Food Critic Richard McComb enjoys the high life – on the 28th floor of the London Hilton.
It is the view that hits you first, the total glorious sweep of it. Hyde Park looks a picture in all its finery.
The Serpentine is a distant glassy pool, tapering off in Kensington Gardens. Scanning round I pick out the arch at Wembley Stadium in the distance. Calm cloaks the capital.
And then I look straight down, from my room on the 19th floor of the London Hilton, and the contrast could not be more stark.
A circus of opulence is careering up and down Park Lane at a million miles an hour – chauffeur-driven limos with blacked out windows, bright young things scuttling along in designer garb. Welcome to Mayfair. It’s loud and filthy rich.
Fortunately, I am shielded from the roaring cavalcade in my private sanctuary.
London is one of the great cities but when you are as comfortable as this, kicking back in a plush king executive room just below the cloud line – there’s even a natty cushioned seat in the window in which to stretch out – it’s very difficult to move.
The London Hilton is one of the capital’s landmark hotels with its own distinct image.
The 28-floor five-star hotel was the first outside the US for Conrad Hilton (it was 1963, the year JFK was assassinated and The Beatles released their first album, Please Please Me) and remains a byword for consistent, high-standard service. The London Hilton is, of course, part of a huge chain of more than 500 hotels throughout the world so naturally there is a corporate edge, but there is also a distinctly human face to the place. The staff say “good morning” and “good afternoon” with a genuine sense of welcome rather than a robotic glaze. Everything is on a huge scale and the grand ballroom is able to host 1,200 guests in dicky bows and cocktail dresses, but the feeling is not monolithic. I was travelling alone and felt far from lonely.