Here at House of Coco, we love to fly and hardly need an excuse to jump on a flight heading somewhere. However, we also embrace the idea of staycations. They allow us to enjoy the feeling of going away without the added hassle of packing suitcases and dealing with airport transfers and security. Team Coco’s Omo & Eulanda Osagiede visited West London’s K West Hotel & Spa to experience one.
Reconnecting with our city and with each other
London remains one of the most iconic cities on the planet and international travellers seem to agree. Figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) International Passenger Survey, indicate that there were 18.6m international visits to London in 2015. That number rose 8% the following year (19.1m in 2016). Staycations are a great way to reconnect with our home city which, to be honest, we take for granted sometimes.
Apart from the opportunity to reconnect with London, we love staycations for the opportunity to reconnect with each other. Our busy lifestyles and hyper connectedness to the digital world can be exhausting, turning life into one big blur. Finding an oasis in a cosmopolitan city like London, where we can tune out the noise around us and prioritise time with each other, is always a welcome treat.
Recently, the opportunity arose for an overnight stay at K West Hotel & Spa in Shepherd’s Bush, West London. This sounded like the perfect opportunity to reconnect with a part of London we hardly find time to explore.
Heritage meets Contemporary Chic at K West Hotel and Spa
Shepherd’s Bush is one of those London urban centres which somehow manages to make trendiness, while being rough around the edges look cool. Obvious signs of gentrification flowing over from neighbouring Hammersmith, Notting Hill and Fulham do nothing to change the character of the area.
One key heritage feature of Shepherd’s bush is its links to British broadcasting. The old BBC Television Centre (affectionately known as the ‘Concrete Doughnut) in White City was the home of the British broadcasting giant from 1960 to 2013 before main operations were relocated to Broadcasting House in central London.
As well as television production, the local area’s music heritage is also noteworthy. Nearby Hammersmith once boasted three of London’s top music venues including the Shepherd’s Bush Empire. British music A-listers including Amy Winehouse, Freddie Mercury and One Direction are all said to have lived or worked in the area at some point in their recording careers.
Connecting this artistic legacy to the present, K West Hotel itself is housed in what was once the BBC’s Kensington House recording studios. Walking through the lobby, we reimagined K West’s Studio Bar area as a place where Bob Marley may have hung out in the 70s while the sounds of David Bowie’s ‘Ziggy Stardust’ echoed through the corridors.
We were quickly brought back to the present day by a striking painting hanging in the hotel’s reception. Twiggy, a piece of work by Adele Nash was featured as part of an art exhibition hosted by sister hotel, Lancaster London. The painting, together with the black granite cocktail bar and drop-column chandeliers, gave the ground floor reception a vibrant urban-chic look and feel.
Getting it right with travel technology
We were given a third floor Executive room easily accessible from the ground floor via lifts. Perhaps due to building restrictions, the lifts felt quite small when compared with the size of the property (over 200 rooms), the scale of which isn’t immediately apparent from the outside.
Ours wasn’t a room with a view. However, large windows let in enough natural light to keep us from feeling claustrophobic. The room itself had enough by way of comfort and gadgetry to keep us occupied. A super king size bed occupied the centre of the room, framed by a large headboard at the rear and a plush bench at the foot of the bed.
The room configuration left enough space for a large sofa, coffee table, an independent work space and ample storage (drawers and wardrobe). The room’s contemporary design, subtle colours and soft furnishings combined to create a soothing ambience. The bathroom’s limestone walls and White Company accessories added a touch of luxury to the rest of the room.
It came as a pleasant surprise to see that the hotel had given some thought to the demands of the modern traveller. The room came with fast WiFI, sufficient power outlets for our multiple devices, an in-room tablet for guest use and a large ‘Smart TV’ preconfigured with streaming apps.
We were especially thrilled to find a piece of travel innovation from Tinklabs, a Handy (actual brand name) smartphone activated with voice and data and useful city guides which guests can use during their stay. Except for the slightly outdated Bose sound system, K West Hotel appear to have hit a homerun with the room’s technology.
British Afternoon Tea with a Rock and Roll Swagger
Shepherd’s Bush is a great base for exploring West London. Home to one of London’s Westfield shopping centres, the location offers good transportation links into the city, and access to conference venues, local restaurants, bars and live-music venues like the famous Hammersmith Apollo.
We chose to have a lazy start the next morning before walking across the road to Westfield to browse the shops. The hotel’s breakfast included both buffet and cooked options. Although the quality of food was decent, the service felt rather rushed and impersonal and soon we were on our way to Westfield.
As every experienced shopper can attest, pounding the escalators and walkways of large shopping malls can be exhausting work. Therefore, satisfied with our morning’s effort, we returned to the hotel in time for afternoon tea.
Leveraging the building’s music legacy, K West Hotel have added some rock-and-roll swagger to their version of the classic British Afternoon Tea. Our ‘Glam Rock Afternoon Tea’ included a presentation of herbal tea blends, the highlight of which was something called the ‘Tea Rex’, a smoky flavoured herbal tea with a soothing floral undertone.
The herbal tea presentation was followed by a serving tower of mini club sandwiches (including ham and chicken, avocado, red pepper and mozzarella fillings), brioche sliders, scones with clotted cream and homemade jams, and a selection of macaroons and other sweets. Including gluten free options on the menu was a thoughtful addition by K West’s Studio Kitchen.
No rock-and-roll experience would be complete without cocktails and we were delighted to try a selection of five shots of tea infused versions including one called Stardust (a clear homage to the late Sir David Bowie) which had Maker’s Mark whisky infused with cherry blossom tea,
Blue Curaçao, Archers Peach Schnapps and lemonade.
Chasing away Winter blues at the K Spa
We rounded off our staycation with a visit to the award-winning ‘K Spa’, the hotel’s impressively spacious wet spa. Spas are a great place to digitally detox and practice a bit mindfulness and we appreciated the opportunity to spend a relaxing afternoon without distraction.
A combination therapy of their ‘Snow Paradise’ (with real snow at -15℃) and a Scandinavian sauna created an interesting temperature dynamic which (according to the experts) is good for the immune system and skin. Other spa facilities included a steam room, a hydrotherapy pool with submersed reclining beds and foot baths.
While reclining in the spa’s ‘Sun Meadow’ room, offering a low intensity light therapy, we considered how handy that experience would be during the long winter months when seasonal affective disorder (S.A.D) tends to become an issue. We made a mental note to return and perhaps combine that with a massage treatment to truly chase away the winter blues.
Lounging in the hotel’s library afterwards, we picked through an interesting selection of literature and classic vinyls, another nice touch which highlighted the hotel’s music legacy. Our staycation at K West Hotel & Spa had provided a welcome opportunity to slow down, rebalance and reconnect. In a city where life can sometimes feel like driving fast car at top speed, finding a relaxing space such as this is itself, a luxury
K West Hotel Executive rooms start from £160 per night (check site for current rates). Afternoon tea prices start at £28.50 per person and are available between 14:00 and 18:00 Monday to Sunday. Access to K Spa facilities is not included in the room rate and comes at an extra charge of £20 per person. Book at k-west.co.uk.