Travel: Passport to the future at Eccleston SquareBy Sarah Hamilton
January 08, 2013
It’s 2013 and although lunar colonies, flying cars and robot housemaids have not arrived as predicted in the 1960s, a hi-tech experience for hotel guests has finally landed.
About time too, says Reading Post news editor Sarah Hamilton
A stone's throw from Victoria bus and train station and all the cute shops and restaurants in Pimlico in the other direction, is Eccleston Square Hotel.
Housed in two Georgian townhouses in this leafy part of London, it is unassuming and almost missable from the outside.
Inside it is chic, cosy, luxurious and packed with technical wizardy good enough for James Bond’s Q.
It is part of the Design Hotels group, which gathers unique, independent hotels with an original offering, and is also adults-only.
We were given a Prestige King room – keyless entry by wafting a card over a panel – with a balcony which was a lovely treat to look out on to the Square and comings and goings, even though the room itself was a little cramped.
However, arriving in the evening after work saw us mainly relaxing on our Hästens massage bed, which has vibrating feet and head areas of varying intensities.
The top and bottom sections can also move up and down – useful if you need to elevate your feet a little or prop yourself up for ultimate TV viewing comfort.
We decided to have dinner in one of the restaurants in nearby Pimlico – the hotel also has its own bistro if you don’t want to go out – and on returning set out to try out the rest of the room’s gadgets.
As with most technical goodies, their proficiency is dependent on basics but essentials like power, signal and so on, which proved problematic when we tried to use the room’s iPad2 to hire one of the hotel’s 3D films.
Firstly you needed a passcode to get into your iPad, which we did not have, so we had to use the landline to call down to reception to enquire what our passcode was, which sort of defeated the object.
Once connected into the machine, while we could browse the films on offer, the actual remote booking of the movie – which would alert a concierge of our selection and ensure delivery to our room all at the touch of a button – was not working so yet again we had to resort to the room’s phone to speak to someone on reception.
It went on. Once armed with Resident Evil: Retribution, the 3D Blu Ray player just would not work.
Ah, the plug was slightly out of the socket, which was not noticeable as it was tucked away, but until this could be discovered the poor concierge had to be summoned to fidget with the machine.
Playing with the remote control for the curtains provided some sport in the meantime.
Once that was all sorted, watching a 3D Blu Ray from the comfort of a cosy bed which could be articulated to your liking, was great fun, although I wish the TV was slightly further away – impossible with such a cramped room.
On a more positive note, the next morning it was amusing messing about with the touch-panel button which changed the glass in the shower from opaque to clear.
Room lights are also operated from such a touch-panel with its futuristic blue glow.
The free Wifi was of course very useful to use with one’s own phone or iPad.
The rooms also have complimentary Nespresso coffee, tea and water and L’Occitane wash goodies in the bathroom.
There is also 24-hour room service.
Breakfast the next morning was very pleasant in the small restaurant, a relaxed little place which becomes Bistrot on the Square for lunch and dinner.
My husband had a very good fry-up while my Eggs Benedict was excellent, all washed down with super freshly squeezed orange juice.
In the next room was the hotel’s impressive 103in Panasonic 3D Media Wall TV, a space which can also be used for small parties and business conferences.
It does surprise me that more hotels in London are not more tech-savvy these days – or do they think the risk of gadgets not working is too much and they would be left with frustrated customers?
Perhaps. But if you’re looking for a smart boutique hotel with courteous staff, away from the hustle and bustle of central London, then the Eccleston does set itself apart with its whizzy extras.
Sarah stayed at the Eccleston Square Hotel, 37 Eccleston Square, London, SW1V 1PB.
Visit www.ecclestonsquarehotel.com or call 020 3489 1000.
Rooms start from £195.