We had our first taste of a Red Carnation Hotel during our most recent visit to London.

In such a grand city, competition is particularly strong at the top end of the market.

And that’s exactly where Red Carnation Hotels sit!

lodge-2438655__340.jpgIts collection of 17 family-run luxurious hotels are situated across the United Kingdom, South Africa, Switzerland, Ireland and the United States of America.

Each hotel has become a landmark, with a reputation for exceptional location, high quality service, fine dining and sumptuous surroundings.

There are six Red Carnation Hotels in London – and we booked into one of the best known, The Rubens at the Palace, in Westminster.

This majestic four-star hotel is located in Buckingham Palace Road, almost opposite (you guessed it) The Buckingham Palace.

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It was a fleeting one-night stay on our return from spending time in a charming village deep in rural Hertfordshire.

We knew the story of Red Carnation Hotels, an iconic brand that emerged from South Africa in the 1970’s and carved a name for itself as a leading provider of boutique, quality hotels world-wide.

So, we were delighted to be able to experience the brand – even if it was briefly – at The Rubens at the Palace.

And here’s our opinion:

Q: Was the booking process simple and problem free?

A: Yes. We used a few comparision websites to find the best price, then booked online directly with the hotel. The process was straight-forward and easy.

Q: Did The Rubens at the Palace communicate after the booking?

A: Yes, the hotel checked by email that everything was okay several weeks before our visit. This was appreciated. The hotel also has an active social media presence.

Q: Does The Rubens at the Palace have street appeal?

A: Certainly. The hotel is a grand building in a stately area. The hotel frontage is impressive, with an understated look of quality. It’s also easy to find, as we were on foot from nearby Victoria station.

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The hotel also features a striking ‘Living Wall’.

Standing at 350 square metres and with a total of 10,000 herbaceous plants, the wall is designed to provide waves of blossoming plants throughout the year; help keep the hotel cooler in Summer and warmer in Winter; and attract wildlife.

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Q: How did check-in go?

A: Briskly and smoothly. Both door staff and those on reception were friendly, helpful and highly professional in their appearance and manner. The process went smoothly indeed.

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Q: How was accessibility, particularly for senior travellers.

A: There were only three small steps from the footpath to the front doors – and the lifts were located close to the check-in counter.

The lifts had adequate space, the corridors were wide enough and our bags were able to be wheeled on the carpet with ease. This was important to us, as a wheel on our Travelon bag had somehow come adrift at Heathrow airport.

Although there were two steps in our room, there was also a hand rail should you need it.

Q: Was the room big enough?

A: There was plenty of space in the room, which featured a king-sized bed and a luxurious bathroom, plenty of wardrobes, and sufficient room alongside the bed for a writing desk – which was put to good use.

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There was also complimentary high speed wifi, tea and coffee-making facilities, plush bathrobes and slippers, indiviidually controlled air conditioning and bottled mineral water.

Q: Was the bed comfortable?

A: Extremely. The room was quiet and we slept soundly.

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Q: Were other facilities adequate?

A: Although we didn’t use them, there was a big flat-screen TV with cable channels and movies on demand, an iron and ironing board, and a laptop safe.

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Q: Did the room have adequate charging points?

A: The Rubens at the Palace room easily catered for our seven electronic devices. There were plenty of charging points, including two on either side of the bed, ideal for using mobile phones as alarm clocks.

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Q: Was the bathroom to the expected standard?

A: There was a large en-suite bathroom with either a bath tub with overhead shower or a walk in shower. The bathroom featured fluffy towels, robes and luxury toiletries.

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Q: Did you get breakfast?

A: Breakfast was included in the room rate. The breakfast room was luxurious and the food to die for.

Q: Were there any problems with the hotel?

A: No. The Rubens at the Palace is a remarkable hotel that recalls the grandeur of a past age while also providing the utmost in luxury, technology and outstanding service

Duration of stay: One night

Location: The Rubens at the Palace is located in Buckingham Palace Road, central London, opposite the Royal Mews.

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