This year we will spend Christmas in Northern Ireland with family and, with an inevitable stopover in London, I thought I’d make the most of the opportunity. With 50,000 points in my Platinum Elite IHG Rewards, I do just that, and I reward myself with a stay at the InterContinental London Park Lane. After two days of travel from rural Thailand, including an eighteen hour layover in Moscow, I do feel I deserve this reward. So, arriving to Heathrow, we bypass city traffic with an obligatory journey on the London Underground, which takes us pretty much directly to the doorstep of the InterContinental London Park Lane, following the Piccadilly line to Hyde Park Corner. A quick walk finds the front doors of the InterContinental London Park Lane and, after a seamless check-in, I find it hard to describe my feeling of euphoria. It’s a bit like a combination of total comfort, and absolute relief. The bed would be best described as cloudlike and, given my past days of discomfort, with cramped flights, and airport seating, I do find it hard to pull myself away again. But we do have London to explore and this is my first ever winter visit to the city, and I am back on the move again tomorrow.
I am living out my monopoly board dreams here staying on Park Lane, one of the most prestigious ‘Dark Blue’ squares of the Monopoly board. London addresses don’t really come any better, although there is Buckingham Palace, which is found by a five minute stroll through Green Park opposite. From the InterContinental Club Lounge, on the top floors, we look out over Green Park where, directly opposite, is the Wellington Arch which looks beautiful at sunset. But, during the run up to Christmas, the main attraction in this area is next door, as the InterContinental London Park Lane sits on the perimeter of Hyde Park. While I’d normally be happy to just potter around, hand-in-hand with Allan, pretending he’s Hugh Grant, there’s a lot more going on at this time of year. From the nearby gate entrance we already see the annual Hyde Park Winter Wonderland, which towers above the tree line. This annual event is like a Christmas Market, which has spun completely out of control. It brings all the festiveness of continental markets; with Vin Chaud, German Bratwurst, and ice skating, but these attractions are mostly hidden beneath the huge venue of fun park attractions and festive cheer. There are beer tents, big wheels, extreme rides, even a haunted house, which seems oddly out of place for Christmas. We inevitably find ourselves lost in the maze, while searching for the iconic ice sculptures, and ultimately give up to cancel our evening plans for Oxford and Regent Street. We instead scurry back to our cloud bed.