Comfort and value in a changing landscape
Let’s be honest, Croydon might not be the first place you think of staying in. But perhaps I can make you reconsider those preconceptions.
I’ve just spent a night as a guest of the 4* Croydon Park Hotel, located perfectly for easy access by train to central London (less than 20 minutes to Victoria or London Bridge), and to Gatwick Airport (journey time 15-20 minutes, trains every 15 minutes during peak times).
The hotel is very welcoming, and all the staff members exude a friendly, professional image from the moment you arrive.
Our 4th floor room – recently refurbished in calming, neutral colours – was spacious and comfortable, with a sofa and table as well as a King-sized bed, flat-screen TV and every other amenity expected these days. Free Wi-Fi is available throughout the hotel.
Before dinner, work up an appetite in the gym or in the 35-foot long indoor pool, or heat up in the jacuzzi or sauna. The H2O Leisure Club is free to hotel guests, and also has external local members.
Head to Whistlers Bar for a drink in a warm atmosphere, either before dinner in Oscars Brasserie or for a lighter supper while you watch a sports game on the huge screens.
But the main culinary event happens every day and evening at Oscars: feast on an all-you-can-eat 5 course gourmet buffet, for a fixed price of £22.50 pp (£27.50 with a ½ bottle of decent wine).
Start with fresh soup, or a seafood medley of salmon, lobster, prawns and mussels, together with a wide option of salads. Move on to the freshly carved meat du jour, with chicken, fish and other meats already lined up on the groaning table, next to vegetables, rice, sauces and more trimmings than you’d see at a curtain exhibition. If you’re still going, choose one of the many sweets – the vanilla cheesecake is highly recommended – before filling up completely with cheeses, tea and coffee.
The breakfast buffet is no less impressive, whether you’re going Continental or traditional full English. But save some space for croissants and Danish pastries with your fresh coffee.
If you’re staying local, visit the Horniman Museum & Gardens, like I did as a 6 year-old on school visits a lifetime ago. Sports fans will want to head to Twickenham Stadium for rugby, Crystal Palace for football and Wimbledon for the annual tennis pilgrimage. The brilliant Tramlink is a painless 45 minutes from Croydon to Wimbledon.
Back in Croydon town centre, I have vivid memories of being dragged along to the newly opened Whitgift shopping centre in the late 1960s. It’s still there, but over the next few years a recently confirmed investment of £1bn will transform it into a vast Westfield retail centre, together with homes, offices, and leisure activities that will regenerate Croydon as the best place to live, shop and work in south London.
The Croydon Park Hotel is well positioned now, as a cost effective alternative to high priced London hotels just 20 minutes away, and it will only continue to benefit from the transformation of Croydon itself in the very near future.