This 63-room hotel has retained its original beautiful Victorian architecture and ornate period furnishings in the common areas -- but the rooms are generically furnished, worn, and have a corporate feel. Nevertheless, its unparalleled central location and exclusive status as the only mid-range (read: affordable) hotel in the vicinity mean a relatively reasonable option in the very teeth of London's tourism beast. There's no pool, though, so young travelers may be disappointed.
A grand lobby but generic, functional rooms in the geographical heart of London
With beautiful period flourishes such as soaring ceilings, majestic columns, intricate ceiling work, and ornate furnishings, the Grand's lobby and in-house brasserie are truly magnificent architectural works from the Victorian era. You can decide for yourself whether the two-and-a-half-story-high gold velvet curtains, Italian marble walls and flooring, and giant radial crystal chandeliers are more grandiose than grand -- but don't expect the rooms to echo the same period character, as generic faux-finish wallpaper, crinkled bedspreads, and gym locker-room-style shower stalls distract from the building's original Victorian beauty.
Just down the street from Trafalgar Square, within view of Nelson's column, and a few minutes' walk from Charing Cross and Embankment stations
As London's original geographic heart both historically and presently, Charing Cross is exceptionally well-situated for exploring nearly all of London's major tourist sites. Indulge in the opportunity to stroll virtually everywhere -- even if you're feeling lazy, you can rely on Charing Cross and Embankment stations around the corner to take you wherever you need to go.
Just down the street from the hotel is Trafalgar Square, one of London's most iconic public spaces. The architecture is virtually completely preserved from its original completion in 1845, all the way down to the four bronze lion statues guarding Nelson's column (which, incidentally, Hitler tried to steal in 1940). When it's not overwhelmed with dense throngs of tourists, the area serves as an official outdoor gathering space for protests, demonstrations, and performances -- historically, the square was such a frequent site for expressing political discontent that water fountains were introduced in an effort to keep the public from gathering in too large crowds.
32-minute drive to Heathrow Airport
2-minute walk to Trafalgar Square
3-minute walk to the National Portrait Gallery
4-minute walk to the Institute of Contemporary Arts
5-minute walk to the Thames
6-minute walk to St. James' Park
7-minute walk to Leicester Square
9-minute walk to Covent Garden
10-minute walk to Piccadilly circus and West End theatres
10-minute walk to Chinatown
13-minute walk to the South Bank
13-minute walk to Soho
14-minute walk to Westminster Abbey, Houses of Parliament, and Big Ben