If you’re travelling around South East Asia this month and want a diversion on your next flight or by the pool, look out for DestinAsian magazine. In it you’ll see my recent review of The Ned, one of London’s newest hotels, which just opened near the Bank of England last month.

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Think about great inventions of the 20th century and what springs to mind?

There are those who’d say penicillin, electric air conditioning, the airplane or nuclear power.

But I’d say the soft-close loo seat has to be up there. Seriously, don’t knock it till you’ve tried it. The gentle, almost imperceptible clunk as it lands at 2am has surely saved almost as many marriages as antibiotics. OK, perhaps not, but once you go soft-close, you’ll never go back to the rude, noisy thwack on porcelain of a regular toilet seat.

The point being, and there is one, that I was very pleasantly surprised to see a soft-close loo seat in the bathroom of the budget-oriented Room 2 Hotel in Hammersmith, W6 recently when I had an overnight staycation with the other half before new year. It’s a budget hotel that doesn’t feel budget: they’re obviously not skimping.

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Situated at 120 Hammersmith Grove, the hotel blends into the residential street, a 5-minute walk from Hammersmith tube.

There’s no reception – how millennial! – so instead you key in a door code that’s been emailed to you prior to arrival. Ditto the code for your room. There’s a well-stocked vending machine on the ground floor with everything from toothbrushes to popcorn and hand sanitizer in it, and a well-maintained garden at the back, which must be a boon in summer. On the top floor was a small washer and dryer room.

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Our bedroom – a large studio – on the top floor had a kitchenette with a dishwasher, microwave, toaster, stove top and kettle, eating area, a decent-sized bathroom with shower and a very soft bed, and overall was well designed. The TV swivelled out from the wall (perfect to watch in bed) and we could have streamed downloads from our phone or tablet had we not been tech dinosaurs. The double glazed windows did a good job of shielding the road noise outside. We loved the practical, local what-to-do suggestions left in an envelope by our bed. Quick, strong wifi is available throughout the building.

We could have got some food and cooked in our room but we walked ten minutes to the Anglesea Arms gastropub, and for breakfast the next morning tucked into bacon and pancakes at Bill’s near Hammersmith Broadway.

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Any niggles? Well I’m a light sleeper and did hear a few night owls returning to their rooms in the small hours. Maybe earplugs could be in the vending machine for us princesses who demand nocturnal silence?

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Overall, it’s a cool place to stay and gets all the basics right in a way that’s far from basic. Once you hop on the tube at Hammersmith, Piccadilly Circus and Leicester Square are just 15 minutes away, and Heathrow half an hour. London’s classic tourist sites await, but then so does a Londoner’s London, with pubs, shops and parks that many visitors never get to see.

Double rooms at Room 2 start from £109 per night (correct, January 2017), www.room2.com

Will Hide stayed as a guest of the hotel.

Photos copyright Room 2 and Oliver Markham.

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If you’re flying on Virgin Australia this month, look out for my article in its inflight magazine “Voyeur” about London, which asks if the British capital is losing its mojo after this year’s Brexit fun and games. (Spoiler alert: no, of course it’s not!)

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Global Entry Enrollment Center to Open in London
Applicants can begin scheduling interviews now through the GOES website

 WASHINGTON—U.S. Customs and Border Protection will open a Global Entry enrollment center at the U.S. Embassy in London for 60 days beginning on September 26. Conditionally-approved Global Entry applicants can now register for an interview with a CBP officer at the London location on the Global Online Enrollment System (GOES) website. Global Entry, a CBP Trusted Traveler Program, allows for expedited clearance of pre-approved, low-risk travelers.

 The enrollment center will be open Monday through Wednesday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. CBP officers will only interview Global Entry applicants with appointments. The U.S. Embassy is located at 24 Grosvenor Square, London W1A 2LQ.

CBP announced in December 2015 that UK citizens could apply for Global Entry following a successful pilot program that began in 2011. More than 8,800 UK citizens are currently enrolled in Global Entry. Nearly five million Britons visited the United States in Fiscal Year 2015 and more than 125,000 of those visitors traveled to the United States four or more times.

Currently available at 49 U.S. airports and 13 preclearance locations, Global Entry streamlines the screening process at airports for trusted travelers. Global Entry members bypass the traditional CBP inspection lines and use an automated kiosk to complete their admission to the United States. The program has enrolled more than 3 million members, and CBP receives approximately 100,000 new applications for Global Entry each month. As an added benefit, Global Entry members are also eligible to participate in the TSA Pre✓™expedited screening program.

To register for Global Entry, UK citizens will apply through the UK Home Office website and pay a £42 processing fee. If the applicant passes the UK vetting process, they will receive a “UK Access Code,” which applicants will need to enter when applying for Global Entry through CBP’s Global Online Enrollment System (GOES). The non-refundable application fee for a five-year Global Entry membership is $100 and applications must be submitted online. Once the application is approved, a CBP officer will conduct a scheduled interview with the applicant and then make a final eligibility determination.

While the goal of Global Entry is to speed travelers through the process, no traveler is guaranteed expedited screening and members may be selected for further examination when entering the United States. Any violation of the program’s terms and conditions will result in appropriate enforcement action and revocation of the traveler’s membership privileges.

U.S. citizens are eligible to apply for the United Kingdom’s trusted traveler program, Registered Traveller. Members enrolled in Registered Traveller may use E-gates at airports in the United Kingdom. The service costs £70 to apply and an additional £50 a year thereafter. If the application is unsuccessful, the applicant will receive £50 back. To qualify for Registered Traveller, a U.S. citizen must make 4 trips to the UK per year.

July 27, 2016
Contact: CBP Public Affairs
(202) 344-1780

-CBP-

U.S. Customs and Border Protection is the unified border agency within the Department of Homeland Security charged with the management, control and protection of our nation’s borders at and between official ports of entry. CBP is charged with keeping terrorists and terrorist weapons out of the country while enforcing hundreds of U.S. laws.

See this link… https://uk.usembassy.gov/global-entry-enrollment-center-top-open-in-london/

 

Here’s a piece that’s in this month’s Sunday Times Travel Magazine, on late-night London, in anticipation of the all-night tube service that’s supposed to start next month. With all the previous and planned strikes about it, it’s touch and go whether it will actually happen on time or not. We’ll see (Click each page to expand).

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