Over the years, I’ve been lucky enough to stay in a few of the world’s nicest hotels. Personal blogs are allowed to be self-indulgent, so I might as well list a few of them here: the Park Hyatt (in Tokyo, as seen in ‘Lost In Translation’), the Blue (Sydney), Sails In The Desert (Ayers Rock), The Paramount, Hudson and Four Seasons (Manhattan, New York), The Sanderson and St. Martins Lane (London), The Ritz-Carlton and Four Seasons (San Francisco), The Kempinski (Bulgaria), The Westin (Zagreb)… I’d have never experienced most of those if it wasn’t through my work – pre-recession, when adidas flew you around the world for work, you used to travel strictly First Class throughout – and, much to the frustration of my credit card, it’s raised my standards accordingly.
When it comes to hotels closer to home, there haven’t been that many that have really stood out. Aside from the overpriced luxury hotels of London, there aren’t many that I’d book myself into just to relax (but I recommend The Hoxton at Old Street if you want true value for money in the centre of town).
I discovered the Aviator in Farnborough a couple of years ago. Technically, it’s not in London at all (it’s just south of Junction 12 of the M25, to be precise), but it’s definitely worth the trip. Built in the grounds of Farnborough Airport, the architecture is amazing. Art Deco details are contained within a modern and slick shell and if you book an airside room, you can watch the aircraft take off and land on the runway (and the soundproofing is incredible, so you’re never disturbed if that doesn’t appeal to you). It could read as a gimmick, but the reality is that it’s the crowning touch on a hotel that already passes expectations. The rooms are big and spacious, with great bathrooms (I love a bathtub that I can stretch right out in) and the AV set-up is perfect. Free films on-demand, including several brand new releases, and a Bose speaker system mean that you can spend hours doing what you’d be doing at home, but in more comfortable surroundings.
Facility-wise, there’s a first-class bar featuring a menu of well-considered cocktails, a fantastic restaurant (worth the visit in its own right), friendly and efficient staff… the list could go on forever. And you can book a suite here for half the price of a standard room in the West End. We stayed for two nights this weekend and will be returning (for the fifth time) before Christmas for another sneaky weekend away.
Do yourself a big favour and book yourself in. The Aviator is a destination in its own right rather than a stop-off on your way to foreign lands. www.aviatorfarnborough.co.uk