A smooth transition from Heathrow to South Kensington began the London leg of our trip. We bought our oyster card, loaded it up and we were on our way. We didn’t bother with the Heathrow Express train – the tube line from the airport is the Piccadilly line, so it took us straight to South Kensington in less time than going to Paddington and changing trains. It was about 40 minutes to our stop, and our hotel was only 50 metres from the tube. Good beginnings (and there were only a few short flights of stairs to negotiate with luggage at South Kensington).
Our hotel was The Ampersand, a stylish new boutique hotel in the middle of South Kensington. The convenience for a theatre-goer of being on the Piccadilly line will never be underestimated again! – it was always just a few tube stops to get home after a show. We booked a deluxe studio room, the vibrant royal blue accents of the luxurious plush headboard and cushions provided a striking contrast with the soft greys and white of walls and furnishings – the jet-black, glossy tiles in the bathroom were attention grabbing, too! The room was really well designed, from the extra wide luggage rack with a long cantilevered shelf above for ‘stuff’, to the double-sinked bathroom with plenty of shelf space and a set of scales! The only gap I could find in the whole place was the lack of a magnifying mirror in the bathroom for those of us with eyesight issues to apply our makeup. Others on TripAdvisor have commented that the rooms are small, especially the bottom of the range single and double rooms. Our deluxe studio had the feel of a regular decent sized hotel room about it, and when shown inside I made the mistake of thinking that we had been checked into a smaller room in error, so if you can afford to up grade, go for it (we had a stay 3 nights, pay 2 deal).
We strolled around our local area and headed to the Bumpkin – a local gastro pub that we’d selected for its decent vegetarian options – and did our regular thing of ordering a few sides and starters and sharing for our late lunch/early dinner. Quite like that wine can be ordered in a number of glass sizes – 125ml, 175ml, 250ml – not bad! You also know how much you’re actually going to be served, unlike in Australia, where the actual size is determined by the individual restaurant or bar. We enjoyed our goat’s cheese and beetroot salad, buttered peas and broadbeans, and grilled asparagus with Montgomery cheddar shavings.
Further exploration of our neighbourhood lead to a bit of shopping for crisps and a bottle of wine for the evening and some watching of bad TV and reading of good books!