Saturday, 31 December 2011
Stuck in traffic jams on the roads that encircled it, I often pondered how such an ugly concrete carbuncle could ever have been allowed to be built on the roundabout at the southern end of Westminster Bridge. Then, a couple of years ago, this Soviet-style monstrosity was razed overnight... only to replaced by something equally ghastly that resembles one of those pop-up pissoirs Westminster Council installed in a vain attempt to prevent drunks from peeing in Pret's doorways, or having a slash outside Starbucks - the chain whose warm brown liquid tastes like pish to me. Caught short, I pop into said pissoir-like erection (aka the Park Plaza Westminster Bridge London) Well, why else would I be visiting a mid-market hotel chain? Themed shiny-sleek oriental-intercontinentale, it could be a new airport terminal in Seoul or Guangzhou. Guests are encouraged to marvel at the view of Big Ben - note to tourists: the view as you exit Westminster Underground station is the photo op you want. But it's the hotel's Tokyopolitan-style bar, Primo, that will impress blasé Londoners. Who knew this even existed? Split into two distinct lounges, the larger - all low-lit, low-slung, blocky black and white 60’s moderne - is where to score wine from £19, house champagne (£47), Eurasian bites (frittata, meatballs, chicken satay) and patisseries. In the dramatic black and red live music lounge, a small stage host jazz, swing and samba musicians and Sinatra wannabes most nights. Asian-slanted cocktails match the space for drama. Try Cavallo or Nashi Eyes (rum, nashi pear, peach liqeur, guava juice and oolong tea). Primo would not be primo on my list of hotel bars in which to get bladdered, but for weak bladders in an emergency, here's a fine place to spend a penny or two.
Park Plaza Westminster Bridge London, 200 Westminster Bridge Road SE1 7620 7282