Overall a solid London hotel, but needs to do more to justify an 'upper-middle' tier brand positioning. Food lacked consistency and while some service was exceptional, at other times it was confused and unhelpful. The room was not particularly large, as one often finds in London but comfortable, clean and modern. Our ratings are based on a business traveller as that's our main audience. Some leisure travellers may value the amenities (spa, formal dining etc) more.
The reviewer paid £240/night, the hotel was not aware we were staying, and we were not paid to write this review.
First Impressions: Arrival and Check In At Park Plaza Waterloo
I was travelling in for a business trip and selected the hotel due to location and paid £240/night for a premium king room.
Arriving fairly late (after 10.30pm) was a little strange. The hotel had disabled the rotating doors and had locked the side door leaving guests who had not checked in yet to ring a buzzer and wait to be let in.
Fortunately they were fairly quick to open the door, but really if security is that big of an issue in the area that it must all be locked up in the evening, a member of staff should be positioned outside the door rather than inside.
As you can see the hotel has been designed in a 'modern' style in that tacking weird metal patterns and uneven features on buildings is pretty popular in the UK in the last ten years so I wasn't surprised to see that it opened in 2017.
The slightly strange design choices continued indoors with a pillar obscuring part of the check in desk so it wasn't easy to figure out where best to queue. Luckily the staff was pretty quick to jump on new stations and get people checked in as we arrived so the wait was short.
Park Plaza is part of the Radisson group of hotels and I hold Gold status via the Business AMEX Platinum card. I received no mention of status during check in, no upgrade, no free water, no welcome gift or any other elite recognition. On a business trip I didn't really care but that's worth bearing in mind if you value elite recognition and benefits with the programme.
Rooms At Park Plaza Waterloo
As a modern hotel, Park Plaza Waterloo is kitted out with a fully digital control panel for everything from lighting to the air conditioning and blinds. These were conveniently located by the entrance to the room and bedside. However there was an issue with the system where it kept resetting the air conditioning to 22C every time I left the room which is too hot for me. While the air conditioning was powerful and cool once it was up and running there was a noticeable lag before it kicked in fully.
The desk was spacious enough to get plenty of work done between events and meetings in the area, but the chair was brutally uncomfortable and I ended up sitting on a pillow for most of the trip.
The bed was comfortable and I slept well both nights at the hotel.
The bathroom was a little small but manageable for a London hotel with a rain shower and standard shower both fitted. Unsurprisingly given the space available in the room, no bathtub was provided. The water pressure and temperature were fine and perfectly serviceable.
Dining And Service At Park Plaza Waterloo
On a business trip the most common place to grab a bite to eat is often at the bar. As this trip included some informal meetings we mostly dined at the hotel in the bar area. As a result I wasn't able to take any snaps of the food but as one of my colleagues pointed out "it looked better than it tasted".
That was true for all the dishes we tried during the stay, although the smoked salmon brunch with avocado, poached egg and sourdough toast was solid and while I didn't try it the flatbread looked decent for a bar so there are definitely some good options as well as mediocre.
It was frustrating that casual dining at the bar isn't available late into the evening, though not as frustrating as being told room service also wasn't available. It turns out it was and after finishing up my first meeting, returning to my room, finding that out, and ordering it was 2am before I got something to eat. Even that took a ten minute debate with the front desk about whether they could bring me a cheese sandwich or not (the menu is significantly limited late at night which is not uncommon, though the menu was entirely unclear about what you could and couldn't have).
There are some real stars working behind the bar though, including one chap who took the time to make us some unique cocktails he'd designed for the bar.
Based on my stay - the weird late night arrival 'feel' of the hotel, and the inability to tell me room service was available still - I'd have rated service a lot lower, but I opted to go for four stars as our main score based on what I felt was more of a typical experience on day two.
For leisure travellers, or business travellers with more time on their hands than I had there is a steam room, sauna and spa facility at the hotel as well as a more formal dining setting. I will comment on those in more detail if I return to the hotel for a longer stay, but typically don't use those facilities when travelling for work so we won't focus on those much here at JetSetKings.
Park Plaza Waterloo - London - England
With a few improvements this could be a fantastic London hotel, however it still is a little rough around the edges and inconsistent in some areas which you would have hoped would be ironed out after being open two years. Most of the staff were friendly and professional and with it being in an ideal location and reasonable value for money we were happy to have stayed and would consider it again for future conferences and events in the area.