A cooling terrace (and a cocktail or two) at The Bloomsbury, London

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When it’s hot in the city, your first instinct might be to run for the hills (or the coast) but I was pleased to discover last week that just steps from the sweltering heat of Tottenham Court Road tube station, The Bloomsbury hotel was the perfect spot in which to cool down.

Bloomsbury hotel London
The Dalloway Terrace at the Bloomsbury hotel is a lovely spot whatever the weather

Its hidden secret is the Dalloway Terrace which runs along the side of the hotel: from the outside it doesn’t look like anything special, but those who ascend the steps will find a perfectly lovely two-tiered terrace with lush plants  – the perfect place in which to shelter from the boiling sun and enjoy afternoon tea, a cocktail or two, or even an al fresco dinner as night descends.

Bloomsbury hotel London
The grand lobby of the Bloomsbury hotel

Having endured a sweltering Tube journey across town, I was somewhat surprised to be asked: ‘Would you like a hot towel?’ when I checked in at reception. Rather than risk over-heating, I accepted a cooling mint water instead from the water coolers in the lobby and headed up to my room, a studio suite, which was on the fifth floor.

Bloomsbury hotel London
My room was a great size, with big windows, no noise from outside and vivid splashes of colour everywhere
Bloomsbury hotel London
My colourful chaise-longue

It was vast, especially by London standards, with a king-sized bed, desk, a bright pink chaise-longue, ample storage space and a massive TV on a clever swivel stand. The bathroom was smart in a black and white art deco marble style, with walk-in shower, twin sinks, rolltop bath (with a TV at one end) and separate loo.

Bloomsbury hotel London
The roll-top bath in my very smart bathroom. There was a TV at one end and twin sinks at the other
Bloomsbury hotel London
My invitation to a literary walking tour of Bloomsbury

There were lovely touches such as an umbrella on a stand for if the weather turned and, as befits a hotel in the heart of literary Bloomsbury, an invite to a walking tour of the area, following in the footsteps of George Orwell, Charles Dickens and of course, Virginia Woolf.

The shaded terrace was calling so a quick turnaround meant I was soon in seated at the Dalloway Terrace, in cooler clothes  and about to dive into a cool drink. While there was a decent cocktail list, there was also a special pop-up bar and list of cocktails made with the French G’vine gin. It seemed rude not to try them, so I went for a Bloomsbury Martini and my friend Duncan, who worked just round the corner, chose the Dalloway Spritz.

They were both very refreshing and tasty – possibly the menu could have hinted at size though, as Duncan’s was three times the size of mine, but sitting out in the heat without feeling hot and bothered was lovely.

Bloomsbury hotel London
A Dalloway spritz (left) and the smaller (but perfectly formed) Bloomsbury Martini

Round two of the cocktails was a little less successful as my cucumber sour looked pretty but seemed to not contain any alcohol at all. After a little discussion as to whether it did or not, the waiter admitted that some cocktails weren’t actually made in-house but were brought in ready-made, which seemed a shame considering there was a very impressive bar downstairs.

Bloomsbury hotel London
If you fancy a cosier cocktail place than the terrace, there is the Bloomsbury Club Bar downstairs, which has a heated outside area (pictured)

Duncan had no complaints about his Honeycombe Old-Fashioned though, and things looked up again when we realised we could eat outside rather than having to leave the lovely terrace, and from the proper restaurant menu too.

It’s always a good sign when it’s impossible to decide what you’re having and there was a good 20 minutes of dithering before we decided on our starters of Dorset crab on toast and seared tuna, followed by seared scallops with spinach and chanterelles, and the day’s special of roast hake with olive pesto.

Bloomsbury hotel London
My starter of Dorset crab on toast, with apple, egg and watercress
Bloomsbury hotel London
The main course of hand-dived scallops with spinach, chanterelles and teriyaki dressing

The chef didn’t put a foot wrong with all dishes being extremely tasty and as the sun went down and the night lights came on, the whole effect was of a Mediterranean evening rather than one just steps away from the roadworks hell of Tottenham Court Road.

Breakfast the following morning was sadly a bit of a let-down after such a memorable dinner, as even though the Dalloway Terrace was open, hotel guests weren’t allowed to eat there, as the breakfast buffet was served downstairs in a low-ceiled, claustrophobic room. Not only was it sad to miss out on a lovely al fresco breakfast opportunity but I wasn’t even having the buffet. Service was slow and while the cooked option was fine, breakfast in the sun could have been a perfect end to my stay.

Bloomsbury hotel London
The entrance shows the 1920s style elegance of the hotel

However the rooms are priced very reasonably for such a central location and smart hotel, and I will most certainly be back for another evening of cocktails and excellent food on the Dalloway Terrace, even after the summer is over.

The Bloomsbury,
16-22 Great Russell Street
London
United Kingdom WC1B 3NN
Phone: +44 20 7347 1000
bloomsbury@doylecollection.com

Rooms at The Bloomsbury start from £225 and Studio Suites (like the one I stayed in) are from £420. 

The Bloomsbury is part of The Doyle Collection which includes The Kensington and Marylebone hotels in London and the Westbury in Dublin.

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Sarah Bridge

Sarah Bridge

Every review is personally researched and written by leisure expert Sarah Bridge who, when she is not writing about leisure for a national newspaper, spends her time seeking out the best leisure experiences, from city centre boutique hotels to country house estates, Michelin-starred dining to the newest openings.
Sarah Bridge
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