraries and we decided to add some of our own coffers to opt for Belmond British Pullman‘s The Golden Age of Travel lunch.

Departing from Victoria Station, there is a waiting room exclusively for Belmond travellers with tea and coffee, a welcome warming drink before the off.

The excitement is tangible, the audience a mixed bunch, most celebrating the passing of milestone birthdays, engagements, marriages The average age is somewhat more than my own half century I suspect. Some have embraced the bygone era, tea dresses, the odd gentleman in black tie and one group who seemed to be wearing Lilliputian sized trilbys a in a nod to ….. Bugsy Malone?

A short wait and boarding commences, the cheery crew welcome you aboard with due reverence … A very different experience to the 7.26 Haslemere to Waterloo. Space and comfort are what greet you, high backed wingchairs set at beautifully laid tables with an overly ornate table lamp, with a shade something akin to a Victorian courtesans flouncy knickers. Beautiful crystal, fine china and flatware are far removed from the contemporary stemless glasses and heavy earthenware crockery of so many restaurants now.

Champagne is poured almost as soon as you are seated and the experience begins. It doesn’t take long to immerse yourself, talking in hushed tones and waving regally like a pageant queen to the passengers disembarking the normal service trains.

Amuse bouche followed by a soup starter served professionally by the steady footed crew, wine ordered – the journey begins out through a much graffiti’d South London and down to the Kent coast. It’s not the most interesting of vistas but Mr H and I enjoyed the food and each other’s company and shared juvenile humour at our efforts at sotto voce conversation in a bid to not disturb the library hush.

There is an opportunity to purchase souvenirs but I refrained from the branded sweater-wearing teddy and the other costlier Belmond ephemera. Our adjacent neighbours bought a rather overpriced Station Clock as their souvenir of the day … Mr H and I settled for a few photos on our iPhones and the memories!

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Two bottles of wine and an extra glass of champagne for the delay in leaving Victoria at the start of the journey coupled with the gentle tinkling of silver against chinaware leaves even the most seasoned of travellers in a soporific state. As we reached Broadstairs we were asked to disembark where we were greeted with another glass of wine and fresh local Oysters. Some of our fellow passengers were less than keen to partake of the crustaceans on offer (fools)  – all the more for us. A blazer-clad brass band was playing to add to the yesteryear ambience but it felt slightly awkward and contrived standing side by side on the platform –  needless to say there was one fellow traveller who threw inhibition to the wind and managed a sort of Charleston. We all dutifully congratulated her as we returned to our seats, homeward bound.

In essence it was a charming day out but given the cost I think we probably could have had an Air BnB weekend city break for the same price as lunch on the Belmond.  This trip is best suited to a more vintage traveller, a special older birthday or celebratory anniversary. My in-laws would have loved this trip as would any ferroequinologist* but perhaps Mr H and I should have saved this for our twilight years!

*trainspotter/anorak

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