My London hotel, La Suite West, was a little hard to find. Both cabs I took to it, one from Heathrow, another from a dinner out, motored past it. The hotel needs a big sign out front!
I’d checked La Suite West’s website many times, had emailed them about my reservation and asked sundry questions, stared at the photos, read TripAdvisor reviews and room tips, but its smallness still surprised me.
For non-disabled but not that physically capable customers, it isn’t that accessible. I found the front door hard to manage while trying to pull a small suitcase through it and carrying my camera case and purse at the same time. A doorman did appear at other hours but wasn’t there when I arrived. However the reception and bellboy, young man really, were most helpful.
The clerk checked me in quickly; she gave me coinage because banks only give you bills when you exchange dollars for pounds in Canada. She assigned me room 311 on the top floor, and the young man took my case and showed me everything, which was good because modern hotels are rather sophisticated. No more fidget with inserting a key card and door remains locked.
Nope, now there’s a contactless key card – awesome – much easier to use than old style key cards – that you simply touch to your room number pad and presto, your door opens. Even better, when inserted into the blue-lit holder just inside the door, it turns on your electricity. When you first enter a La Suite West hotel room, the hall lights go on. If you forget to insert your key card into the holder, they will go off after a couple of minutes; you’ll be in the dark. A good reminder about where that card goes!
The compact hotel room, that reminded me of a New York one, came with lots of amenities. Free tea and coffee with kettle, sugar, and several kinds of dairy and non-dairy milk. In the fridge below the coffee counter sat two tall bottles of water. Free. And replenished every day. Then there was the robe, iron, hair dryer, ladies slippers, number-code lock safe, etc. Best of all: a heated marble bathroom floor. Let me tell you, I felt the diff when I checked in to my airport hotel on my last night in England with its unheated floor. Every hotel should have warm bathroom floors.
It wasn’t long before I realized I had a connecting door and then: I could hear the folks in the next room rather too well.
I went down to reception. I mentioned it. She began looking at her laptop. I added: I could follow their conversation if I wanted to. She found a new room for me. 301. At the back, and very quiet. As I gathered up my stuff, the young man brought up my new key card, took my suitcase, and led me to the new room. He made sure it was fine and left.
It was better, not only for being quiet but also being near the elevators. Surprisingly, I couldn’t hear them whir up and down.
The only quibble I had with my room – and had the same problem at the Arora Heathrow Hotel – is there is something in the air or a cleaner they use that bothers my nose. At La Suite West, it came up on me after several minutes into a hot shower. Oh, mould, you’re saying. Perhaps, but the grout as far as I could see was clean. There was a bit in the corners of the rectangular sink, but water flowing into it did nothing to my nose. At the Arora, it was the air flow that did it. Same smell, same effect. Worse actually at the Arora because with air flow, it was always there.
The other quibble I had were the single-pane windows. A tad drafty. But in these sophisticated hotel rooms, you can set your own temp. I set mine to 25C. (23 at the Arora.)
The reason I chose this hotel was it is vegetarian and had rooms available. I soon discovered, it had lots of other advantages too. It’s near two tube stations on three Underground lines: Bayswater on Circle and District; Queensway on Central. And when I mean near, I mean real close!
Kensington Gardens is at the end of the block; Hyde Park is at the other end of the Gardens.
From this location, I set out for walks, to sightsee places like Convent Garden and the Charles Dickens Museum (yes, it is good), and to explore where I was born and spent the first months of my life. The hotel was ideally situated for all of that.
It made visiting London on my own a pleasure of exploration. And a good start to my vacation.
For folks with brain injury, especially if travelling alone, I would recommend La Suite West or a boutique hotel like it because:
- You’re not anonymous.
- There is someone to help you with your luggage sans you having to ask. A big plus for dignity.
- It has the kind of amenities considered luxurious but help us conserve energy and recover after sightseeing.
- It has healthy, yummy food that means our bodies and brains have a fighting chance at performing optimally even though we’re in a strange place.
- It makes getting around London so easy.
- Did I mention the food is yummy?