London (review published 2010)

The helicopter was taking off not 50 metres from the window of our hotel room.
Yet, such was the quality of the floor to ceiling triple-glazing, we could hardly hear the whirling of its blades.
My wife and I had come to expect nothing less during our weekend at the new Hotel Verta in Battersea, the only hotel in Europe next to a heliport.
Opened in September, the hotel has quality written through it like the word Blackpool is written through the seaside town’s sugary rock.
There are 70 bedrooms, many with views of the Thames, all with ultra-modern furnishings, underfloor heating, Wi-fi internet access and a huge plasma TV with Sky channels.
The hotel has been designed to evoke the golden age of travel… a glamorous and sophisticated era when every need was taken care of and every demand met.
The website says “visiting our hotel is like watching a classic film on the latest technology” which is all very well unless, like me, you’re a technophobe.
There was a TV above the bath taps but I couldn’t even work out how to switch it on, although that was probably for the best because I would have sat soaking there all weekend.
When I went to the bathroom in the night I couldn’t turn on the light without illuminating the bedroom like a disco floor, much to the chagrin of my other half.
And my disastrous attempts at using the espresso machine meant I wasn’t in the housekeeper’s good books.
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Hotel Verta, Battersea
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The state-of-the-art equipment in the subterranean gym was equally confusing but thankfully there was always someone on hand to explain how things worked.
Hotel Verta is part of the London Heliport complex, which is the only commercial heliport in London, recently celebrating its 50th anniversary.
The heliport is an exclusive staging post for the world’s rich and famous who need look no further for somewhere to crash for the night (if you’ll forgive the phrase).
Its departure lounge is definitely the place to be seen and hotel guests with a special occasion to mark can book 20-minute pleasure flights over the capital (£650 for four people).
The hotel also forms part of the regeneration of the Thames riverfront at Battersea where apartments change hands for silly money.
Reading my complimentary Sunday Times I noticed that Dannii Minogue of X Factor fame had put her Battersea pad, right next door to the hotel, up for sale for £500,000.
The hotel is part of the von Essen group of luxury hotels (it’s first new build) and as such it has mastered the art of hospitality.
This is most evident when dining at the groundfloor restaurant which serves up traditional and modern British and European dishes.
The kitchen is in full view of some tables so budding Gordon Ramsays can watch and learn as their food is being prepared.
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Bedroom_Verta.jpg
Hotel Verta, Battersea
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But there is also the option of an intimate dining experience with the only distraction being the sight of Madonna or Simon Cowell stepping from a helicopter.
Upstairs is a swanky bar, with a balcony overlooking the Thames, serving a wide choice of cocktails including non-alcoholic ones “for the pilots”.
Next to the gym are five therapy rooms where an endless list of treatments are offered using Anne Semonin, Comfort Zone and Mama Mio products.
I enjoyed a heavenly full body Spa Verta signature massage (cost £85) finished off with a bellini sorbet in the “recharge and relaxation room”.
The hour passed so quickly I feared I may have fallen asleep on the table.
Another floor down are the jewel-like thermal treatment rooms where you can take a tropical shower or relax on a heated lounger and dream of warmer climes.
There’s also a sauna, steam room and hydrotherapy pool with air seats, air loungers, a standing air station and neck massage stations.
So if you’re someone who yearns for good, old fashioned service and classic interiors but who can’t live without 21st century gadgets, this is the hotel for you.
Or if you’re someone who likes to indulge their taste buds, relax in an oasis of calm and get a really good night’s sleep, then it’s for you, too.
That’s right, a good night’s sleep – even with all the comings and goings of helicopters.
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Travel file
Hotel Verta, London’s Vertical Gateway, Bridges Wharf, Battersea, London SW11 3BE. Underground valet parking is available. The nearest underground is Clapham Junction, a 10-minute walk away. Double rooms from £175 exc VAT.  Since my review was published, the hotel has been taken over by Crowne Plaza. Click here for information.
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UPDATE: The hotel is now the Crowne Plaza London – Battersea

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