December 07, 2013

London's Kings Cross St Pancras Pullman delivers the goods

by Ian Mcintosh - Travel Agent Update

Great views over London. Amazing selection for breakfast. Get your emails anywhere. Plenty of desk space. Satellite style check-in booths.

When French based giant Accor Hotels sensed the need to cater more closely to its cosmopolitan, mobile, hyper-connected clientele it was back to the drawing board for its planning team. A computerised version of a hotel was gutted – and a new product – from the baggage lift by the front steps to satellite style check-in pods and exterior glass lifts took shape. Drawing on the expertise of an organization with 3,500 hotels under its belt, the product had to set a new benchmark for savvy travellers – be smart, functional, well located and still good value. And so Pullman Hotels was born – and the success of this brand is evidenced by the fact that already there are 89 around the world. Accor has luxury brands but Pullman had to be different – upmarket but not stuffy – hotels that had an exciting buzz from the moment a client checked in. Vast empty foyers were out – the space instead used for restaurants, bars and comfy lounges. Finally a digital package would allow clients to browse the web and check their emails anywhere in the hotel.

We booked into the Kings Cross St Pancras Pullman because we were arriving in London around 1pm from Paris via Eurostar and Fiona had an important meeting at 4pm. The first priority was to find an upmarket hotel a stroll away from the railway station with a comfy, serviced lounge area where we could sit and talk. Getting to the hotel couldn't be simpler – after exiting the station you cross the road and take the first right. No need to drag your case up the steps out the front if the doorman is busy – there is a lift on the right hand side. Check-in was quick and easy via a series of booths rather than one desk. In no time at all I was looking at london's skyline - a glass of Bergerie de la Bastide in hand, from deluxe room number 1410. What a change from the Novotel days. You get the buzz as soon as you arrive. I love big foyers - and there it is - but it is not wasted space. You are immediately greeted by the noise, sights, sounds, laughter of a working hotel as guests enjoy everything from a drink at the bar and afternoon tea to a meal or just a chat with a client.

The rooms are big for London and as you would expect fitted out comfortably with plenty of desk space, a big flat TV, ipod dock, individual reading lights - you name it. Bathroom space is used for a good sized shower - no bath thankfully. Everything is thought out carefully – right down to the safe at face level making locking simple. So how was the breakfast? In a word, brilliant - right down to the orange or raspberry smoothie shots. You could dine on the cheese board alone. It was easily the best and most appealing spread we experienced – and the most stylishly presented - in three weeks of travel. The food in England has improved out of sight in the last few years following a vigorous and much overdue campaign by VisitBritain.

Leading the team is livewire GM Jaime Faus who really has his work cut out. As well as 300 rooms he has convention facilities for 400 plus a full size theatre to keep full. Service was brisk and friendly in every department.

To Conclude: A stylish, well run, communications savvy hotel ideally sited close the London Eurostar terminal. Breakfast is a real treat. ****.5

For bookings, see Accor Hotels website

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