London is home and has been for quite some time now and so it’s safe to say that from time to time, as amazing as the city is, we sometimes take it for granted. The only time I actually seem to make an effort to see the city is when I have guests visiting, in which case, I end up doing all the touristy attractions and fall in love with my city all over again.
With the Christmas holidays over and no plans to have any guests visiting, I recently found a new reason to play tourist in my own city. That reason? Well scroll down further to see why…
The thing is, we’d been away travelling so much the last few months that it feels like I’ve not spent as much time in London so I was looking forward to just ambling around the city and taking in all the sights again…
…like the walk around More London (which despite its confusing name is actually a place)…
…which leads you up to good old Tower Bridge!
The Mayor of London’s office… which is just an added bonus to Tower Bridge really cos let’s face it, we all come here to see the Bridge!
The Tower of London (which reminds me, it’s high time I visited it properly again, I haven’t been in over 10 years!)
The twinkly lights of Hays Galleria.
The London Eye!
The Houses of Parliament, Westminster (generally) and Big Ben!
The walk through London South Bank…
St Paul’s Cathedral…
… and the Millennium bridge
HOW WE CAME ABOUT BEING TOURISTS IN LONDON
Seeing as we spend quite a lot of time lately travelling, I’ve become obsessed with hotel rooms. I think all the hunting around for ‘the right hotel’ has somehow managed to evolve into a full blown obsession and I’m happy about it. Finding the right place always makes me so happy so it’s an effort in the right direction I reckon but I digress…
So, we’ve all heard of Holiday Inn (along with the wider Intercontinental Hotels) and more than likely, at some point, we’ve all stayed in one or the other. For instance, The Holiday Inn Expresses were a solid staple in our 3 week American road trip along with The Bellagio (honourable mention for Vegas), a couple of boutique hotels, an Airbnb or two and a whole host of others. It fits perfectly with our Save and Splurge travel philosophy and always came with breakfast which we most certainly make the most of!
Well, the Holiday Inn Express the “Next Generation” of hotels which have been built based on a whole range of intelligent information from customers (you and I), research teams and couple with the design experience used in first class travel cabins on airplanes so it’s safe to say our curiosity was more than a little piqued when we were asked to come check it out for ourselves.
The first thing that struck me was how colourful and bright it all was! I’m a huge fan of colours so I was definitely in my element within minutes of arriving.
I side-glanced at the rather cool looking bar with a promise to be back to test it our properly (for research purposes, of course)…
Eventually, we headed up to our rooms (both on the same floor) which, I was pleased to see, had the airy, colourful feel too.
After travelling across different countries with so many different adaptors required to charge my devices, I can’t reiterate enough how big a deal this bedside USB charging slots are. (I actually managed to get a couple of Universal Adaptors and still get caught out on more than one destination we visited so a little detail like this, goes a very long way.)
As nice and colourful as the hotel room was, the first few minutes I spent there, as great as they were, still left me with the feeling of being in a hotel. Then, I reached for the TV remote and did the mandatory flicking through the channels. Except of course, the TVs here are Smart TVs and so I could watch my Netflix directly from the TV (Kimmy Schmidt marathon sessions anyone?). I could even stream movies from my phone onto the TV!
The whole Smart TV thing might sound like a run-of-the-mill fact but lately (and by ‘lately’, I mean over the last 5 years), I made the move from watching TV in its traditional form to watching TV on demand.
Even when I watch UK TV channels, it tends to be Catch-Up or On-Demand services so having access to this, made me feel right at home. It’s funny how there’s just that one thing (like a song, a smell or even a taste) that can trigger off visceral reactions in you. As vapid as this might make me sound, my thing right here was TV! 🙂
Flicking through YouTube, Lloyd ‘happened upon’ Adele’s Hello video…
…which he then proceeded to choreograph from start to finish! Complete with ‘blue steel’ looks, finger gesturing and what he’d like to refer to as singing… (his caterwauling is almost guaranteed to make your ears bleed).
Thankfully, it was almost dinner time though I have to ‘fess up – I just wasn’t willing to leave the warmth of the hotel in search of food outside!
There were lots of options outside but the temperature in London had dipped considerably so we opted to stay in the hotel for pizzas (which was sooooo doughy – just the way I love it) accompanied with salted caramel ice creams and wine (told you I had to ‘research’ the bar).
By the time, I was done with dinner, I was already a fan of the whole Next Generation concept the Holiday Inn Express have on offer. Even the business centre at the hotel is reduced to tablets like this!
This Next Generation concept (and what I like about it) is the fact that it isn’t trying to revolutionise the whole hotels concept at all. You still get the stuff you’d expect from a hotel – beds, showers, TVs… etc It is however changing the industry and proving that your voice (and mine) as customers matter by actually giving us stuff that we want and need from hotels as conveniently as possible without extra stuff that we neither need nor want.
It’s also making technology work for you – for instance, like the way you would select seats on a flight, you can select your hotel room and it’s just those little things that make me go – YES!
Ice cream also helps too! 😉