This month, Mike Fletcher stays at the refurbished and renamed DoubleTree by Hilton Angel Kings Cross and discovers a unique in-room fitness offer.
I’ll be honest. I don’t need much of an excuse to avoid using a hotel gym. ‘Oh I’ve forgotten my gear,’ ‘I’m wearing the wrong kind of trainers’ or ‘I just don’t have the time to work-out, get showered and changed before I head out’, are generally my top three pretences for giving the usually sweat-scented studio, hidden away in the basement of most hotels a wide berth.
Apparently, I’m not alone either. Female business travellers in particular find hotel gyms intimidating, while corporate group participants dread being joined on an adjacent treadmill by their boss.
Hilton however, believes it has the answer to both this genuine gym feedback, but also to my more lackadaisical attitude to using a hotel’s fitness facilities.
On my recent visit to view the £6 million refurbishment of the renamed DoubleTree by Hilton London Angel Kings Cross, I got to try out the brand’s Five Feet to Fitness guest-room concept - a first for EMEA and only available in three of the 381 bedrooms at this four-star Islington property.
Despite having been pre-warned and told to bring my Under Armour, I really only expected a single piece of equipment placed in my room.
What I saw when my keycard activated the bedroom lights though, was an indoor bike from British cycling company Wattbike, plus a Gym Rax training station, fully-equipped for strength, core, suspension and High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)-style workouts.
Embedded in the Gym Rax is a Fitness Kiosk - a touch-screen display where guests can view equipment tutorials and follow multiple guided workout routines to 11 different programmes, ranging from Strength and Stamina, Cycling, Boxing and HIIT to Yoga and Meditation.
It’s the variety of the in-room activity that’s impressive.
By being away from home, I was already missing my weekly yoga class. So I eased my guilt with a few seated spine twists, a couple of cobras (not the beer!) and a forward bend to table, before being guided through seven boxing tutorials, which had me bobbing and weaving and throwing some combo punches.
But I could have opted to learn how to use, among other items, a Bosu, suspension trainer or the available power bands, all from the comfort and privacy of my room (thus avoiding the inevitable embarrassment of doing it wrong).
Instead, I burnt-off a chocolate bar with a quick Spin cycle, before collapsing onto my bed (which incidentally is about five feet from the equipment, although that’s not how the concept got its name. It’s more about needing just five feet to do the activities apparently).
Once recovered, I ventured from my room to check-out the new conference and meetings facilities at DoubleTree by Hilton Angel Kings Cross.
In 2014, the brand spent around £13.5 million transforming the property into the DoubleTree by Hilton Islington.
The hotel’s second change of name in January this year was to reflect its close proximity to Kings Cross and St Pancras International, as well as to the Business Design Centre and the London headquarters of brands such as Google, Universal Music, Havas and soon, Facebook.
The name change was accompanied by a Phase two investment of £6 million, which has seen 230 bedrooms plus the event space fully refurbished.
There’s also now eight standard bedrooms, adjacent to the meetings space on the ground floor, plus two Junior suites and a one-bedroom suite.
The ground-floor features three large spaces that can be partitioned into six meeting rooms with swathes of natural daylight, ready to accommodate from 10 to 120 guests. There’s also a small courtyard space for break-outs and barbecues when the weather improves.
If meat on the grill is your culinary preference, DoubleTree by Hilton Angel Kings Cross also boasts a Marco Pierre White Steakhouse Bar & Grill with private dining options.
The British chef and ‘Enfant terrible’ of the UK restaurant scene apparently hasn’t been seen in his hotel restaurant since before 2017 however. So in a quest to see him return, I’d recommend requesting his celebrity presence as an add-on to future MICE bookings.
Who knows, maybe he’ll take a Five Feet to Fitness room and do a calming meditation before donning his chef whites and cooking you up a signature fillet.
By Mike Fletcher