We spent three nights at the Royal Garden Hotel in London's Kensington District. Read on to find out if this hotel deserves its five stars.
Price: 8/10. Rooms start from about 179 GBP (269 USD) in the low season to around 290 GBP in high season, which is a good deal for this area of central London.
Location: 10/10. Amazing access to public transit—you're a less than five minute walk away from High Street Kensington tube station (District Line), and less than 15 minutes walk from Queensway (Central Line), or Gloucester Road (Piccadilly Line). Plus, a number of buses stop along Kensington High Street, so you'll be able to get pretty much anywhere in the city easily from this base. The hotel is located next to Kensington Gardens and Kensington Palace (home to Will and Kate!), and is right by all the famous Kensington High Street shopping. It's also within walking distance of Hyde Park, the Science Museum, Royal Albert Hall, and the Victoria and Albert Museum, as well as many other attractions.
Room: 9/10. We stayed in a Garden Room, which is 290 square feet and features a regular hotel bedroom setup with a king bed, but with an additional separate raised seating area with a desk, chairs and a couch. This is a great feature to have if you'll be doing work on your trip, or entertaining guests. The bathrooms were also great and spacious, with a separate shower and bathtub. The room also had great views over Kensington Gardens, and was very quiet. The light-blocking curtains were amazing, as was the comfortable bed—we could have slept all day!
Amenities: 7/10. Media hub with iPod docking station, flat-screen TV, luxury toiletries, and tea and coffee. Book directly through the hotel and receive: free Wi-Fi, vouchers for the hotel's Park Terrace restaurant, air miles, and discounted parking.
Dining: 10/10. Plenty of options at the Royal Garden Hotel—For lunch, there is Min Jiang, an upscale Chinese restaurant with incredible London skyline views. For breakfast, lunch, dinner, or a very British afternoon tea, there is the award-winning Park Terrace Restaurant, Lounge, and Bar. (Don't miss the breakfast buffet here—it's decadently bountiful.) Or, for a drink and a snack, the more casual Bertie's Bar is open from 5pm to 2am.
Recreation: 7/10. The free health club has a gym, sauna, and steam room for guests. There's also exercise classes and spa treatments available at an extra cost.
Parking: 6/10. There is a parking garage located under the hotel (but not operated by them), but you'll have to pay for it. Overnight rates are 12 GBP, which is a steal for central London, and guests can get discounts by booking parking in advance.
Service: 10/10. Service here is impeccable. The reception staff are efficient, cheerful and helpful; as are the many bellhops and doormen. Our favorite service feature: the hotel pretty much always has a black cab waiting outside, so you don't need to worry about hailing one.
General: 10/10. The hotel is located in a great, bustling part of central London, but the rooms are an oasis of calm and quiet.
Would We Stay Again?: Definitely! Although we'd have to watch the Special Offers page closely to be able to afford it.