By William Wolf

RE-VISITING A FAMILAR HOTEL  Send This Review to a Friend

There’s an advantage to returning to one’s regular hotel. One is comfortable with the place and its set-up, and one gets to know the personnel. That’s the way my wife Lillian and I feel about staying at The May Fair in Stratton Street when we pop into London, as we did once again in July, 2013.

The weather was uncharacteristically broiling this time, a real heat wave—what we had also experienced earlier in Paris, and to no surprise, in Greece. Fortunately, The May Fair is very comfortably air-conditioned, so it became a refuge.

We had notified the hotel that we would have a late arrival as a result of a connection from Paris, and we received the type of king deluxe room we had enjoyed previously, a large, comfortable one with a roomy bathroom with tub and stall shower. In a re-design of the hotel some years ago, some rooms were fitted with clothes closets in the bathroom and we make a point of specifying we don’t want one of those, workable for a single occupant but awkward for two.

Each morning a newspaper hangs on the outside of our door—we select The Times—and a lavish buffet breakfast awaits. It was a pleasure to find two of our favorite waitresses on hand, Pauline and Philomena (Phil for short), in addition to others who make having breakfast there a pleasure. There is plenty of fruit on hand—melon, berries etc., and in addition to the traditional spread of smoked salmon, cold cuts, bacon, eggs, (scrambled or to order), cereals, breads, pastries, muffins etc, the kitchen will provide, when available, the very English addition of kippers and haddock. There is enough coffee with refills to keep one going for the rest of the day. Assorted teas, of course, for that preference.

A very convenient feature is a business center, where there are a row of computers that can be most useful for keeping in touch via email or seeking information on the internet, as well as checking in on a flight and printing one’s boarding pass to facilitate airport check-ins. There is also a gym for the exercise-conscious.

The breakfast room turns into a restaurant later in the day. At a bar off the main floor, one can obtain drinks and light bites. In the evening, there is the bar area upside for nightlife popularity as a place where young folk enjoy congregating, but a downside for older folk put off by the loud blare of disco music. It is impossible to please everybody.

We had the pleasure of meeting the hospitable Anthony Lee, General Manager of The May Fair, who offered any special assistance that we might need. We were also approached by Zeynep Ipek Kalkavan, the charming Guest Relations Manager, who asked whether there was anything special she could do for us. She hails from Turkey. She and I got into a brief but interesting conversation about her home country.

One of the May Fair’s prime assets, as I have pointed out previously, is its central location near the Green Street tube station, just a few stops from The Royal National Theatre and the popular South Bank. This year we found the South Bank more crowded than ever, especially given the clear, if hot, summer weather.

The helpful concierge service at the hotel booked us into two favorite area restaurants, the nearby Caprice and Wolseley. Regrettably, we didn’t have a chance this time to go to Langan’s Brasserie. We did get to minutes-away Fortnum & Mason to buy some chocolate and biscuit goodies and enjoy ice cream at the café. And we paid our usual visit to Turnbull & Asser in nearby Jermyn Street, where Lillian bought me a birthday gift of snazzy shirts.

We had to make a side trip by train to Hastings for family reasons, and the hotel stored our luggage until our return. Granting our wish, the hotel came up with the same type of comfortable room we enjoyed, only on a different floor.

At a reliable hotel it can be a good idea to listen to the knowledgeable concierge staff. When we were about to leave for the airport, the staff suggested a hotel car for a flat rate. We opted for a regular taxi, only to find that the cost would have been about the same with a comfortable hotel vehicle. Of course, we do enjoy the London cabs, so roomy in comparison with those into which we are usually stuffed in New York. Posted September 2, 2013. .


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