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So, is it really worth it to spend the night in London on the way back from Malta? Why yes. Yes it is. If you stay at the Zetter.

We tried out room 505 this visit, which was a new one for NPS. The porch is fantastic (though London weather remains dreary).

The bathroom is slightly bigger than 503 but we still have to ignore the shower curtain.

Have some Ramen at the incredibly authentic Monohon Ramen.

And cap off the night with a cocktail at the Zetter Townhouse (where they brought me a Liberal 3 minutes after I arrived, unasked. Thanks Guy!).

Quick overnight visit two thumbs up and five showerheads to the Zetter.

It may be a gray day in London, but it’s blue in room 503 at the Zetter hotel.

And that’s a good thing, because blue is the new red. Loyal readers may recall room 503 used to be red. A complete makeover has occurred making the room cozier and even more modern seeming.

But what’s best is that room 503 was waiting for us when we arrived at 10:15 in the morning after a flight across the pond (about more which see this Delta Does Business posting). So nice to be recognized and taken care of properly. Wonder why the Zetter is better? Well, that’s one reason. Thanks Fabian.

Blue 503 skylight highlight

The Zetter room 503 comfy bed

Zetter sitting now featuring carpet and a modern bar

About the only thing that has not changed is the bathroom which remains nice but small and does feature a tub/shower combo thingy. Tell no one.

The shower is nothing to write home (or blog) about, but it sure feels good after a long flight

The best feature of room 503 is the bank of windows overlooking London. You can see both the gerkin and the shard from bed.

Looking out

Looking in

503 features a fantastic balcony

So all is well at the Zetter. Now we must now manage to stay up all day somehow. Sleep is for the weak.

Stay awake by walking around London in a daze

Lunch at St John is an excellent option.

Real bread at St John

The Tate

As always the Tate is a great place to while away some time. This trip, NPS discovered an entirely new wing?!

Tate Modern

First Iris in London

A sushi dinner at Sosharu was passable. Sosharu is trying to make sushi appealing too close to a train station. Skip it.

Fortunately, a cocktail or two at the Zetter Townhouse was in order. Funny how every time NPS shows up here we have to teach them to make a Liberal all over again. At least they still have the Amer Picon on hand. Back bar fernet with Guy was something that happened.

Amer Picon in the Zetter Townhouse

Also of note during our Zetter time in London:

Dinner at Texture (not as impressive as it should have been).

Brunch at Chiltern Firehouse

A fire at the Chiltern Firehouse in May

A visit to the Artesian bar at the Langham (after tea was ditched in favor of cocktails).

Artesian

Cocktail whose name escapes us

The British Museum

Cocktails at the Aemrican Bar in the Savoy.

The American Bar (wingspan)

A Spinning Jenny is presented on its own little pedestal. Spinning Jenny
45 ml bombay sapphire
15 ml cocchi americano
10 ml pear eau de vie (williams)
15 ml Yerba Mate
15 ml grenadine
soda
Stir. Fizz. Collins rocks. Pedestal.

A new blue five showerheads for the Zetter.

NPS is briefly in London again, staying at the Zetter Townhouse. As it always goes on international travel days from the States, we showed up way early for check in. Way way early.

Never fear! Though the Zetter Townhouse was filled to the gills, the kind general manager Fabian Sanchis at the Zetter found us a room to crash in. So incredibly cool. Thanks Fabian.

It really is nice to be recognized when you arrive at a hotel.

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Room 102 is a tiny little high style room with two important features: a bed and a shower. After a long, fitful pod ride on Virgin Atlantic, the bed was most welcome. Yes, a nap was had. We must be getting old.

So how does Virgin Atlantic Upper Class stack up against United BusinessFirst? Though it pains us to say this, things are pretty much about the same with an edge to United. Food? Airplane bad. Typical blitzkrieged steak. Well, maybe it started as steak?! Cheese? Good (the same). Wine? Decent (the same). Pod? Nowhere near as comfortable on Virgin Atlantic. The pod design does make for a flatter bed that is a bit flatter and more padded though not as wide, but in order to transform to bed mode, you have to get out of the seat and recombobulate everything. And seat mode lacks a left armrest, has an uncomfortable tilt mode, and is pretty cramped. In the age of sophisticated transformer toy design, there is really no reason for that.

Breakfast is better on Virgin Atlantic for sure, and the crew is much friendlier and seems more professional. So all in all it’s a surprise major toss up between United and Virgin Atlantic.

International travel beats domestic hands down for sure, but rumors that the Virgin Atlantic experience is something astounding turn out to have been greatly exaggerated. Mostly that’s because the United international experience in business class is actually (still) very reasonable.

Pile on the fact that Virgin Atlantic and Virgin America don’t really have a seamlessly integrated frequent flyer system, and you have a problem if you travel internationally very often. That is, you can’t use your status or points on Virgin America to upgrade on Virgin Atlantic (though you can book an award trip in Upper Class). That sucks.

Live and learn.

Anyhoo, back to room 102 and awesomeness at the Zetter.

102 is temporarily bright and sunny

102 is temporarily bright and sunny

102 bed with stylish pink lighting or is that fuschia?

102 bed with stylish pink lighting or is that fuschia?

Excellent shower featuring hot water and a drench shower head

Excellent shower featuring hot water and a drench shower head

So now we’re rested, showered, and up, and the sun is temporarily out, and life seems almost close to normal. Just in time for a (admittedly very early) business dinner at the Chiltern Firehouse.

Five showerheads and a big thank you to the Zetter and to Fabian.

The Zetter Townhouse London

September 29, 2014

View from Zetter Townhouse room 11

View from Zetter Townhouse room 11

Yes, its a gray and rainy day in London. Nothing at all surprising about that. But at the Zetter all is sunny and bright (in a virtual way). I’ve been a guest at this hotel multiple times and have quaffed many a cocktail at the Zetter Townhouse next door. This trip I am staying in the Townhouse itself, up on the third floor in room 11.

Rooms in the Townhouse have the same quirky design as the downstairs lounge. Antiques, old art, stuffed cats, fancy columns all thrown together willy nilly to nice effect.

Room 11's quirky collection of flotsam.

Room 11’s quirky collection of flotsam.

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A huge gilded tub prevails

A huge gilded tub prevails

Though the bedroom includes a huge gilded tub, there is a glass shower cube tucked away in the black and white tiled bathroom.

Glass shower cube beats the mother ship

Glass shower cube beats the mother ship

Best of all, upon my very early arrival from the other side of the pond, room 11 was ready to be immediately occupied. Short nap. Hot shower. We’re off to a good start.

Workshop coffee just across the street serves breakfast at all hours. And they make an espresso that even jOHN would approve of.

There’s nothing quite like a visit to the Tate Modern in an arrival fugue state to make life seem any more surreal than normal.

Telephone call for a Mr Dali

Telephone call for a Mr Dali

Kandinski and the very beginning of abstraction

Kandinski and the very beginning of abstraction

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An early business dinner at Tramshed rounds out the first evening. Cow in formaldehyde with a chicken on its back.

Damian Hirst was here

Damian Hirst was here

And not to outdo the lesbian petting in the gents, there’s this.

Right.

Right.

To recover, a Liberal is in order, perfectly made at the classy Zetter Townhouse bar.

The Liberal

The Liberal

Night two included dinner at the modern pantry (right next door to the Zetter Townhouse). Interesting and very eclectic food that is hit or miss. Make sure not to skip the black sesame for dessert.

A nightcap at the Townhouse was going well until some jackass showed up at the bar and insisted on picking a fight?! Easy enough to walk away, but not the sort of thing you expect at an upscale establishment. I did not wait for the situation to be resolved, but simply headed upstairs. (Note: Management seems to have ignored this situation completely. Nobody said a thing the next morning. Hmm.)

But before that, we experimented with a couple of El Presidente inspired cocktails by Bobbie. Experiment 1:
40 cl myers rum
10 cl byrhh
10 cl fino dry sherry
5 cl grenadine
2.5 cl fernet
stir. serve up in a champagne glass.

Experiment 2:
40 cl myers rum
10 cl byrhh
5 cl fino dry sherry
5 cl grenadine
2.5 cl fernet
stir. serve up in champagne glass.

The only issue with this drink was inferior rum. A cuban anejo barrel proof would be ideal. Or maybe even mount gay eclipse. Will work this one at home.

On a final note, a reservations mix-up made by my (usually incredibly excellent) travel agent when the trip was refactored to add Helsinki resulted in an extra night’s charge from the Zetter. [At first we said: I find it surprising that management did not opt to eat the charge. Bad on you Zetter for policy fascism. We will remember. But then management read the entry and reconsidered their position. Glad they did the right thing in the end. Thanks Zetter. See you again soon.]

As self-proclaimed creatures of habit, those of us here at noplasticshowers have spent some time at the Zetter Hotel in London (see previous entries). Arriving early this morning was not a problem. Room 503 as ready, and a hot shower was in order.

One pleasant surprise, the Zetter has seriously upgraded its Internet system. World class upload speeds are rare. This is a good thing indeed.

Pleasant surprise number two. I was recognized by multiple staff members today, including the manager on duty Fabian Sanchis. That is very nice.

Pleasant surprise number three. It was sunny. That didn’t last long!

The balcony off 503 on a sunny morning.

The balcony off 503 on a sunny morning.

The balcony off 503 on a sunny morning.

The balcony off 503 on a sunny morning.

Sunny desk niche.

Sunny desk niche.

Sunny bedroom with lots of windows.

Sunny bedroom with lots of windows.

The shower situation is still non-optimal, but pretty good. The showerhead is worth noting.

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A quick trip to nearby Workshop Coffee for breakfast was in order. Tonight its back to the Modern Pantry right next door for a business dinner. And then if some extra energy arrives from outer space, a visit to the Zetter Townhouse for a nightcap.

It’s a five showerheads day.

Travel Perfection

March 10, 2014

Sometimes a plan just comes together perfectly. This trip has been that way so far.

First, a fantastic fun-filled weekend capped by a walk along the Shenandoah River with dear friends. Then a prime level 2 parking spot at Dulles. A leisurely stroll through TSApre with no line at all; time for a sandwich and a glass of wine. A gate right next door to Vino Volo.

Smooth boarding on a new 777. A business class pod. Actual sleep on the plane (having a fun filled weekend is key to that). A friendly flight attendant. A walk through customs with no line. Suitcase swinging around just as I arrived at baggage claim.

A direct walk to the Heathrow Express which arrived in 30 seconds. A clear shot cab ride from Paddington to the Zetter.

Room 503 ready to go. A hot shower. Much improved Net.

It’s all going right.

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I was just here at the Zetter in November and was completely psyched to find a hotel that did not suck in London. The Zetter and the Zetter Townhouse way do not suck.

Somewhat miraculously, United did the right thing by me on this trip to Europe with in advance upgrades on both ends. (Isn’t it ironic that merely acceptable behavior by United is so rare that it deserved kudos?!) So maybe I was in a great mood even on 3 hours of “plane sleep.” No matter what it was, though, the Zetter staff made me feel immediately welcome on my arrival.

The Zetter as seen from Workshop Coffee.

The Zetter as seen from Workshop Coffee.

The front desk staff kindly allowed me to use room 101 to take a shower in the morning since someone was still in the room I was ultimately destined to stay in. Room 101 is great for a shower.

Room 101 TV.

Room 101 TV.

Room 101 shower (ahhhh).

Room 101 shower (ahhhh).

Room 101 is about the same size as its bed.

Room 101 is about the same size as its bed.

But even after breakfast and a shower, I still had some time to kill before my room was ready, so I headed over to the Zetter Townhouse to get some work done. I was met by head barman and gracious host Kamil Foltan. He and I sat in the back getting work done and chatting every once in a while for a couple of hours. Finally, room 503 was ready. It was worth the wait.

Eyes to the right.

Room 503.  Curved windows overlooking the city.

Room 503. Curved windows overlooking the city.

Eyes to the left.

The work nook.  Sadly, lots of actual work is happening here.

The work nook. Sadly, lots of actual work is happening here.

I must admit that the bathroom on 503 could use an update. The shower is pretty good, but it does have a shower curtain. You all know how we feel about that around here!

Smallish bathroom through the door.

Smallish bathroom through the door.

We will pretend this curtain is glass.

We will pretend this curtain is glass.

I guess over on this side of the pond they have not yet started to install insanely large tubs that I never have time to use next to a glass shower cube. Alas.

The view and the gorgeous balcony more than makes up for the bathroom.

View from 503 balcony.

View from 503 balcony.

The new London pyramid and a cathedral share the skyline with a smoking chimney on an ugly building.  Classic London.

The new London pyramid and a cathedral share the skyline. Classic London.

Too bad about the weather though. Rainy and gray. Oh well, that was to be expected. All in all a five showerheads rating for the Zetter again. Great space, great staff, excellent all around.

London from the Tate Modern restaurant.  Rain rain rain.

London from the Tate Modern restaurant. Rain rain rain.

Coffee Workshop wallpaper.  ARRRR!

Coffee Workshop wallpaper. ARRRR!

In other London news, the Clerkenwell neighborhood remains interesting. The best coffee I have ever had in London can be found at Workshop Coffee just down the street from the Zetter. Mixology at the Zetter Townhouse is still in full swing (I must admit that I go for more boozy and bitter than they seem to have taste for on their menu, but you can get a Liberal!!). The Tate Modern is one of my favorite all time museums (loved the Sphinx by Fini).

Petit Sphinx Ermite by Leonor Fini (Tate Modern)

Petit Sphinx Ermite by Leonor Fini (Tate Modern)

Inside the Zetter Townhouse.  View from the couch (which was almost denied us by the little girl minding the door).

Inside the Zetter Townhouse. View from the couch (which was almost denied us by the little girl minding the door).

Superb dinner at Moro.

Kamil introduced me to a new rum at the Zetter Townhouse. Almost as good as Havana Club Cuban cask strength Anejo. Wow. And get this, it’s from Venezuela.

Santa Teresa 1796 rum from Venezuela.

Santa Teresa 1796 rum from Venezuela.

A dinner right next door at The Modern Pantry included one of the best desserts I have ever been served in an upscale restaurant. We had some trouble with the Zetter front desk getting dinner set up, but persistence paid off.

Another restaurant worth mentioning is The Tramshed where you can find great steak, a cow in formaldehyde (Damien Hirst), and lesbian petting in the gents.

This is not the cow you're looking for.

This is not the cow you’re looking for.

After dinner we went for a romp through Happiness Forgets (which was obviously teleported in from NY) and the Artesian at the Langham which is just a bit too posh for its own good, for example proudly proclaiming itself the “best bar in the world.” Happiness Forgets is excellent indeed. Artesian? Meh. Though the rum selection really is the best I have ever seen.

We handle posh by ordering this:

A posh drink with a purple skull phone from Artesian.

A posh drink with a purple skull phone from Artesian.