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REVIEWS


EUROSTAR Business Premier Business Premier meal The Premier lounge at St Pancras


EUROSTAR LAUNCHED a twice-daily London-Amsterdam direct route last year and recently added a third daily train. By Matthew Parsons


CHECK-IN I arrived at St Pancras International on a Sunday morning one hour before departure and was met by queues for the main Eurostar entrance. However, Business Premier passengers have a dedicated check-in and can arrive up to ten minutes before departure, so I swiped my ticket and had my luggage scanned in under a minute. I breezed through into passport


control where the automated biometric machines frequently froze, so between that and a slow passport control queue, I lost 30 minutes. BOARDING I briefly made use of the excellent business lounge, which


has complimentary drinks, pastries and snacks, and a great selection of newspapers and magazines. There was plenty of seating, too. When the boarding call came, I exited the lounge and joined fellow passengers. There’s no dedicated entrance to the platform for Business Premier ticket holders. THE SEAT I had a single comfortable seat, which reclined, and offered space to eat while reading, with USB/charging sockets. I expected reliable wifi in the Business Premier carriage, but the signal was intermittent. However, Eurostar is planning a wifi upgrade across the fleet.


POINT A KENSINGTON OLYMPIA London


OPENED IN JULY, Point A Kensington Olympia offers cosy rooms within easy commuting distance of the exhibition venue, Heathrow airport and all of West London’s main attractions. By Molly Dyson


Point A lobby area


WHERE IS IT? Located a five-minute walk from Earl’s Court underground station, the hotel is situated on West Cromwell Road. Formerly an Easyhotel, the property was refurbished by the Queensway Group and rebranded as a moderately priced Point A Hotel. WHAT’S IT LIKE? It has 103 rooms, including five accessible options, ranging from 9 to 12sqm. In the lobby, there’s a snack bar where breakfast is also served. While the rooms are small, every design feature has been chosen to maximise the available space. I stayed in one of the smaller, standard “Cosy” rooms (the only category available at this property) and it didn’t feel at all cramped. It featured a double-size


Hypnos bed (there are also twin rooms available) with a


140 SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2019


side table built into the headboard and handy power/USB points. A compact vanity provides extra storage and also extends into a working desk with a fold-out chair strapped to the wall to keep it out of the way when not in use. There was no wardrobe, but there


Point A “Cosy” double room


were hangers on the wall. Also included in the room was a 43-inch smart TV with Chromecast, free wifi, a hairdryer, customisable mood lighting, air conditioning and a bathroom with a power shower and steam-proof mirror. BUSINESS The hotel doesn’t have any meeting rooms, but the lobby has plenty of seating with power points throughout, so business travellers can sit and work or have an informal meeting. However, being so conveniently located for Kensington


Olympia and with speedy access into central London, this property is certainly a good choice for budget- conscious business travellers with rates from £75 per night. VERDICT I was impressed with what Point A has done with this Kensington hotel and it dispelled any negative ideas I may have had based on the price point. And with the “Brekkie” breakfast buffet available for £9pp, including a selection of cereals, freshly baked pastries, yogurt, tea and coffee, Point A’s offering is one of the better options for business travellers trying to save a penny or two.


buyingbusinesstravel.com


THE JOURNEY The crew were friendly welcoming and swiftly offered drinks, plus snacks. There’s a Raymond Blanc lunch menu: my starter of hot and sour salad with chargrilled corn, cucumber and rice was refreshing, and the braised lamb with turnip puree, Swiss chard and golden beetroot was delicious. A cold option of smoked trout with salsa verde and horseradish creme fraiche was also offered, along with a lighter quinoa and wheat salad with goat’s cheese and elderflower dressing. The only off note was a warm gin and tonic served in a tin without a glass, lemon or ice cubes. ARRIVAL We arrived at Amsterdam on time, and as with Paris, there’s no passport control so you can speedily exit the station.


JOURNEY TIME I’m used to taking the Eurostar to Paris, so the extra stops made the journey seem long (3hrs 41m). The return journey currently involves changing at Brussels Midi, resulting in an even longer time of 4hrs 42m. VERDICT The main advantage with Business Premier is efficiency – travellers save time thanks to the dedicated check-in and lounge. In terms of the journey experience though, there was little difference to Standard Premier. However, Eurostar claims a London-


Amsterdam journey results in 80 per cent less carbon per passenger than a flight. Once Eurostar is able to offer a quicker direct return journey, could London-based business travellers soon be bidding “Vaarwel” to Schiphol?


HOTEL


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