We were supposed to be on a mini-break after GCSE in Mallorca, but the ever-changing status of testing and quarantine made us take an LNER train to London instead of a Jet 2 flight to Palma.
I have to say I was less than excited to get back on the plane so early and the train seemed like a much safer option. Straight from York to London King’s Cross, we were at the Capitol in under two and a half hours. Staff and travel companions were all masked, which I hope will remain after the restrictions were eased on July 19.
Our home for the next two nights was the Dilly – the renowned and renovated five star hotel in Piccadilly.
As the name suggests, The Dilly is a bit of fun. Its listed exterior facade in the heart of London’s West End and close to Soho, Green Park and Buckingham Palace – in fact, I would say its location would take a long time for all the reasons for your visit – is a traditional upscale hotel from London. Its interior is a more modern boutique hotel with bold dark blue paint in the lobby and an unusual ‘Dilly’ hanging from the ceiling,
Awe-inspiring flower displays are the first thing that greets you – a florist in the lobby of Pulbrook & Gould – with a long history of flowers for high society and celebrities – provides the hotel’s floral displays.
The second thing is the hotel’s experienced head concierge (and guide for our tour) Paul Whittle. Paul has been at the Dilly, which goes by other names, for 35 years and what he doesn’t know about this impressive building isn’t worth knowing.
First opened in 1908 as The Piccadilly Hotel, The Dilly has 28 suites and 255 rooms. Those in the suites will have access to their own living room located above the main hall.
At the heart of The Dilly’s philosophy are the best local London or local produce wherever possible throughout the hotel, from room amenities to dining options.
But it’s not just its location that makes The Dilly stand out from the crowd.
The Dilly has what must be the largest indoor swimming pool of any London hotel, access to an impressive gym with a range of machines, a gym and more. Newly reopened By Yoma beauty spa offers a full range of treatments
As you dig deeper into this massive hotel, The Dilly reveals more surprise in the form of its own in-house dance studio – Inspiration 2 Dance – where guests can learn Smooth, Latin, and Ballroom from a list of world champions in private or in group Classes.
Restaurants include Terrace at The Dilly – a bright space with a slanted glass ceiling that includes an outdoor balcony that overlooks Piccadilly and was the scene of many swim and dance parties in the 1920s and 1930s. Terrace at The Dilly features a menu inspired by ‘British classics’, prepared with regional produce, all surrounded by an array of houseplants and a balcony overlooking Piccadilly itself. This is where the hotel serves its famous Peter Rabbit afternoon tea. Although we haven’t tried it ourselves – not quite what my 16 year old daughter was looking for – it looked amazing and received rave reviews.
After an early dinner at the Terrace, Paul kindly reserved a seat for us for the Euro 2020 semi-finals at Sophie’s Steakhouse in Soho where the atmosphere (and the cocktails) matched the result. The food looked so tasty, all cooked over a huge fire pit, that we came back for lunch the next day and were not disappointed. Returning to The Dilly after the match was an experience in itself as jubilant fans climbed to the tops of buses and phone booths to celebrate England making it to the final. (it’s a shame that the result is not so good)
After soaking up the atmosphere of Piccadilly Circus which quickly returned to the luxurious comforts of our hotel room, this was one of some 40 that were renovated in a vast program of works started during the first lockdown when the hotel was forced to close.
The room had everything you would expect from an upscale hotel of this caliber, although some furnishings could use some improvement. But the two double beds were super comfy, and the fluffy robes and slippers always add nice durability. There is tea and coffee and we had amazing chocolates and macrons in our room. The mini bar was empty but I believe this is due to Covid compliance. But room service is available 25/7.
The second evening, we dined in the sumptuous surroundings of Madhu’s pop-up restaurant and bar at Dilly in the Oak Room, Grade II listed, which offers Punjabi cuisine with a Kenyan touch. The restaurant was once run by Yorkshire-born Marco Pierre White. Today’s deal is a delight for Instagrammers (there’s even an Instagram chair in the bar) The food and service was top notch – and we even got our bearings on an influencer story. .
It also shows how the Dilly mixes the traditional and the modern. In this new post-Covid era, large hotels like the Dilly are aware that they must offer more to attract new audiences while awaiting the return of foreign tourists. Paul explains plans for visitors’ experiences, including bikes with picnic baskets. It looks like The Dilly is in a good position to emerge from the pandemic
Catherine Scott and her daughter Millie were guests of The Dilly. Room categories range from the Classic Dilly Room to the Executive Dilly Suite. Prices start from £ 219.
www.thedillylondon.com or follow Facebook (www.facebook.com/thedillypiccadilly) or Instagram (www.instagram.com/thedillylondon).
Travel was courtesy of London North Eastern Railway www.lner.co.uk Fares from York to London King’s Cross start in standard class: £ 37 round trip First class: £ 91 round trip. Most seats on LNER services will require a reservation in their Seat Sure policy, although there are unreserved seats available on designated coaches. Catering has now resumed, including Eat at Your Seat in Standard class.