I am currently putting together a menagerie of articles reviewing the best club lounges in London’s luxury hotels. I am a big fan of the executive lounge at the JW Marriott Grosvenor House for the ambiance and food. The club lounge at the Langham London is also a great lounge with excellent food. But in my humble opinion, the “Club InterContinental” which includes the lounge at the InterContinental Park Lane, has the best views of any Club or Executive lounge in London.
Why do I rank the Club InterContinental lounge so highly? Don’t get me wrong, this lounge is not perfect, but it remains my favourite place to work and meet in London. I have seen Tony Blair use this lounge and Condoleezza Rice is also said to like it. The reasons why I like this lounge so much are listed below.
The view from this lounge, located on the 7th floor of the InterContinental, is phenomenal. Expansive windows that must be 2 storeys in height, look down upon the busy roundabout at Hyde Park Corner. This roundabout is a key artery to the road network in London and leads off the famous Park Lane. As such, it is always exciting to watch. The double-decker busses look like dinky toys from the 7th floor – you feel like you could pick them up in your hand and drive them about. There are supercars, ambulances, police cars, taxis and kamikaze cyclists weaving their way around this crazy road network. At night you feel like you are watching a neon car ballet!
Beyond the roundabout, the views extend over the Bomber Command Memorial and across Green Park. This pretty park surrounds Buckingham Palace and has an interesting history. Apparently, King Charles II used to pick flowers in the park. Rather than giving these flowers to his wife, he gave them to another woman. In revenge, the Queen ordered that every single flower in the park should be pulled up and no more planted. True or not, there are still no formal flowerbeds in the leafy Green Park.
Beyond Green Park, the London skyline extends into the distance. To your left, you can see the London Eye and Big Ben, to your right, the chimneys of Battersea power station. Between these are the distant towers and skyscrapers, that sit on the banks of the river Thames.
Look up and you can see the flight path and holding pattern for planes coming and going from Heathrow. Spot A380s and Boeing 787s as they lower into their landing pattern. Yes, this is a great view and a reason to book into this lounge in itself.
This lounge is big. It extends almost of the length of this large building and has been designed in a split-level layout with a variety of sitting and dining spaces as well as a large central food and beverage area where breakfast, afternoon tea and evening canapés and drinks are laid out. To the left, there are 3 iMac computers (my son loves to sit on the swivel chairs and play on these), in the centre is the concierge desk where you can check out and order business services, to the right are further sitting areas and a huge array of papers and magazines. It rarely feels busy, in fact, during work hours on weekdays, you can sometimes find yourself alone with only the concierge and staff for company. Somehow, however full or empty, the design and ambient music, as well as the hum from the two widescreen tvs, means that it rarely feels too busy or too empty.
Another thing I particularly like about this lounge is the staff. Over the many years, I have been frequenting this lounge, they have consistently been exceptional. Friendly, professional and, unlike many other club lounges, they offer to bring you food and drinks from the moment you arrive. This table service enhances the whole lounge experience. They also make an excellent tea from fresh tea leaves so you can happily spend all day working without even having to leave your seat.
The food in this lounge is my one caveat against this lounge being the best club lounge in London. The breakfast and afternoon tea are excellent but the evening offering is lacking.
The breakfast (served 06.30-11.00) is a large buffet with a high-quality array of produce including smoked salmon, meats, cheeses, cereals and hummus options. There is also a full a la carte breakfast which you can order from your table. The eggs Florentine, eggs Benedict, and English breakfast are all recommended and come perfectly cooked (yolk dribbles out while the white is fully cooked) and are served to your table.
Afternoon tea (served 15.00 -17.00) is also excellent with an array of tasty sandwiches (egg, chicken tikka, ham), cakes, scones and cream as well as a really outstanding selection of teas and very good coffee options. Everything you could want in terms of cold beverages is available in the numerous fridge cabinets including sparkling and still waters, cokes, juices, even innocent smoothies.
Throughout the day unlimited kettle chips, home-made biscuits and smoked salted almonds are available.
In the evening the food offering is limited. Drinks are available 17.30-19.30 including a nice selection of canapes, but that is it. Do not expect a full evening meal – you will need to eat out. On the plus side, Theo Randall’s restaurant downstairs is excellent and you are missing out if you do not try his pasta. It is worth noting that the staff in the lounge are incredibly generous with topping up and supplying drinks. Champagne, cocktails, beers and wines are available and expect to be pestered into “just another one” at 19.30 before the bar closes. In fact, staff have often suggested lining up 2 or 3 beers or glasses of wine to keep us topped up through the evening.
Is this the lounge to end all lounges and the best hotel club lounge in London? Yes and no. I love it, but be prepared for the hefty price tag. Intercontinental Ambassador loyalty members are currently charged £78.00 per room per night on top of the room rate for up to 2 people (if you are booked into a superior room or above). For non-Ambassador members, the rate is £114.00 for two people. Don’t forget to also factor in the cost of eating out.
This lounge is my personal favourite and I will be back for the kind staff, the table service, the daytime food offering and of course the bird’s eye view of London with my dinky cars weaving around the roundabout.
London & the Intercontinental Park Lane also features in my pick of the best destinations in Europe for 2017.
Disclosure: Our property, service and product reviews are sponsored by the proprietor or brand being appraised. All opinions remain our own and are in no way influenced by the sponsor.