It has been a while since I have travelled to London. After over a decade working in and around Fleet Street, ‘the boulevard of broken dreams!’, my life took a different course as I switched to editing magazines.
Life in London was always chaotic, with people scurrying like ants here, there and everywhere. Stop and politely ask someone for directions, for instance, and they would give you a supicious look and carry on walking, perhaps slightly more urgently this time. Nothing has changed.
It happened to me in Camden High Street on the Monday morning after my overnight at The Wesley Camden Town. I checked out of the hotel at around 8am to be greeted by a damp, drizzly, humid Monday. There were few people around. Those that were had coats on or umbrellas up; others had hoodies pulled over their eyes; and some guy was heading towards me performing some sort of Rasta rap. I was making for the sister hotel, The Wesley Euston, for a prearranged breakfast. At a road intersection, I asked someone which was the quickest route. They ignored me. The second person said they were not from the area. The third person did not speak English and, finally, the fourth person, a young man with headphones on, stopped and indicated the way. It proved to be the longest way round as I ended up having to circumnavigate Euston Station before arriving at the hotel. I wasn’t best pleased because the drizzle was intermittent, and the humidity was on the rise.
I had arrived at King’s Cross Station on a bright, sunny Sunday and hopped on the tube one stop down the line to Camden Town. As expected, the area was busy with shoppers, locals, and tourists; later it would explode into life. I strolled along Camden High Street before arriving at Plender Street where the hotel was nestled to the right on the corner of King’s Terrace. The hotel stood out like a sore thumb, only because its architectural exterior was quite magnificent. The hotel had, in fact, begun life as a Wesleyan Methodist Chapel in 1824. Plender Street was at this time called King Street. In 1860 the Wesleyans built a new church at Camden Street, selling their original chapel to the Primitive Methodists. The building was rebuilt in 1890 and included a school and classrooms. In 2016 the former Camden Town Primitive Methodist Chapel was still being used for worship as Camden Town Methodist Church, at which time the building was found to be structurally unsafe and beyond the ability of its declining congregation to maintain. Planning consent was duly sought to convert it into a hotel, with the proviso of retaining a worship area and associated facilities.
Look around, and despite much of Camden Town retaining its original architecture, there is little of merit except for the new boutique hotel. The total refurbishment of the interiors used sustainably sourced materials helped transform the building into a contemporary, chic hotel boasting 38 bedrooms. Located in Camden Town Conservation Area within one of London’s most popular tourist areas, it is a delight to see its historic façade having been renovated with such sensitively. Enter through the pillor-flanked doorway and guests are treated to a stylish design and warm, hospitable colours throughout.
As you enter the foyer, reception is to your left, and to the right is a long table where one can sit and enjoy the free coffee and tea making facilities whilst gazing down through large windows to the chapel below.
It is possible to descend the stairs to the left of the lift and have a look round the chapel with its magnificent stained glass windows. The chapel is laid out currently as a conference facility room with chairs and large television screens for projectors.
I was booked into a Classic Double Room on the second floor, complete with queen-size bed; ensuite shower; complimentary toiletries; tea and coffee making facilities complete with biscuits; air-conditioning; LCD TV; and free WiFi. Above the small cubbyhole which houses the tray of tea, coffee and drinking chocolate area is a space for hanging clothes, and above that an over-shelf houses a hairdryer and iron, but there are no drawers for clothes or personal belongings, and neither was there a bedside table with drawer access. It was all very simplistic, and clinical, although absolutely spotless throughout. New to me was the opportunity to download the Wesley app prior to arrival, when you can go directly to your room and use your phone as your door key on the day of arrival. Check-in is from 2pm. But that’s not all, as the saying goes, because once in your room, apparently should you require room service there is no need to ring reception, as you can select what you like on the app and the hotel will take of the rest. Clever, eh.
If there was to be any disappointment, it was the fact that there was no lounge, bar or dining area at the hotel, so if guests want evening refreshment and a meal, they have to leave the hotel (thus the reason for my taking the prearranged breakfast at The Camden Euston).
After showering, I headed along Camden High Street to Camden Locks on the Regent’s Canal. If ever there was a haven of counter-culture, then this is it. It’s where cafés and eateries jostle for customers, and most places seemed pretty much full, even early evening. Apart from the area being appropriate for window browsing and hunting down unusual gifts, works of art and antiques, there is little wonder the area has built a reputation as the place to come for canalside eateries and for sampling cosmopolitan flavours from around the world. Ah, perhaps I should also mention in passing that during my stroll along Camden High Street, I was offered no less than three times some, ahem, ‘weed’…
In conclusion, due to its location and easy access to tube stations and all points London, The Wesley Camden Town is a bit of a hidden gem and makes for a perfect overnight or weekend break. A quick check at the time my visit showed a price of £161.19 per night for a Classic Double Room. You could also opt for a Senior Double Room at 193.59, but it is always worth checking the website or ringing the hotel directly for current rates.
- The Wesley Camden Town, 89 Plender Street, London NW1 0JN
- Website: thewesley.co.uk
- Email: email@example.com
- Telephone: 020 7691 1444
- Facebook: @thewesleyldn
- Instagram: @thewelseylondon_
- Instagram: The Wesley
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