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A right Royal Garden experience

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This is the first in a series of personal reports on selected hotels by ITCM staff

The 5-star Royal Garden Hotel is very central in a swish part of London. In fact it is a neighbour to Kensington Palace and a bevy of beautiful embassy buildings in what is called Millionaires Row, linking Kensington High Street with Notting Hill Gate.

That makes it all the more surprising that it has car parking space on the premises – or, to be more accurate, under the premises. There are two lower ground floors dedicated to a car park run by an outside company. If you like adventure, it begins when you start to spiral down to park the car. It is a tight squeeze for anything bigger than a micro-mini and, such is the number of spirals, that there are notices along the way encouraging a driver to go on, saying only 30 metres, now just 20 and, wow, only 5 metres to go!

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The lift then took us from what seemed like a mystery tour to the sheer elegance of the hotel lobby and the most courteous and friendly of front desk staff. We were shown up to the seventh floor and immediately we entered our room we knew what was special about The Royal Garden. Large windows revealed a view over the grass, flowers and trees of Kensington Gardens and Hyde Park that was only ended by the distant mist. From that corner of Kensington Church Street we could pick out the London Eye and the already towering Shard of Glass, to be completed in 2012, on the other side of London Bridge in the south east. That view is a constant fascination and guests feast on it, a pleasure made all the more comfortable by the sitting area in each room.

The walk-in shower with a monsoon shower head and a hand-held pencil shower had only two controls that were baffling at first sight but unbelievably simple to operate once the puzzle was solved. As shower controls are so very different from hotel to hotel, should management display a key to simplify the process of getting the hang of them?

There are ten meeting rooms, each able to add a touch of style to an event. The Palace Suite, able to seat up to 550, has recently benefited from a substantial investment. Its lighting, for example, can totally change the whole ambiance, from business-like clarity to a mix of pastel shades for a glamorous gala dinner.

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Bertie’s Bar, Jon Nixson, the Conference & Banqueting Manager, pointed out, also offers views over the parks and during the day can be combined with the function rooms for very convenient meetings and refreshments.

The hotel is known by London gourmets as the place where Chinese food is served at its best. It is advisable to book a table at the Min Jiang Restaurant, on the tenth floor, as early as possible. Breakfast was a culinary experience served on the ground floor alongside a quiet lane where we were able to see London life as if in a village, with cyclists freewheeling along and mums and nannies pushing tots in trolleys.

We were baffled by the mystery of the delayed brown toast. Why did it take three requests only to receive our toast after we had finished breakfast?

But when a small point is emphasised for adverse criticism, it proves how good the overall experience was!

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