Gadgets Galore: Visiting Europe's most techie hotel
London's luxurious Eccleston Square is a heaven for technology buffs...
A Design Hotels protégé located in leafy Belgravia, the Eccleston has been billed as the most high-tech hotel in Europe.
But is it worth the hype? I recently checked into its luxury surroundings to discover the hideaway that puts the iPad in manpad.
Located along a striking terrace of ivory Georgian townhouses, the Eccleston Square cuts a stately first impression while black and white Union Jacks, rippling over its portal, immediately suggest a hotel with bold boutique ambitions. The bichrome décor continues inside; Italian glass chandeliers dangle over a minimalist reception area, manned by friendly and dashing Nordic staff. Check-in is seamless and a porter is on hand for that all important room tour.
Inspired by hotel director Olivia Byrne's visits to the Milan Furniture Fair and the Cannes Boat Show, the bedroom brief here is classical edge meets super-yacht chic. Dimensions are compact but it's only fitting to make space for the ultra-heavenly Hästens bed ("the world's best", apparently, costing €14k a pop). The bathroom is equally slick: rain-shower, stacks of complimentary L'Occitane products and glass walls which turn from clear to opaque at the flick of a sensor. Oh, and the mirror doubles up as a TV so guests won't miss the FTSE updates as they floss.
The tech factor
Speaking of TVs, bedrooms are all fitted with a 46-inch plasma screen so guests can make the most of the complimentary DVD library and 3D glasses. Each room also comes with a personal iPad (which acts as a digital concierge) while the hotel app offers guests the likes of room service on-demand, before they even arrive. Amid all the tech controls, you might initially find yourself closing the curtains to turn on the lights but it's pretty effective once the penny drops. And it's a lot of fun.
Room is king at the Eccleston Square and although you'll be forgiven for not going beyond it, the hotel does offer special deals with local personal trainers and spas. One of the hotel's main plusses, however, is that guests gain access to the square's private park (slash secret garden) where you can practice Tai-chi among the hydrangeas or mingle with the Burberry-wearing pugs to really fit in with the locals.
Home to embassies, oligarchs and those who can shell out £4m (€4.85m) for a weekend bolthole, Belgravia is perhaps the UK's most la-di-da residential location. Just off the square lies Elizabeth Street, an avenue of quirky boutiques and cafés offering everything from artisanal cupcakes to Philip Treacy hats. The Victoria Palace and the Apollo theatre are also just a curtain call away for those who fancy some Wicked or Billy Elliot musical action.
Granola to gourmet
Breakfast here was top notch; I opted for the continental, featuring British charcuterie and farmhouse cheeses, gluten free breads and fresh juices. The hotel also has its own French bistro to woo guests to dine in but if you do venture out, try the nearby Ebury Restaurant or the Thomas Cubbitt; a popular local haunt for gastro pub-grub and late night beer and banter.
Room for improvement?
All round, the Eccleston Square is a pretty alluring haven of Zen in the heart of London, however the lack of workspace in some rooms might irk some business travellers. On the flip side, there's a pretty swish media lounge downstairs, so guests can run their home office in comfort.Need to know
Aer Lingus (0818 365 000; aerlingus.com) fly from all major Irish airports to London Heathrow or Gatwick. Fares are currently priced from €85 return.
The Eccleston Square House Hotel itself sits a five-minute stroll from Victoria Station and given its transport connections, Gatwick is the handiest airport option.
Rooms at the Eccleston Square (0044 20 3489 1000; ecclestonsquarehotel.com) start from £105pps (€127). The rate also includes fifty euro's worth of a complimentary snack bar with direct bookings.