The Westminster is part of Hilton’s Curio collection and is, indeed, a curio. While many visitors to London are undoubtedly drawn to the joys of Mayfair and the West End, Westminster also makes a pretty compelling case.
It’s a minute’s walk from the River Thames (and some rooms have spectacular water views). It is less than half a mile from the Tate Britain. Buckingham Palace, Big Ben and Westminster Abbey are all within a mile. Pimlico station is a short walk away and the Victoria Line will take you downtown or to the eclectic joys (and booming foodie scene) of Brixton, depending on your mood and interests. It’s also located just around the corner from Tufton Street, so depending on your political leanings, you can go pat Boris Johnson’s team on the back or flick the V’s across the road…
Why come here?
Well, aside from its splendid location – you can also walk to Soho in about 30 minutes if you’re feeling so inspired – The Westminster is a pretty nice modern hotel. The beds are comfortable, the bathrooms simple and efficient, the facilities are excellent – and are still regularly changed to satisfy the gradually returning crowds – and the design makes subtle nods to the more secretive side of government life and close neighbors MI5 and 6 There are spy references and eye patterns, themes I hadn’t noticed until sales and marketing manager Joost Overwijk pointed them out during a great tour of the facilities.
There is a well-appointed gym (on the top floor with a remarkable view at the time of my visit, but there are plans to place it elsewhere) and excellent conference rooms, with state-of-the-art technology and, again once, considering the neighbors, great consideration for safety and security.
Eat and drink
The Westminster has two restaurants: Bao Yum (baos for breakfast, lunch and dinner, as well as salads, soups and sandwiches); and a branch of STK, a modern steakhouse with a vaguely infamous nightclub. The first is a fun, solid performer and something a bit different for a hotel of this ilk, the second is… well, search STK and you’ll find all sorts of opinions, from its “feminine friendly” not so great received” marketing approach, to exuberant praise for its sourcing and grilling capabilities.
On our visit to STK, ironically, the population is decidedly young and, yes, very feminine, and the cocktails, expensive sparkling wines and DJ definitely tick boxes. Our meal is somewhat mixed, where the difficult things are done brilliantly, and the simple things not so much. The “Lil’ Brgs” are nicknamed boring but a plate of excellent sliders. The calamari is superb: crispy on the outside, soft on the inside and served with a shamelessly spicy sauce.
The main event steak – a “Zabuton”, a Japanese chuck cut, between the shoulder blade and the back rib – is efficiently defined by the charming reception staff and cooked to perfection by their colleagues at the grill. The fries are also top notch. The creamed spinach, however, is the worst side dish I have ever had in a restaurant. Watery, bitter, completely inedible and the “cream” separating so much that one wonders if they used oat milk by mistake. Still, the apology is genuine, the rest is really very, very decent, so we’ll assume that’s an anomaly.
What to do…
Take a walk in the river. Congratulate or insult passing MPs. Visit the Tate. Visit Westminster Abbey. Say hello to Her Majesty… The Westminster is a comfortable base for the best of London, frankly, and with Victoria Station so close, the best of southern England too.
The Westminster, 30 John Islip Street, London SW1P 4DD; hotelwestminster.co.uk