I often find myself wandering past hotels and thinking ‘I wonder what it’s like inside. What do the rooms look like? Is the restaurant any good?’. I guess I could just book a room and have a meal, but that sounds a bit extreme and pricey considering how many hotels there are in London. I also often get asked for hotel recommendations, so it is great to go to hotel show cases like the one we went to recently at the Crowne Plaza London The City, just opposite Blackfriars Station.
We met in the Voltaire Champagne Bar, home to the largest selection of Pommery champagne, where we were greeted with a glass of fizz and canapés and given the opportunity to have a look around. The first thing that strikes you is how long the bar is, so no queuing up three deep to get a drink. There are different seating areas in the bar, one cosy and intimate, the other lighter and modern, lending itself to meeting up with a group of friends. Other offerings include cocktail afternoon tea, bottomless brunch and gourmet burgers served until 11pm.
What sets Voltaire apart from any other bar in London are the vaults. Built on the foundations of Bridewell Palace, the grade II listed building features old stone vaults that kept prisoners under lock and key during the reign of King Henry VIII, and later housed the treasures of a Bank that was built in its place. Today the vaults have been transformed into luxury private VIP alcoves complete with personal waiter and available to reserve for up to 12 people. There is also a cigar terrace. And it has a late licence until 2am – handy to know!
If you want something more than just a drink, here are a few special events coming up in May and June.
10th: Cigar Masterclass
18th: Cocktail Masterclass – Champagne
24th – 27th: Chelsea Flower Show Menu
15th June – Cocktail Masterclass – Rum
Second stop on our tour was the hotel’s Italian restaurant, Diciannove. Locatelli trained Executive Chef Alessandro Bay serves classic Italian food as it should be. Handmade pasta and bread are prepared daily and the food is fresh, seasonal and regionally sourced, with special regional menus changing regularly. We got to taste some of the dishes and loved them all.
Special events at Diciannove for the next couple of months:
1st: Berry Menu
24th: Regional Menu – Venice
24th – 27th : Chelsea Flower Show Menu
30th onwards: Truffle
+ Jazz Dinner every Thursday
2nd: Republica Day
21st: Regional Dinners – Puglia
6th – 12th: Queen’s Birthday Menu
+ final Jazz Dinner on 2nd
Directly opposite from Diciannove is The Chinese Cricket Club Restaurant (handy, if you can’t decide between Italian and Chinese food), offering Sichuan cuisine and Dim Sum specialities, where we also sampled dishes from the menu. The restaurant is named in honour of the Chinese National Cricket team, who play their first international match in 2009 and the recent translation of the laws of cricket into Mandarin by the Asian Cricket Council.
Signature dishes include Crispy Orange Beef, Fried Perch with Garlic Chives and Silken Tofu. The menu also features an excellent choice of Dim Sum, including Black Cod Gow Gee and Honey Glazed Pork Puff. The chef previously worked at Hakkasan.
Here are some dates or your diary:
8th: Chinese Mother’s Day Menu
16th: Dim Sum Masterclass
24th to 27th May : Chelsea Flower Show Menu
6th to 10th June: Dragon Boat Festival
9th: Live Dragon Dance
12th: Queens Birthday Menu
19th June: Father’s Day Menu
20th: Dim Sum Masterclass
Modern art features throughout the hotel, many of it with a London theme.
We also visited a regular hotel room, which was spacious and light and geared towards business guests, and one of the special British designer inspired suites, in our case the Paul Smith inspired one, feeling more like a private living room.
And lastly we were shown the meeting and conference facilities of the hotel, complete with what the hotel offers in the way of catering.
A big thank you to the staff who made us feel very welcome. We had a great evening exploring the hotel and what it has to offer. And we are definitely coming back to the restaurants and the bar!