london, United Kingdom
On Thursday night last week I had the pleasure of spending the evening in Glasgow in preparation for meetings the next day. I normally stay at the City Inn, but on this occasion due to 5 exhibitions on at the SECC that hotel was booked. The company that book all our company travel informed me that my choices were slim. Either a £60 a night bed and breakfast or a £155 a night hotel room. Normally Id have gone for the cheaper option, particularly as the B&B in question looked really nice, but as I knew I wouldnt land until quite late I didnt want to be wandering around the city on my own at night looking for somewhere to eat. Room service had to be an option. Since my company were paying any way I thought why not. So that is how I ended up at the Hilton hotel on William Street. To get to the hotel from Glasgow airport is a £17 cab ride and takes about 25 minutes.
On arriving at the hotel my first thoughts were grey looking tower block of a hotel facing the motorway and an area of patchy development land. So that didnt bode well. However within minutes of getting out of the taxi and walking into the lobby I started to think the interior definitely had more to offer.
I walked up to the desk which was clear of other customers at the time (7pm) a young woman in a smart uniform looked up my booking and my room was found instantly. I was informed where my room was, on the 8th floor, and given my room key. At the same time I was asked if I wanted a wake up call and told where the complimentary leisure facilities were.
I then informed the lady that I was a bag short and that one of my bags was apparently on route from the airport and would be with me later that night. The lady said that as soon as it arrived I would be informed. It is worth noting that at the check in stage I wasnt offered a newspaper for the morning, and none of the dining facilities were explained to me for that evening, although I was told where to have breakfast the next day.
I made my way across the lobby and found the lifts. The lift was very prompt in arriving, something I noticed a few times during my stay. On the 8th floor I made my way towards my room. The décor was very standard in my opinion, considering the sort of money you are paying for a room per night. There were very dull colored carpets and walls with the odd decoration dotted about the landings. On finding my room I opened the door wondering what I would find inside. The answer was, a rather large room, again with very middle of the road furnishings. This hotel could definitely have done with a visit from Lawrence Bowen-Llewellyn ( for those who dont know this person, he is a flamboyant interior design expert from TV series Changing Rooms, famed for his love of the bright and the garish) To get down to specifics, as I entered the room a bathroom was directly in front of me. This had a toilet, large sink with room for toiletries and bath with shower. To my right was a large wall to ceiling cupboard with mirrored doors. To my left was the main room. As I turned left I saw a mini bar under a counter, a tray with complimentary tea and coffee making facilities and biscuits, a hair dryer area, and then the room opened up into a large space with room for a double bed, sofa and table, and desk and chair. To be fair it was a really good sized space and one where you could have definitely made yourself comfortable for a few days. As I was only there for one night I did the thing wed all do next. I decided to check out what was in the mini bar, suss out the room service menu and try out the shower.
I tried the door of the mini bar. It seemed shut firm. I tried again. Nothing. So I then used the telephone next to the bed and called reception. I informed them that my mini bar was not working. The receptionist tried to unlock it remotely using a computer command from the reception desk. After a few more attempts we both realized it wasnt going to happen. The receptionist told me theyd have an engineer sent up.
In the mean time I decided to take a look at the room service menu. This was a large long document with a purple outside. Which surprised me as I thought the Hilton corporate colours were blue. On opening the document I saw that they would have delivered me breakfast up to 10.30am, afternoon tea up to 5pm and then the rest of the menu after that time. On offer were:
Sandwiches, all of which apparently came served with savory crisps and on a bread of your choice. Options included:
Roast Beef with English Mustard £7.45
Hot peppered steak ciabatta with red onion £12.95
Isle of Mull cheddar and tomato chutney - £7.45
There was a whole section for pizza, with 5 choices of topping, including the usual like Hawaiian, the price started from £10.95.
Listed in a Hilton classics section was Hilton Classic Club Sandwich - £11.95, Hilton Classic Burger £12.95 and Hilton Classic Caesar Salad from £6.95 as a starter and £12.95 as a main.
There was a lighter options section which featured ommlette and pasta, as well as a side orders section.
You could also order from a proper main menu that would have been served in the restaurant. This had delights such as - Scottish oak smoked with red onion and capers - £10.50 for a starter, and Chicken Tikka Masala with mini poppadoms, riata bread with Indian chutney for £17.50 a main.
Dessert included Glazed lemon tart at £7.50.
It informed that there was a £3.50 tray charge for all room service.
A wine list was also included serving global options. Bottles started from £21.50 for an Australian unoaked Chardonny from the Berri Estate, South Eastern Australia to champagnes from £48 for a Piper-Heidsiek. Brut. N.V
Spirits, beers and soft drinks were all also available.
I selected the Hilton Classic Burger, as I do love a bit of slobbing out on a business trip. I dialed the number for room service, got straight through and placed my order. I was told it would take around 25 minutes to prepare and have sent up to me.
There was then a knock at the door, and the mini bar engineer had arrived. Thank god I thought, Im dying for a gin and tonic! He came in and quickly realized what the problem was, yes the mini bar was not switched on a the wall. This meant he had to reset it so the thing could register how many mini bar drinks I decided to snaffle. He was in out and gone within about 5 minutes. Really sweet nice older man too, bless him.
Engineer safely out of the way I decided to fit in a shower before my room service turned up. Now I do have to mark the Hilton down for a shocking lack of white dressing gowns to snuggle up in. There wasnt even one. Again, not something Id expect of a high end chain like that. One thing that regains them points is the provision of television speakers in the bathroom. It meant I could get in the shower and still hear what Dot was having a pop at Jim for in East Enders in the other room.
I did have a little trouble figuring out the shower, and a source of irritation was the plug, which wouldnt be tucked away anywhere and kept tumbling into the bath and starting to cause the water to build up. However the actual shower was very good. Extremely powerful and hot. So I was a happy camper. They also got brownie points for the lovely Crabtree and Evelyn toiletries which smelt delicious and were very good. I hate it when you stay somewhere and they give you cheap shampoo that buggers your hair up. Top marks on that Hilton.
After 10 minutes or so I climbed out of the shower feeling really refreshed and ready for my dinner. I got changed into my tracksuit bottoms and a vest top and decided to check out the mini bar. I had been worried that it would all be luke warm and unpleasant due to the unplugging incident, but no. All ice cold and lovely. There was a good selection of spirits including: rum, whisky, gin, vodka, single malt and cognac. Plus there were becksb, heniken and magners to choose from on the beer/cider front. Several mixers were on offer, as was a small selection of half bottles of wine. Snacks included: chocolate raisins, salted and mixed nuts, cereal bars and tobelerone.
I chose my much coveted gin and tonic, which cost £5 for the 50cl Gordons Gin, and £2.35 for the tonic. Quite expensive really.
I decided to settle in on the sofa, watch eastenders, enjoy my drink and wait for the room service to arrive. The sofa was really comfortable and I would definitely say anyone could make themselves at home in that room.
As I watched TV I also flicked through the About your room documents that the Hilton had supplied. These informed me that the hotel had two proper dining rooms, Camerons and Minskys. Camerons was styled after a traditional highland hunting lodge featuring the finest of Scottish produce. Reservations were necessary to dine. The other restaurant Minskys was described as being one of the most popular, informal and relaxed restaurants in Glasgow. Minskys, it said, specializes in sumptuous buffets specializing in Scottish and Continental cuisine.
Also on site were a bar called Raffles, created in Scottish colonial style to represent the famous bar in Singapore. Here you could have afternoon tea, hot and cold snacks and drinks all day long. They also specialized in malt whisky.
Finally, I read how the hotel had a grade A spa facility, called The Spa this could be found on level 1 of the hotel and offered Jessica Manicure, pedicure along with a long list of relaxing treatments. The hotel also has a swimming pool, which I was sad not to have known about as Id definitely have gone for a dip.
The hotel also has a hairdressers apparently.
In terms of business facilities the hotel has a business centre with internet access, faxing, photocopying and a typing service. It has 15 meeting rooms, and an executive lounge. The hotel also offers wireless broadband access on levels 2 and 3.
I then heard a knock at the door and horary, my dinner had arrived. I let the waiter in and he brought the tray, covered with silver cloche, in and set it down onto the table. As soon as hed left I opened it and clapped my eyes on the beautiful burger beneath. I have to be honest, the bun wasnt really anything exciting, just a regular sesame seed bun you might get from the supermarket, but the actual burger looked juicy and delicious and was certainly on the generous side. Next to that was a small white square dish stacked up with chunky thick cut chips that just looked amazing. A mini pot of Heinz tomato ketchup was next to that, and some salad leaves as a garnish.
Im not given to exaggeration, but that burger was delicious. I dont know what it was about the meat but it was juicy and absolutely gorgeous. I would give it 10 out of 10. The chips were equally good. So I would say you can summise from that, if that was what the room service was like, the chef must be really good.
Post dinner I chilled out with another drink, a beer this time, and then just watched a film until around 11pm. I was quite concerned about my bag by this stage, but decided that I would go to bed and worry about it from there. The bed was very large and very comfortable and I soon felt sleepy and relaxed. I turned out the light and drifted off.
At 7.30am my wake up call came through, and I anxiously dialed reception. To begin with I was told they didnt know anything about the bag, then the night porter informed them that it had arrived at 2.15am and so they deiced not to disturb me at that time. Which I think is fair enough.
I hopped into the shower and got dressed again. As Friday is dress down day in my office I wore jeans and a smart top. I did feel a little out of place as I went down in the lift for breakfast as the majority of guests were men in suits. However the breakfast more than made up for any insecurity I might have been feeling.
The restaurant where they serve breakfast is Minksys. It is a fantastic place styled to look like a New York diner. There are greeters who take you to your table and then take an order for tea or coffee. They automatically bring you juice as well (thats the freshly squeezed type, and not the code name for any soft drink as my Scottish colleagues often use it!) After delivering you your coffee, you are left to have free run at the buffet, and I always think that the Hiltons dont let you down at breakfast time. This one was no different. The choice spanned, fruit, meat and cheese, cereals, many sorts of bread, full Scottish and to my intense delight a massive caldron of porridge along with everything you liked to go on it. I greedily helped myself to a large bowl and topped it with syrup. Yum! I ate that at a leisurely pace and enjoyed the excellent coffee. That consumed I returned to make myself 2 slices of the white crusty loaf that was only one of about 6 choices of bread. I have to have my marmite on toast no matter where I am. Considering myself a total pig at this point I was comforted to see that the American gentlemen next to me was onto his second large full plate of cooked breakfast, so I didnt feel so bad after all. If my tummy would have allowed Id have stayed all day happily at that fabulous buffet, but I dont think my company would have paid me to do that, so sadly I set off to check out.
My bag was located, and I my bill settled quickly. I should add that when I got up that morning an envelope had been slid under the door, allowing an express checkout if Id wanted to leave early. That had contained everything from the mini bar and the room service. So I just needed the breakfast adding at that stage.
The person who handled my check out was very polite and professional, and my card was charged and bill settled within about 5 minutes. I was offered a taxi, which I declined as the office is in walking distance.
And that was my Hilton William Street experience. If my usual hotel is ever booked again I fully intend to come back here, and try out the fantastic looking restaurant menus.