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Staying relaxed… with a staycation

We’re all familiar with the travel giant Expedia and how it serves as a one-stop shop for booking flights, hotels, car hire and package holidays. It’s led the way in online travel since before the millennium, having originally formed in 1999. But did you know that Expedia also has a dedicated staycation section on its website where you can book a hotel and rail journey/flight at a competitive price?  Staycations in the UK have seen a huge surge in recent years, fuelled further by Brexit and a weak pound. In fact, domestic tourism hasn’t had it this good for quite a while. And you can see the appeal – no passports required, no need to get money changed, no need to brush up on the lingo… and so on and so forth. And perhaps unsurprisingly, London is the most popular staycation of them all, ahead of Edinburgh in second and Manchester third. I took it upon myself to try out Expedia’s website for a recent stay in London to see just how easy the booking process is, and partake in a staycation of my own. I wanted to be in a central location for my visit, entered my dates and found the map a great way of homing in on a good hotel (you can also select by star rating) in an area where I wanted to be.  From there, I could quickly review prices in a visually helpful way. I picked out the Trafalgar St. James Hotel which was a little more competitively priced than some of its neighbouring competitors. Clicking on the hotel allowed me to find out more about it, see photos and learn about the hotel’s amenities. Particularly helpful is the option to read reviews from verified travellers who you can be confident have stayed in the hotel. With high scores all round, all that remained was to book! Days later, I found myself at the hotel in the late afternoon just as the darkness was falling. The hotel is in a great location and, as the name suggests, right next to Trafalgar Square. It has also recently undergone a refurbishment. Once inside, one of the things that really struck me was how quiet the hotel was, in contrast to the hustle and bustle outside; it immediately puts you at ease. I was warmly greeted and upgraded to a Trafalgar Suite. The bed was a great size, with quality linen, perfect for a great night’s sleep. Next to the bed is a tablet and docking station which you can use to find out more about hotel services and the local area, or do things such as set an alarm. The room is spacious and has a split level, with some comfortable seating a few steps up, separated by glass panelling. A few treats had been kindly left – some fruit, macaroons and other sweet treats – along with some reading material and a welcome note. The bathroom is a good size and with a great shower. The hotel is a member of the Curio Collection by Hilton. Back down on the ground floor, close to reception is a bar and restaurant. (The hotel also has its own rooftop bar and a private lounge downstairs.) The Trafalgar Dining Rooms is an atmospheric place to dine, though arguably a little on the dark side, so please excuse the photographs! The restaurant is not too stuffy and offers a pleasing balance of intimacy and informality. The food is cleanly presented and not over-complicated. I had the starter of aubergine, romesco, apple and coriander. Although traditionally a sauce designed to go with fish, the romesco complimented this dish beautifully. For my main, I went for the grilled stone bass, tomato, samphire and spring onion. The fish was cooked to perfection – wonderfully moist and tender and yet with a delicious, crispy skin on the outside. And for dessert, a fig tart with almond ice cream rounded things off rather nicely! If you are ever staying at the hotel, I’d highly recommend dining there on at least one evening. You’ll hopefully not only find it convenient, but also a rather enjoyable experience. The next morning, I could appreciate the location of my room a little better. It was immediately opposite Canada House, the High Commission of Canada to the UK and, as you can see from this shot through the window, had a great view of Nelson’s Column on the south side of Trafalgar Square. Breakfast also didn’t fail to disappoint. As well as the selection from the breakfast bar, you can choose from an a la carte breakfast menu. I’d heartiliy recommend the wild mushrooms on toasted brioche with a fried duck egg, spring onions and roasting jus. Venturing outside the hotel, you soon get a feel for how this hotel’s location is perfect for a staycation in the capital city. Following its refurbishment in the Autumn, it will surely bring a new level of excitement, vibrancy and sense of discovery to the capital, capturing the hearts of Londoners and visitors alike. As well as being close to Trafalgar Square, you of course have the National Gallery and National Portrait Gallery on your doorstep. You’re also just a short walk from the English National Opera and the Garrick Theatre, as well as all the main theatres of the West End. Charing Cross (on the Northern and Bakerloo lines) is your nearest Tube station, but the likes of Piccadilly Circus (Piccadilly and Bakerloo lines), Leicester Square (Northern and Piccadilly lines) and Embankment (Circle, District, Northern and Bakerloo lines) are all walkable, meaning that you can easily reach any part of the city, depending on what you want to do on your staycation, whether it’s shopping, sightseeing or something else. Will you be trying a staycation in the next year?  Does the prospect of a staycation appeal?  If so, please tell us in the comments – we’d love to hear your thoughts and plans! Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Expedia.

Paul Johnson

Paul Johnson is Editor of A Luxury Travel Blog and has worked in the travel industry for more than 30 years. He is Winner of the Innovations in Travel ‘Best Travel Influencer’ Award from WIRED magazine. In addition to other awards, the blog has also been voted “one of the world’s best travel blogs” and “best for luxury” by The Daily Telegraph.

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One Comment

  1. There’s a lot to be said for a Staycation. Sometimes we travel to the ends of the earth before we really know our own region or country. How often have visitors to your county been to places that you have never even thought of visiting?

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