From a business perspective it is unmatched for meeting and event facilities with a Grand Ballroom that can seat 1,250 guests
London's Park Lane Hilton still sets the benchmark
For breathtaking views over London’s Hyde Park, comparable with the Essex House in New York’s Central Park, it is hard to beat the famous Park Lane Hilton hotel, until recently the tallest hotel in the United Kingdom.
For business, its location puts you right in the heart of Mayfair.
The 453-room hotel opened in 1963 and became a flagship of the "swinging 60s" with members of The Beatles living as residents in the period. Today the original glamour has faded but the facility was always intended to also be an eminently practical business hotel, which it remains.
Indeed, it is probably unmatched for meeting and event facilities with a Grand Ballroom that can seat 1,250 guests; and a further two ballrooms seating 90 and 200 guests.
For press events and meetings there are a total of 11 rooms, all with natural light to accommodate between four and fifty participants, plus the 150-person Crystal Palace Suite. Room costs range from £500 (Dh2,424) for the smallest to £30,000 for the Grand Ballroom.
The best of the 56 suites are found on the 27th floor. Executive rooms also have access to club facilities with all-day beverages, continental breakfast and constantly changing snacks. This club was much improved on from my last visit more than five years ago.
We stayed in the Balmoral Suite with views over Hyde Park as not seen unless you are a pigeon. This suite is furnished in traditional style with the gold light switches and taps that used to be popular in luxury hotels in this era.
Tea and coffee facilities and a handy Corby trouser press for effortless creases are in addition to free 2.7 mbps WiFi. This suite comes in at £1,700 per night, while rooms start from £284 with the best rates only available from Hilton’s very slow website.
The large desk offers a choice of British or American plug-points but not continental. If you need business centre facilities then a key-accessed room with four workstations, Microsoft and Macs and laser printer, is available on the fourth floor.
However, the place to really splash out and entertain your top clients is the Michelin-starred Galvin at Windows restaurant on the 28th floor. It has superb 360-degree views of London through its huge panoramic windows, particularly at sunset, fine traditional French cooking and high service standards to match.
Room service has 21 dishes on its Middle East section alone with an Arabian Mixed Grill for £39; a coke is £5 and half a litre of water £6. Our suite’s dining table would be ideal for such private dining.
Cleaning and pressing a shirt costs £18 with a 24 hour minimum turnaround time.
About the only facility this hotel does not have is a swimming pool. There is a windowless 24/7 gym with four treadmills, two steppers and two bicycle machines, a three-treatment room spa offering massages from £80 and even a barber shop, and a shoe shine stand in the lobby.
The Hilton staff are helpful and efficient. A doorman kindly noticed that I’d left my umbrella in a black cab and prevented me losing another one. I noticed another guest being reunited with his hat.
But, being a Hilton, American service standards predominate and nobody rushes to take you bags away these days. I’ve got used to that and prefer to trundle my own suitcase to the room rather than wait for its arrival.
London is always full of Middle East visitors during the summer so I felt very much at home. The Hilton may not be the flashiest hotel in London these days but it has a certain charm and those views from the window are easily its unique selling point.