Sometimes we stay at hotels because we are on a holiday. At other times, we need somewhere to sleep for a business trip. Then, very occasionally, there are the stays we make simply to get another night’s stay in to maintain our Hilton Honors Gold status. Our recent stay at the Doubletree by Hilton, Tower of London fell into the latter type of stay.

The Doubletree by Hilton, Tower of London isn’t (usually) the cheapest Hilton property in London. However, it does have the advantage that it is less than 10 minutes’ walk from our flat. We used the flexible booking tool on the Hilton website to find the cheapest weekend.

We found that Friday 31st March was the date offering the lowest rates and we decided to book a newly refurbished Executive Room on a Honors Advanced Purchase Discount rate. Of course, an Executive Room costs more than a standard room. However, the Hilton Honors points earned in a stay are based on the total spend, so paying a bit more for the room earns more points. And, as Brucie used to say, points make prizes. (Each stay brings us closer to that reward stay at the Conrad Bali we’re aiming for).

Checking in at the Doubletree by Hilton, Tower of London

Hilton offers Honors members the chance to check-in on the app. However, you still need to queue up to collect your keys at most Hilton properties. As a result, we tend not to bother. When we arrived, the reception was busy. In fact, every check-in point was open and serving guests and there was also a small queue of guests waiting. Fortunately, the reception staff at the Doubletree by Hilton, Tower of London are usually very efficient and we only had to wait about two minutes.

Checking in was quick and friendly. The “welcome back” speech was sincere, and our receptionist also made sure we knew about the Executive Lounge and Happy Hour. While we waited for the credit card authorisation for the incidentals, we experienced our favourite bit of a Doubletree check-in – the handing out of the Doubletree cookies.

Doubletree cookies are one of the great joys of staying at a Doubletree. These chewy, chocolatey and nutty treats are a delight best enjoyed warm (which is how they are when they are handed to you). They sell the cookies by the tin and I have often been tempted to buy them to enjoy at home.

A room with a view (of the train station)

The Doubletree by Hilton, Tower of London is in a very good location, being very close to the Tower of London and Tower Bridge. It is also just a few minutes’ walk from Tower Hill Underground station, Tower Gateway Docklands Light Rail station, Fenchurch Street train station, Tower Pier for river boat services and a shedload of bus connections. At the same time, it is in a street that is far enough back from the main road that you aren’t bothered by traffic noise.

However, the flipside of the great location is that the hotel is surrounded by other buildings, so none of the rooms has particularly great views. After reaching our room, I looked out of the window to find that we had a spectacular view of the offices in the neighbouring building and a bird’s eye view of the platforms at Fenchurch Street Station.

Refurbishments at the Doubletree by Hilton, Tower of London

The Doubletree by Hilton, Tower of London started life as a Mint Hotel. Then, in 2011 it became a part of the Hilton family and has been run under the Doubletree brand since then. When it became a Doubletree, it was redecorated in the brand’s colour scheme. However, many of the Mint features were left in place. Early in 2017, the hotel started on a refurbishment programme, with all the rooms getting a facelift.

The rooms on the Executive Floors were the first to get the makeover. The colour scheme has changed slightly, with vibrant blue carpets offsetting the creams. At the same time, there are now some large images of London landmarks on the wall behind the bed. The bed itself was a very comfortable super king, with plenty of room to spread out. There was also a comfy chair and table, a small wardrobe and a writing desk and chair.

Before the refurb, the desks in the rooms were home to an iMac. In some ways, this was great if you wanted to work, but on the other hand, they were also your TV, so you only had a small screen.

The iMac has gone and now the rooms boast 52″ flatscreen TVs. In an age when so many people travel with a laptop, I doubt that many guests took advantage of the iMac’s computing power. In my opinion, the 52″ TV is a much better option.

The bathrooms at the Doubletree by Hilton, Tower of London can best be described as “compact”. They certainly don’t lack in the facilities front, with a decent size sink and a walk-in shower. However, they don’t have a lot of floor space and it’d certainly be a squeeze for two people to use it at the same time.

The Executive Lounge experience

One of the benefits of staying in an Executive Room or a suite at Doubletree hotels is that you have access to the Executive Lounge. The exact offering in Executive Lounges varies, though as a minimum they tend to offer breakfast and tea & coffee throughout the day.

The Executive Lounge at the Doubletree by Hilton, Tower of London has a Happy Hour in the evening from 5:30 till 8:00. The drink options were a bit limited. There was only a choice of red and white wine, London Pride and draught Becks beers or fruit juices. At the same time, the food choice was better than I had expected, with really tasty chicken wings, crudités, a selection of cheeses and a couple of different types of canapé.

The lounge at the Doubletree by Hilton, Tower of London is fairly small. Consequently, when it filled up during Happy Hour it felt a bit claustrophobic. It certainly wasn’t a space where we felt we could chill out.

In addition, the atmosphere wasn’t helped by the behaviour of some of the guests. The second the staff started to put out the food, guests were swarming all over the counter and grabbing food to load up their plates. Similarly, some people seemed to take the presence of the many wine bottles as a signal to grab a couple of bottles and try to neck them down as quickly as possible. Under the circumstances, the staff did a good job of trying to keep the buffet stocked.

Food and drink options at the Doubletree by Hilton, Tower of London

There are two bars in the hotel. Firstly, there is the Lobby Bar, a light and airy space under the hotel’s central atrium. As well as drinks, the bar serves a selection of light lounge bites and afternoon tea. The second bar is the SkyLounge on the twelfth floor. The SkyLounge has fantastic views over London and features live DJ sets on Friday and Saturday nights.

For dinner, the only option is The Natural Kitchen, located on the ground floor. The Natural Kitchen is a small restaurant chain. Although the restaurant is not operated by the hotel, guests can charge their meals to their room (and earn Hilton Honors points) when dining there.

For breakfast, you have the option of going to the City Café or eating in the Lobby Bar, which transforms into a dining space for breakfast service. Guests of staying in an Executive Room or a suite can take breakfast in the Executive Lounge.

Dinner in The Natural Kitchen

We had dined at The Natural Kitchen a few times and knew that it can be busy. Therefore, we decided to reserve a table for 8:30. We were a bit surprised to find there were only a few tables in there when we arrived. However, that meant that we had a choice of tables, so that was a win. I filled up a but while we were eating.

Service was prompt, with three different waiters asking if we’d like to order something to drink. (I’d rather be asked a few times than ignored). We ordered Domaine Attilon Provence rose wine. The wine list offered a good choice and all the wines they serve are organic, with some vegan options.

The menu offers a fairly good choice, with eight starter options, eleven mains, a choice of burgers and a few steaks. There are a few vegetarian options but only one vegan main course. I decided to have the Beer-battered Cod & Chips, made from sustainable Atlantic cod and served with minted peas and homemade tartare sauce. As well as the regular menu, there were a few specials. Bart opted to try the Crab Linguine, a mix of Devon crab and rock lobster in a chilli butter with fresh coriander from the specials menu.

When the food arrived, I was surprised at how generous the portions were. The batter on my fish was light and crisp, and the tartare sauce was light and tangy. Meanwhile, Bart’s pasta was well cooked and the chilli butter had a nice kick to it. The only downside with the large portions was we both struggled to finish. We definitely had no room for dessert. When we asked for the bill, it came inside a Ladybird book, which was a fun touch.

Taking in the views from the SkyLounge

Located on the twelfth floor, the SkyLounge offers fantastic views of the London skyline. The Doubletree by Hilton, Tower of London is slightly taller than most of the buildings that are close to it. As a result, on the twelfth floor, there is nothing to block your view.

There are indoor & terrace seating areas and in warm weather, the terraces can get packed quite early in the evening. There are live DJs to create a laid-back party vibe and the bar serves a range of signature cocktails. We ordered a couple of glasses of wine and made our way onto the South Terrace to enjoy the views. From the terrace, you get great views of Tower Bridge, the River Thames and The Shard. The views are spectacular at night when the buildings are all lit up.

After spending a while on the terrace we headed inside and found some chairs to sit and relax with our drinks. We had a look at the SkyLounge menu while we were there. They serve a range of bar bites in the evening if you want something to soak up the alcohol. Also, on weekends, the SkyLounge is open for brunch. If you are staying at the hotel on a weekend and are on a rate that includes breakfast, you can upgrade to SkyLounge brunch for just £10.

Bed, breakfast and home

When we finished our wine, we went down to our room and turned in for the night. We watched a bit of TV before going off to sleep. In my opinion, it was definitely a better experience on the 52″ TV than it used to be on the iMac.

After sleeping well in our king size bed, we woke refreshed and went down for breakfast. We decide to go to the Executive Lounge.  Fortunately, it was much less like a zoo than it was during Happy Hour the night before. The buffet had a reasonable selection of both hot & cold items and was kept stocked up while we were in there. We both went for the hot breakfast, which was actually hot and tasty.

After breakfast, we quickly popped back up to the room and then checked out. Check out was well organised, with additional luggage storage put on in one of the conference rooms on the first floor.

All that remained after checkout was to take the ten-minute stroll back to our flat. In my opinion, the Doubletree by Hilton, Tower of London offers good value for money given the standard of the facilities. We only use it for the occasional points stay. However, it is a hotel we’d recommend as a good base if you’re visiting London. My parents stayed there a few years ago and decided that it was their favourite hotel in London. If they loved it, I’m sure you will too.