Sunday, 26 September 2010

Minor British Institutions: Battersea Power Station - This Britain, UK - The Independent

The "upside down ping-pong table" seems unlikely to last another decade. Its windows are smashed, its roof caved in, and one of its chimneys is held up by scaffolding. It is on English Heritage's "Buildings at Risk" register, which seems an understatement.

Only in Britain could a much-loved national monument be allowed to decay for more than two decades. And yet that has been the pitiful fate of Giles Gilbert Scott's 1935 masterpiece, Battersea Power Station. It is shameful, given that it is an integral part of the London skyline. Indeed, since the demise of the Crystal Palace in 1936, it is pretty much the symbol of south London.

In any case, the "upside down ping-pong table" seems unlikely to last another decade. Its windows are smashed, its roof caved in, and one of its chimneys is held up by scaffolding. It is on English Heritage's "Buildings at Risk" register, which seems an understatement.

Battersea finds some use as a phantasmagoric film set, but all the proposals for theme parks and the like have come to nothing. The transformation of Scott's Bankside power station into Tate Modern is a standing indictment of the astonishing failure to preserve Battersea. Where's the Lotto money when we need it?

Public opinion helps decide London’s top 10 boutique hotels

By Benedita Rodriguez

Travelling in and out of London being an occupational hazard, I’m oft faced with the dilemma of choosing the right digs to swish in and out with maximum comfort and minimum hassle. How else can one get rid of the interminable exhaustion that starts in the air and continues on the ground with tiresome commutes? Having to make it from one appointment to the next, what more do you need at the end of the day than to kick those pumps off and curl the tension off your toes on lush rugs. So, the all-important question that swoops in: What’s best for Aunty Travelbags!

If you’re in London for three days and more, my experience says boutique hotels are the way to go. But, ah, what should be your choice? Here’s when you dive into your laptop, browse and surf to find something that fits into your whole idea of comfort with, maybe, a little added oomph. Sometimes you get lucky, and many a times, not!

I came across this interesting article I read some time ago, written by Laura Porter of, citing top ten luxury boutique hotels in London, eight of which I’d tried and tested (I would not have added a couple of them), but Laura’s piece inspired me to get a head start on my own top 10 list.

I know what I look for in a hotel, and I’m the plain vanilla sort (with maybe an exotic berry or two at times), I assume most urbanites are like me – need just the right bit of everything – classy comfort, quality furnishings, nice restaurant, place to chill, have an afternoon cuppa, work out the tension at the gym or languish in a Jacuzzi, to round up the day with a sumptuous meal and fine wine.

Personal taste and views notwithstanding, there is absolutely no question about the fact that the best pulse one can gain on any product quality is from people. In fact it is public opinion – actual consumers and utilizers of services – that becomes the key driving force in development and setting up of industry standards. To make my research as fair and accurate as possible, it was focused on gathering data from the most reliable internet public forums where rules and regulations, verification and authenticity checks are so stringent that posting is enabled only if verification confirms the writer’s legitimacy – if he has booked through the site, and actually stayed at the hotel. It was important for me to determine my sites of reference given posters’ frivolity and exaggeration that unfortunately comes with the territory.

With public opinion as the main ingredient of my work, the entire exercise was developed on a very simple formula:

1.Establish criteria first: In this case, hotels comprising of between 40-90 rooms.
2.Select hotels already appearing in the top ten and add on from your own bouquet (like Covent Garden Hotel, Rafayel on the Left Bank, Milestone);
3.Make quick comparisons of basic and deluxe amenities with perhaps a little “something extra” (like free WiFi, car park, zero service charges, or in-house gym and spa facilities, etc.);
4.Pick the most reliable public sites, in this case I selected, and ;
5. Check the number of reviews posted by people, in the x number of months since hotel appeared on the booking site;
6.Attribute scores to guest review: Excellent (between 8-10 marks): 15 points; Very Good (between 6-7.9 marks): 10 points; Average (between 4-5.9 marks): 0 points; Poor (Between 2-3.9 marks): -10 points; and Terrible (Below 2): -15.

Even if I say so myself, my research yielded such interesting results! I got to learn more about London hotels and the hottest trends, what’s in and what’s out, in a remarkably short span of dedicated quality time! Here’s the rank card:

Scores have been calculated by attributing points to each guest review on, and up until 12 August 2010. For example, Hotel Rafayel has been operational and appearing on TripAdvisor for the last 7 months. Total guest reviews in 7 months number 140, of which 90 rank it “Excellent”(so, x15); 22 “Very Good (x10); 26 “Average” (x0); 2 “Poor” (x-10). Scores from the 3 sites give Rafayel a total score of 4655.

Hotel Rafayel

Rafayel room with a view
#1 Hotel Rafayel on the Left Bank
34 Lombard Road
London SW11 3RF, United Kingdom
020 7801 3600

Number of rooms: 65
Rafayel boasts 65 designer “smart” rooms, champagne bar and riverside restaurant, brasserie, bakery, florist, penthouse and conference facilities, exhibition spaces as well as the latest River Wellbeing Spa treatments and gym. Rafayel is one of the world’s most advanced luxury green hotels and proves that hotels can dramatically reduce their carbon emission output without compromising on five-star luxury, quality or comfort. Located on the River Thames at the heart of London’s most dynamic riverside development, with sweeping views across to Chelsea Harbour, Rafayel is minutes from the shopping areas of Sloane Square and Knightsbridge and is close to Victoria Station and London’s major attractions.
Property Amenities: Business Center, Fitness Center, Free High-Speed Internet, Parking, Pets Allowed, Restaurant, Room Service, Swimming Pool

Read Reviews on Rafayel

#2 Threadneedles Hotel
The Threadneedles
5 Threadneedle Street
London EC2R 8AY, United Kingdom
020 7657 8080

Number of rooms: 69
Small, Victorian-style Boutique Hotel located in the heart of the financial district.
Property Amenities: Business Center, Free High-Speed Internet, Restaurant

Read Reviews on Threadneedles

#3 The Soho Hotel
The Soho Hotel
4 Richmond Mews
London W1D 3DH, England

Number of rooms: 91
The Soho Hotel has 91 individually designed bedrooms, suites and apartments and is situated in a quiet street in the heart of London’s entertainment neighbourhood. It is surrounded by some of London’s best restaurants and bars, vibrant cafes and most exciting theatre and nightlife.
Property Amenities: Business Center, Fitness Center, Restaurant

Read Reviews on The Soho Hotel

#4 The Milestone Hotel
The Milestone Hotel
1 Kensington Court
London W8 5DL, United Kingdom
020 7917 1000

Number of rooms: 63
Elegant Hotel housed within a meticulously restored Grand Victorian Mansion dating from 1882.
Property Amenities: Business Center ,Fitness Center ,Free High-Speed Internet, Pets Allowed, Restaurant ,Room Service, Swimming Pool

Read Reviews on The Milestone Hotel

#5 Covent Garden Hotel
10 Monmouth Street
Covent Garden Hotel
London WC2H 9HB, United Kingdom
020 7806 1000

Number of rooms: 58
Covent Garden Hotel is situated in the heart of the theatre district and is just a short walk to the Royal Opera House, Soho and within easy reach of the city’s business centre. It is surrounded by some of London’s best restaurants and bars, vibrant cafes and most exciting theatre, nightlife and shopping.
Property Amenities: Business Center, Fitness Center, Restaurant

Read Reviews on Covent Garden

#6 The Gore
The Gore
190 Queen’s Gate
Kensington, London SW7 5EX, United Kingdom
020 7584 6601

Number of rooms: 54
The Gore Hotel is located in the central location of South Kensington, just west of the very centre of London. An upmarket and smart area of London and just behind the Royal Albert Hall (famous music and events venue). Also a very short walk (100 yards) from Hyde Park and Kensington Palace. Close by is the fashionable and popular shopping area of Kensington High Street and a little further on finds Knightsbridge (home the world famous Harrods department store). The hotel is actually made up of two nineteenth century mansions. Today it’s a stylish Victorian hotel with modern amenities and facilities.
Property Amenities: Business Center, Restaurant, Room Service

Read Reviews on The Gore

Baglioni Hotel
#7 Baglioni Hotel
60 Hyde Park Gate – Kensington
London, SW7 5BB, United Kingdom
020 7368 5700

Number of rooms: 66
The Baglioni London is situated in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, close to the Royal Albert Hall and Harrods, with stunning views of Kensington Palace and Gardens. As part of the Leading Small Hotels of the World the Baglioni provides a 5 star deluxe environment, with unique Italian style and design. The hotel has 67 rooms & suites, with traditional English Butler service, a Baglioni Spa with gym, and our Brunello Restaurant.
Property Amenities: Business Center, Fitness Center, Free High-Speed Internet, Restaurant, Room Service

Read Reviews on Baglioni

The Halkin
#8 The Halkin
5 Halkin Street
Belgravia, London SW1X 7DJ, England
+44 20 7333 1000

Number of rooms: 41
The Halkin is a haven in the heart of London’s exclusive Belgravia. This intimate 41 room hotel is a discreet, chic, insider’s address with some of the best suites in town, as well as a Michelin-starred restaurant, Nahm, by Australian chef David Thompson. Expect exquisite attention to detail. Interiors feature crisp yet cosseting wools, silks and linens in cool taupes and creams as well as some of the largest bathrooms in London.
Property Amenities: Business Center ,Fitness Center, Free High-Speed Internet, Restaurant, Room Service

Read reviews on The Halkin

Charlotte Street Hotel
#9 Charlotte Street Hotel
15-17 Charlotte Street
London W1T 1RJ, United Kingdom
020 7806 2000

Number of rooms: 52
Charlotte Street Hotel is situated in the media neighbourhood just north of Soho. It is a minute’s walk from leafy Soho Square and the theatre district, within easy reach of the financial centre and is surrounded by some of London’s best bars, restaurants and cafes. Designer Kit Kemp has used a ‘Bloomsbury Group’ theme throughout the hotel which features original art from the period and a mural in the brasserie reflecting scenes of ‘contemporary London life’.
Property Amenities: Business Center, Fitness Center, Restaurant, Room Service

Read Reviews on Charlotte Street Hotel

The Hempel
#10 The Hempel Hotel
31 Craven Hill Gardens
Bayswater, United Kingdom W2 3EA, United Kingdom
020 7298 9000

Number of rooms: 50
The Hempel is a 5 star luxury boutique hotel in West London. The Hempel is located North of Hyde Park and just 5 minute walk to Paddington Station. The Hempel Luxury Hotel rooms are all individually designed with luxury products including bathrobes, slippers, candles and Wi-Fi ability. Room types range from Superior and Deluxe through to Junior and Superior Suite that come with a seating area allowing more space to relax and enjoy the 5 star designer surroundings.
Property Amenities: Business Center, Fitness Center, Free High-Speed Internet, Restaurant, Room Service

Read Reviews on The Hempel

Hotel Designers get a 100% Grilling

Yesterday’s ‘Question Time’ hosted by IDA at the 100% Design Exhibition put the designers on the spot and gave them a good old grilling. The debate was chaired by BLUEPRINT Magazine founder & all round architectural impresario Peter Murray. Panel members included Iqbal Latif (IL), Developer of the renowned Hotel Rafayel, Stephan Oberwegner (SO), MD, at Max Bentheim and Dexter Moren (DM) of Dexter Moren Associates. Read this Despoke event report to get the full low down…

Is the clients brand more important than the design? And can very strong branding guidelines ever be detrimental to the development of the design?

DM commented that in his experience higher profile brands are usually less prescriptive with their design briefs. If the brand is easily recognisable, the designer had more freedom to bend the rules without alienating the consumer.

SO largely agreed but acknowledged that of course any brand has a certain identity to maintain and it is the job of the designer to create something unique that works within these parameters. He went on to point out that it is often the requests of private clients that can be the most restrictive as their close input and emotional investment in the design often invades the design process in a destructive way.

To what extent should architects and designers be addressing sustainability issues today?

IL The hotel industry is a hugely wasteful one and it is the job of the designer to lead the way when it comes to enforcing change. I have coined the phrase “affordable luxury”. In my hotel, we never compromise in the experience of the guest but we’re always looking for ways to compromise on waste. Architectural design must start taking the issues of consumption and waste into serious consideration.

DM agreed with IL, firmly asserting his belief that “Anybody who is not addressing sustainability at the moment must be stupid!”

Have you noticed the needs of building owners and developers to be evolving and if so, how are they changing?

DM explained that electronic technology is fast becoming requested as standard by clients. The constant evolution of innovative new gadgets means that clients are always trying to get ahead of the curve so that they can offer their customers the most cutting edge technology. In the future hotel guests will be able to check into their rooms using their mobile phones and there will be no need for any sort of reception service.

SO highlighted that in his experience such a rapid emphasis on electronic technology has lead to very different requests from his clients. Many have shown a desire to move away from the modern, requesting to go back to basics design using only natural, locally sourced, quality materials. These clients don’t want to battle with new technologies and crave a humble organic design that feels real and honest.

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Why Hotel Rafayel is so eco-special?

Reported in 'The Economist' today we are already partner with Philips to use these cutting edge LED technologies @ The Rafayel.

...''Philips, which is based in the Netherlands, has produced a strip of lighting made from OLEDs that can be powered directly from a mains electricity supply. That may not seem to be a brilliant invention, but in the lighting business it is a breakthrough. Although still at the laboratory stage, it will eventually mean that bulky power electronics and transformers will no longer have to be used with OLED lights, which brings down costs, simplifies design and allows them to be fitted into more products. In recent years the emergence of mains-powered CFLs and LEDs has started to turn them into direct plug-in replacements for incandescent bulbs.

OLEDs, however, will fulfil a different role.

Compared to an incandescent bulb, which might cost only about 50 cents and burn for 1,000 hours, CFLs cost around $3—although they use up to 75% less power and last much longer. LED lights cost a lot more, but they are even more efficient. Osram, which is part of Germany’s Siemens, recently launched the Parathom Classic, a LED lamp shaped like conventional 60 Watt light bulb. It uses 90% less power than an old-type bulb and has an average life of 25,000 hours. It has gone on sale in Europe for around €50 ($64). ''

Monday, 6 September 2010

Rafayel's - Harry Bass Man of the Match

Herts County Final - Rafayel's Harry Bass Man of the Match
(Sunday, 5th September.)

Saturday, 4 September 2010

River Wellbeing Spa at The Rafayel Hotel

River Wellbeing Spa at The Rafayel Hotel says:Created to inspire and guide
you to complete health, the River Wellbeing Spa incorporates beauty treatments and grooming services alongside exercise programmes and traditional wellbeing techniques. The core belief stems from the understanding that optimal health is the best way to increase vitality, energy and radiance.

Our experienced therapists provide a range of treatments from organic beauty therapies to bathing rituals and wellbeing weekends. Incorporating traditional alongside modern methods allows treatments to be tailored to meet your individual needs.

Wellbeing services include personal training, nutritional therapy and acupuncture. Products used during the treatments are 100% natural and organic and incorporate the most advanced natural ingredients being used today. When sourcing the products for our treatments we choose to use the very best nature can provide. Using the Amala range of products means that the spa therapies use only 100% natural ingredients of the purest and highest grade. Amala translates from Sanskrit as 'most pure', and reflects their commitment to both pure quality and pure intentions. Amala believe when it comes to skincare you shouldn't have to choose between results and responisbility.

The River Wellbeing Spa facilities include: State of the art fitness studio hydrotherapy pool, exercise pool, sauna and steam rooms, private treatment rooms, bathing ritual room with afinity bath and relaxation room.

Review by Cooper1

A friend of mine booked me in to the spa as a birthday treat, and not really being into massages I was almost unbothered to go. Anyway, I am glad I did. From past massages and experiences, the massage I experienced at River Wellbeing was beyond my expectations. The therapist made me feel extremely comfortable and I was in a back room which was quiet and luxurious. In the past when I have gone to a spa, the treatment rooms are often off a corridor wihch means you can hear people coming and going. This experience was the total opposite. At the beginning of the treatment the therapist told me which oils she was going to use, and then at the end of the 60 minute massage she left me to adjust my mind back to reality. In my opinion this was something I really noticed, as often after a massage I have been hurried off the bed in time for the next person.

The massage was incredibly relaxing, the staff were warm, polite and proffessional, the decor reminded me of a far away retreat and the hotel itself was very nice.

Review by walander

I had heard about cosmetic acupuncture before but had been a little cautious to try it and was surprised to find when I stayed at the hotel that they had this treatment available and so I took the plunge and decided to try it. The thought of having needles in my face made me very nervous but my therapist Laura was amazing she instantly put me at ease with her professionalism and gentle manner. She explained everything she was going to do (a full facial where needles are used instead of a mask). It was amazing the best facial I have ever had, I hardly felt the needles go in and I could feel like a calm wave of energy through my body - who knew having nearly 50 needles in my face could be so relaxing!! I was equally amazed by the results my skin was glowing, I felt totally energised and even my wrinkles seemed less well wrinkly - I couldn't recommend it enough - amazing you have to try it!!

Friday, 3 September 2010

Banyan Riverside (Restaurant/Hotel)

Rafayel on the Left Bank, Falcon Wharf Building, 34 Lombard Road, Battersea Reach, London, SW11 3RF (Map)

Cuisine: International

Tel: Not on file Transport: Clapham Junction (Write review)

A hotel restaurant invariably has to try twice as hard as a regular restaurant. The negative associations they conjure up don’t exactly scream ‘atmospheric destination dining’: soulless room dotted with table-for-one business-trippers, desperately trying to appear relaxed as they juggle a book, a blackberry and a forkful of bland modern-European food, the likes of which is replicated all over the world. In fact they're more likely to quietly mumble 'somewhere to go because you’ve just arrived, it’s getting late, the weather’s bad and investigating the area’s other dining options is way too much hassle, so you might as well just eat here'.

Add an out of the way location (Battersea’s up-and-coming-but-still-some-way-to-go-yet Falcon Wharf), and one of the worst economic periods the restaurant business has seen in years, and it’s fair to say Banyan on the Thames has its work cut out.

All credit, then, to Banyan’s staff for making this a welcoming and relaxed place to eat (once we finally found it). Ene, Liina and Marko were everything good restaurant staff should be, but rarely are: charming, attentive without being pushy, eager to make recommendations and - most importantly - proud as punch of their new workplace.

And, negative hotel restaurant stereotypes aside, they have good reason to be optimistic about this one’s future, because while Banyan’s sleek, modern décor and obligatory bird-of-paradise floral displays can be found in umpteen European city hotels, the views from its riverside terrace set it apart from that crowd.

As soon as the sun comes out, the doors are flung open and the outside terrace fills up, this is sure to be transformed into a dining spot worth seeking out, whether you’re helicoptering in on business (the restaurant is next door to London Heliport) or a local looking for a meal with a difference. Decent London al fresco dining opportunities are, after all, even more rare than inspiring hotel restaurants.

Attached to the newly opened Rafayel on the Left Bank, one of the world’s first environmentally conscious luxury hotels, Banyan also breaks the mould with its fusion menu. There are enough traditional favourites to avoid offending the hotel guests, several interesting twists, and Indian specialties that are particularly successful.

Heck, I’d go back for the delicious tarka dahl alone, and, as a massive lentil fan, that’s saying something. Served with some of the biggest, meatiest lamb chops I have ever encountered, which had been expertly marinated in a special mix of spices, this was anything but bland and predictable food.

Admittedly, the starters were more formulaic. The (sautéed king prawn) salad looked like it might have come out of a bag from Tesco Express up the road and featured the obligatory balsamic zig zag drizzle. The Cromer Crab, mango and king prawn with chilli and coriander raita, however, delivered well-balanced flavour. Honourable mentions also go to the selection of plain, peshwari, cheese and garlic naan, fresh out of the tandoor oven and verging on perfection in bread form, and the Kheer Brulee dessert, a caramelised Indian rice pudding.

Banyan’s wine list also covers a broad global selection. Here, once again, the staff were the stars and happily recommended several reasonably-priced options, including a Fortant de France Syrah rosé and a delicious South African Chenin Blanc, which pared well with our food choices.

Considering there is next-to-zero chance of passing trade, and that we visited on a freezing cold and rainy midweek evening, the restaurant was surprisingly full, with a chic European-looking clientele to match its décor and - mostly Estonian - staff. At one table overlooking the water, what looked to be the Lithuanian equivalent of Pete Doherty and his model girlfriend shamelessly lingered for hours over a bottle of wine. A couple of tables up, a group of smartly dressed Italian hedge-fund manager-types were catching up on business - a lone nod to the kind of corporate customer found in most hotel dining rooms.

The atmosphere here really is far more relaxed and intimate than first impressions might suggest, and Banyan on the Thames definitely has the potential to become an exception to the hotel restaurant rule. I really hope it achieves this, if for no other reason than to keep its lovely staff smiling.


• Large riverside terrace

• Part of a luxury eco hotel so if you miss the bus you can always stay over

• Great Indian dishes

No good:

• Difficult to find

• Desolate in Winter

• Has the windiest bus stop this side of Canary Wharf Kelly Parsons (24 02 2010)

Banyan Riverside London Description

Rafayel on Battersea’s new Left Bank, is set to be one of the world’s first ‘green’ hotels. Officially opening in December 2009, this 5-star hotel is part of the pioneering Falcon Wharf Development, and a blueprint for future hotels. Rafayel is the first of a dynamic concept headed by developer Mr Ike Latif, who aims to create a branded product that embraces technological advances yet is ecologically aware.

The waterfront 120-cover restaurant, Banyan Riverside, with its crystal bar overlooking the river, will offer simple, affordable food, presented in a grill style menu. Rafayel’s restaurants will offer both formal and casual dining, breakfast, morning brunches, and traditional afternoon tea, a first in the Battersea area.