Review: InterContinental O2 with a toddler

Another early morning flight to Europe, another hotel night. This time we had been due to fly to Geneva from Heathrow, but the flight was cancelled, and we rebooked to leave from London City. As I was on holiday with The Poppet and had an IHG free night voucher, we decided to stay the night at the O2, knowing we could be at the airport in 25mins, and leave the hotel less than an hour before departure. I knew I liked the hotel, having stayed before in 2016, so it was nice to be able to try it again.

We travelled to the hotel by Uber Boat on the Thames Clippers. Whilst not the fastest or cheapest way to go from west to east, you are unlikely to find better sightseeing en route, and you certainly cannot enjoy a drink. The boat is the only part of the TfL network where you can buy / consume alcohol.

The hotel is a 10-minute walk from the pier on the other side of the peninsula. The temporary signs from 2016 are still there, but the paths are in better condition than they used to be.

We had to wait a little while to check in, and after a bit of negotiation, we turned our basic free night into a one-bedroom king suite with lounge access for £100. The first room we went to was not a one-bedroom suite, so we duly trotted back to reception to get it sorted. The check-in team was apologetic and took our bags while we went shopping. 

One of the benefits of the hotel, and the reason we stayed there back in 2016, is the direct access to the O2. A short 2-minute walk takes you straight into the outlet shopping area where I was able to find a hat for the holiday. It is now covered and much nice than it was six years ago.

We popped into the Club Lounge for Afternoon Tea when we got back. The place was empty, and the staff were keen to interact and show us around. There was a good selection of cake and hot drinks and beautiful views through the floor-to-ceiling windows at the end.

After 15 minutes our suite was ready and our bags had been delivered. The room was great, with a comfortable bed and plenty of room for us to relax in whilst The Poppet slept in the evening.

During Covid, the spa began to operate a booking system for the pool – presumably for contact tracing purposes – and they have continued this, so we booked a swimming session at the start of the family hours. There are two slots during the day when children are welcome in the pool (1530 – 1730 is the afternoon session), so I didn’t feel bad about The Poppet screeching and giggling as she jumped in and splashed about. The pool was a bit chilly but great for 30 minutes.

We went to The Clipper Bar to meet a friend for a drink. Ambassadors get a £15 credit, so I used this to pay for the drinks, although I needed to remind the person who checked me out to apply it to the bill. The bar has 270-degree views of the river as it curves around the peninsula and is a great place to hang out.

From the bar, we headed back to the Club Lounge for the canapés. There was a decent range of hot and cold options, including tempura prawns, mini quiches and cheese, and lots of fresh fruit and nibbles. There were the usual spirits and beers along with wine and Prosecco.

Now, for whatever reason, on the day I was there, there was a very nice red wine open which I had a little taste of. I can’t remember what it was, but it was lovely. I noticed in the fridge a white Rioja – one of my favourite wines – but it was off, presumably as it had sat open in the fridge for too long. I spoke with Dinesh, the excellent Lounge host, and he said he would look to see if he had any more. A couple of minutes later he came back with a Coteaux du Layon 1er cru Chaume, a 2018 Garzon Albarino, and a 2015 Chateau du Hureau Saumur-Champigny Tuffe. These are probably £20 bottles of wine which are not remarkable per se, but they were far superior and much more interesting than anything I have seen in a hotel lounge before.

The Poppet had a good dinner in the lounge, and after her bath time, we got a takeaway from Wagamama’s round the corner. There were plenty of options available, but I would recommend ordering in advance as there was a long wait until ours was ready. After a restful night’s sleep, we were out at 0545 and onto the tube at North Greenwich to get the DLR from Canning Town on our way to London City Airport some 25 minutes later. We got boarding passes and were through security quickly, so we had plenty of time before our 0710 departure.

Whilst it is not an airport hotel, and London City has a Courtyard by Marriott and a Travelodge next to it, I would have no hesitation in recommending the InterContinental O2 to anyone who needs a place to stay before an early flight.

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