Sunday, 1 May 2016

Crowne Plaza London - The City Hotel @ London Blackfriars

I like being asked to go to things and experiencing a different atmosphere after work, and so I accepted an invitation to go to the Crowne Plaza London - The City which is opposite London Blackfriars station, a four star (deluxe) hotel. I was allowed a plus one, so I took along Miss Pinky (since she lives the closest, and I was pretty sure she wanted a night out after being a parent all day long). ^_^

Was at Miss Pinky's a little early than expected and she was ready to go! Wow. I've never seen her dressed and ready to go out before I could say 1, 2, 3... we actually walked down towards Waterloo instead of taking a bus, through The Cut and into Blackfriars Bridge (which unfortunately has a lot of roadworks at the moment due to nearby building works) and we arrived early than I had expected.

Right before our mini tour ("showcase" as they called it) of the hotel we were told to meet our hostess for the evening in the bar area called Voltaire Cocktails & Champagne Bar. The bar itself is named after the French writer/philosopher/historian as he was exiled to London for six years, this was his escape and one for the city folk. Miss Pinky and I started talking to the people around (well one person), getting to know the hotel, and talking about what I actually blog about. I blog about everything!

Miss Pinky asked a lot of the questions (since she knows more about properties and the housing market). I don't think I could've asked the things she had asked - more about the hotel business, and what they offer internationally... ¬_¬"" I should've taken notes. From memory, the Crowne Plaza is part of IHG Hotels and they offer a wide range of hotels and holiday inns, ten types of hotels, and they offer a IHG Rewards Club membership which enables you to stay at those various hotels with a discount... (see end of post for website).
Voltaire Bar
Our hostess Tuhina, introduced herself to us who is the Marketing and Partnerships Manager at the hotel. She is a very bubbly person and has worked in the Hong Kong industry (I believe her because she went "aiya" at one point during the showcase. ^_^). 

We were introduced to the afternoon tea cakes and sandwiches first. I wanted to eat them, but this was just a display. Looks cool and is available Monday to Saturday. I think Miss Pinky will be coming this way for an occasion with either friends or family, they do a cocktails or champagne addition too.

Our hostess left us for a bit, and we sort of lingered to the food. I was already into my fourth day of my low carb diet but welcomed any sort of food that evening. They served up some tuna chunks, duck spring rolls and mini shepherd's pie. Quality of the food was up to my standards - a delicious thumbs up. (^_^) These food items can be arranged for events.



Finally our tour (showcase) started...

We were shown the champagne library first, I didn't go up close to see it, but it's there in the Voltaire Bar and good for a group booking.

Did you know that the Crowne Plaza was once a palace a.k.a Bridewell Palace where King Henry VIII once lived (as well as Hampton Court Palace), so I think this Grade II listed building is just part of what was once a palace. 

Apart from being a palace, after King Henry VIII's reign it became a prison, a hospital and once a bank. So where am I getting at? Well, the Voltaire Bar is the actual prison part. It's quite visible when you see the "cells" which are currently formed into private mini rooms or vaults as they call it, and you can sit in them for FREE with no time restrictions.Very different to other bars I've seen around London.




There's actually another entrance to the bar... Miss Pinky and I went through the 19 New Bridge Street main road entrance which is via the two restaurants. The front entrance is actually on the opposite side of the building and away from the main road, so you actually wouldn't notice that this is a hotel if you hadn't seen the sign on the side. Very bizarre for a Grade II building. I wouldn't have even noticed this entrance if I wasn't told about it.


Here I'm just taking a random picture as I usually do...

Next stop was the Italian restaurant and wine bar, Diciannove (meaning: Nineteen - because of the address of the location, Number 19). From the outside, you wouldn't believe this restaurant exists in Blackfriars, but it actually does. As you go in, there is a bright element of yellow light and then at the end is a live jazz singer. My sort of dining after a stressful day...

The food itself is of real good quality Italian made products. The chefs actually produce and bake their bread and pasta daily, which I think is amazing. Not all hotels make their own bread, it sounds amazing! 

This whole table of food was just a display so we couldn't test the wine. :( Miss Pinky and the other guests were impressed though. Just looking at my own pictures is making my mouth water for the cheese and meat slices.




Here is Chef Alessandro talking through the products they cook and produce. Quality stuff.

We got to try out the sample foods too...

You probably think the food is really expensive, but truthfully it'll probably be the average amount you would spend at a sushi bar or a Korean restaurant. So not too expensive from looking at the menu prices. They do an Pronto lunch (12pm-2pm) and dinner (6pm-7pm) 2-course set with espresso for £19.50 and two for one on carafes of wine from 5pm-6:30pm.

The lamb was not overcooked, the pasta was al-dente (which is how I like it) and the scallop was cooked to perfection. I think I want more from just writing this!!




We were about to go into the Chinese restaurant, but were detoured to the guest rooms, so we squeezed into the lift and I can't remember which floor we went to.

The first room we were shown was a normal room. According to the website, for one night in a standard room costs £134.83. Expensive for me! But there are a few benefits, for example the windows are double glazed, meaning you can't hear any noise from the outside. We seriously couldn't hear anything from where we were. 

What most business people had wanted was to switch off electronically so they didn't place plugs by the beds, so anyone needing a few winks more than they usually have can have a peaceful night in one of these rooms. They are also supplied with a Sleep Advantage aromatherapy kit, a sleeping solution made of natural oils (we got a free sample, which I have not tried yet).


Could not hear anything from below!

Need to have a go at this... but I already sleep well at nights
The next room we viewed was a British designer Paul Smith inspired suite. You can tell it is as there's all colourful stripes and photography all around. My type of room. Colourful and bright! This room is separated into two parts, so there's a living room area and the bedroom at the back... there's also a coffee machine on the side!




I didn't realise you could have a globe inside a hotel room!



I wouldn't mind staying in one of these rooms for a few nights. ^_^""

Back down we went and into the Chinese Cricket Club Restaurant. The restaurant is named after the actual Chinese Cricket Club. It's not actually a club but a Sichuan style food restaurant. So lots of spices, noodles and rice. 

We didn't get a presentation like the Italian side but the display was good enough. Our hostess explained that the dim sum is handmade daily by a lady chef who also does dim sum workshops monthly at the restaurant.

All of the teas and next food pics are display pictures... too bad! I could've downed some of the food there and then, >_<"







At this point we had more food!

This was tasty, not over-spiced nor too salty...not overly greasey too. Not like a Chinese takeaway.

The dim sum was good, it's too bad I only ate one piece. Miss Pinky couldn't enjoy any of these as she's allergic to prawns, so all she could do was look. Wonder if there are any non-prawn dim sum available...? Yes there is according to the menu online! The dim sum is overly expensive compared to China Town so I probably recommend the platter. Are these served all day long? Yes!

The fried noodles were good, had enough spice in it. Because it sat there for a little while it lost a little of it's crunch texture. But nevertheless it tasted good.

Haven't had one of these flower teas for a while but always enjoy looking at these.




The Chinese Cricket Club Restaurant is a bit expensive for me (it's somewhere where my friend Miss Posh would go to) as I know I could enjoy food like this for a little cheaper. Probably a place suitable for the wealthy Chinese business people! Luckily they also have an Express menu at lunch (12pm-2pm) and dinner (6pm-7pm) 2-course set with rice and a drink for £17.50.

Next stop was the Conference Floor!

The basement is "The Place To Meet"!

More food!!

Well, at this point our hostess had to attend to a new arrival group and so our second hostess arrived and showed us the meeting rooms.

The Bridewell Suite can be hired for up to 160 people. I forgot what the history of this room was used for, for Henry VIII. Anyway, you can hire this room for weddings, Christmas parties, a big conference or whatever you need it for. Miss Pinky asked about whether the outer space could also be used for guests if a wedding was held there, and yes was the answer and it doesn't cost more...


The three Boardrooms can be hired for meetings, brainstorming sessions, debriefings, you name it, it's catered for the people that need it! It can take up to 10 people. So if you need somewhere to do a meeting and have no space in your own offices, then the Boardrooms would be ideal.


We were shown the sample foods for those using the meeting and conference rooms but the sweets and healthy food stations was an exception for all of us. I tried to avoid this table!! If only we could have had some of the food... :(










Well, we ended back at the Voltaire Cocktails & Champagne Bar, got our free sleeping sample and that was the end of our showcase...

Miss Pinky wanted cocktails after our long tour, we had just missed the 5-8pm buy two cocktails for £8.50, so had to pay for the full price of these two cocktails... they tasted good though. Worth going and having after work. I definitely would if I worked nearby and there's always the monthly cocktail masterclasses for £19! :D

It was time to go, my tummy was calling to eat a bit more because of all the alcohol I had that night.

Goodnight Crowne Plaza London - The City... if you look closely at the ground floor, they have illuminating neon lights glowing from the inside of the hotel restaurants (very Hong Kong style advertising)... 

After the showcase, Miss Pinky said to me that they don't do Groupon offers (as she's always having a look at nearby offers)... They have done amazing Time Out, Travel Zoo, Wowcher and Living Social offers and will be starting with Groupon. Also look out for 50% off food on Taste Card. That's probably what they should aim for. More people would go if there were certain discounts for a small time period. 


To try out the IHG special offers for holidays or business trips look at this website:


To get more information about room rates and their restaurants, then look at this website:

Address: 19 New Bridge St, London EC4V 6DB
Phone: 0871 942 9190

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