I usually have a buffet Indian lunch at the Poppadom Express when I’m in London, often before heading for a mid-afternoon train back to Berwick upon Tweed from Kings Cross Station. However on my most recent trip my train was departing at 2pm, so I decided to look for a restaurant closer to Kings Cross Station.
The Kitchin international buffet in Caledonia St, literally around the corner from Kings Cross, fitted the bill. The lunch buffet was served between 12 -3pm and cost £7.95.
The restaurant is quite trendy inside with reasonably spaced seating. The buffet is arranged around a central island kitchen which allows good access even with the restaurant is busy.
I liked the fact that there were several vegetable dishes; the broccoli in the Stir Fry was perfectly cooked.
You can select your own ingredients for a freshly cooked wok meal. I plumped for prawns and through that they were quite generous with them.
The desserts were very good. The Fruit Salad had pineapple and honeydew melon. There was a whippy ice cream machine.
All the staff were pleasant.
I’d recommend Kitchin, especially to have a tasty meal before boarding a train at Kings Cross for a long journey. Particularly so when you compare the buffet lunch at the Kitchin with what food you could buy on a train for £8.
If you have the time, check if there’s a free exhibition to visit at the nearby Kings Place.
On the day I checked out of the Holiday Inn Express London Royal Park I decided to take the Tube west to Ealing Broadway to visit Walpole Park. I thought it’d be a good idea to find somewhere for lunch after a walk around the park.
The Hungry Yeti buffet restaurant in New Broadway, opposite Ealing Town Hall, received good reviews and at £6.95 for a weekday lunch sounded good value for money and was only a five minute walk from Walpole Park.
It wasn’t too busy when I arrived at the Hungry Yeti around 12.30pm. I was able to select my own table.
There was a fair selection of starters. My starters were a bit cold, I assume they’d been sitting out since opening time at noon.
The salad items were very fresh.
My favourite dishes were the Aubergine Curry, although it was a bit oily, and the Vegetable Stir Fry.
There wasn’t much choice for dessert, the fruit salad was mainly apple and the ice cream wasn’t great.
For £6.95 I was happy with my lunch. I wouldn’t rave about the food, but if you’re in the area it offers a well priced, tasty meal. It’s probably better to eat there during busier periods so that the food is hotter,
I did a search for a buffet restaurant close to the Wellcome Collection in London, as I planned to visit the ‘Institute of Sexology’ exhibition there. The Diwana Vegetarian Indian Restuarant in Drummond Street, close to Euston Station, received very good reviews. Although I’m not a vegetarian, I was attracted to the lunch buffet at the price of £6.95.
I was impressed by the extremely attractive buffet selection as I waited to be shown to a table.
I was offered a table on the first floor. Not ideal when you’re as accident prone as me, but I managed not to spill any food on my trips up and down the stairs.
I thought that the food was fantastic. I wasn’t sure what everything was, but it was all very tasty.
When I asked for my bill there was a notice on the small silver plate saying that service was not included. I checked that I could pay by card. When the waiter brought the card reader machine, he asked if I wanted to add a tip. I’ve never had this experience at a buffet before, although many London restaurants automatically add a supposedly discretionary service tip to your bill. I do usually leave a tip, but In some ways I wish that the Diwana would just increase the price of the lunch buffet to include a service charge, which would save them asking customers for a tip.
The buffet is only available at the Diwana Vegetarian Indian Restaurant during lunch time, from noon to 3pm. I’d recommend that you eat then, so that you can try a wide selection of wonderful dishes,
When I was staying at the Holiday Inn Express London Park Royal, I planned a trip to Ealing Broadway, which is a few stops west from North Action (adjacent to the hotel) on the Central Line. I wanted to have a walk around Walpole Park.
I’d read about Pitzhanger Manor House in the park, which was designed by the architect Sir John Soane. I’d visited the Sir John Soane’s Museum, located in the town house which he built for himself, in Lincoln’s Inn Fields on another visit to London, so I was curious as to Soane’s country house.
Approaching Pitzhanger Mamor House
Pitzhanger Manor House is now an art gallery owned by Ealing Council. Unfortunately, it’s undergoing renovation and won’t be open until Spring 2015. I didn’t spot much evidence of renovation on the exterior or interior.
Rear of Pitzhanger Manor House
Walpole Park was formerly part of the estate belonging to Pitzhanger Manor House. The grounds became a municipal park in 1901.
Walpole Park information board
Soane’s Rustic Bridge on the Serpentine Lake
Decorated tree in Walpole Park
Fountain in the pond at Walpole Park
The Rickyard, named after the areas previous used for stacking (ricking) hay, houses a community centre, a cafe and free, clean public toilets. The ‘Drop’ sculpture by Paul Cocksedge sits at the front of the Rickyard.
‘Drop’ scupture outside the Rickyard in Walpole Park
I knew from looking at the map and talking with our son who had previously stayed at the Holiday Inn Express London Park Royal that there wasn’t much to do in the immediate vicinity of the hotel. When I did a search for restaurants within walking distance of the hotel, the Ahaleena Mediterranean Buffet appeared. I liked the sound of the food and reckoned it would take me around 20 minutes to walk there.
I was a bit surprised as I turned into Standard Road, where the restaurant is located, as it led into an industrial estate. I confirmed the street name and number of the restaurant’s address on my piece of paper. Sure enough as I walked down the street, I spotted the Ahaleena, which adjoined the Flames Food unit.
Entrance to the Ahaleena Buffet
The interior style was simple,. It was very quiet inside with only two other customers. I assume it’s busier during the week with customers who work in the industrial estate. There were some freezers selling ready made food by the entrance.
I didn’t see any prices displayed., I’d read online that the price was £7.95, but that must have been an old review, as it was £9.50 without a drink, or £10.50 with a drink. The selection when I was there consisted of orange squash, drinking yoghurt and tea. The price is the same every day.
Interior of the Ahaleena Buffet
As soon as I looked at the food, I knew that I was onto a winner and it was worth £9.50, My favourite starters were the Tzatziki (a yoghurt and shredded cucumber dip) and Lamb Parcels.
Starters at the Ahaleena Buffet
I loved the Meatballs Wrapped in Aubergine.
Main course at the Ahaleena Buffet
I only saw one member of staff, who was very welcoming, saying “eat as much as you like, we want you to feel as though you are at home”. I asked him if the food was from any particular country and he said it was a mixture. However, when he told me that he was Lebanese, I remembered a similarly tasty Lebanese meal I’d eaten in Cyprus.
Buffet selection at the Ahaleena Buffet
The sweet filled pastry desserts were delicious.
I really enjoyed my meal at the Alaheena Buffet and recommend that you visit if you’re in the Park Royal or North Action area,
I’d advise you to phone (020 8838 0444) to check opening hours and prices before visiting. The restaurant doesn’t have it’s own website and the opening times and prices given on various other sites vary.
I’ve always been a bit confused about the location of the boundaries of the London borough of Islington. I didn’t realise that its southern border reaches down to the City of London.
Information board at the entrance to Islington Museum
I found the entertainment section interesting. Music halls were popular in Islington. Collin’s Music Hall opened in Islington Green in 1863.
Marie Lloyd – “Queen of the Music Hall”
Islington was quick to embrace the cinema craze. The first film show in England took place at the Agricultrual Hall in Upper Street. In1914 the borough had around 30 cinemas. In 1930 the 3,000 seater Astoria Cinema opened. It’s interior was designed to look like a Mediterranean village. It later became the Rainbow Theatre, but is currently a Universal Church of the Kingdom of God.
At the radicals section, there was information on rights for women. I hadn’t realised that Mary Wollstonecraft, the 18th century advocate of women’s liberation and education, died aged 38 after giving birth to her second daugher Mary Shelly, the author of Frankenstein.
Mary Wollstonecraft information board
More than 1,000 suffragettes were imprisoned in Holloway Prison during the fight for women’s right to vote in the early 20th century. I knew about the authorities force-feeding prisoners who went on hunger strike, but during further research I was horrified to read that force-feeding was also done through the vagina and rectum. There’s no way that would’ve provided any nourishment, it was sexual abuse and torture.
It’s free to get into Islington Museum. The museum is open from 10am – 5pm, but closed on Wednesdays and Sundays.
I spotted Wesley’s Chapel and the Museum of Methodism in City Road as I was walking between the Geffyre Museum and the Barbican Centre. It was a coincedence, as I’d read about John Wesley, one of the founders of the Methodist movement, when I was in Islington Museum the previous day.
Sculpture of John Wesley at the entrance to Wesley’s Chapel
Wesley’s Chapel opened in 1778, to replace the original Foundery Chapel.
The Museum of Methodism is located in the crypt beneath the Chapel. There’s a short video giving a good summary of the life of Wesley.
Entrance to the Museum of Methodism
Collection boxes at the Museum of Methodism
Ceremonial trowels at the Museum of Methodism
The Wesley tradition of outdoor preaching lives on
The Garden, where you’ll find Wesley’s tomb, is accessed through the rear of the museum. The rear of the Chapel is reflected onto the glass windows of the adjacent modern office block.
Garden at Wesley’s Chapel
You can also visit John Wesley’s House on a guided tour, but I didn’t have enough time to do this.
Wesley’s Chapel and House and the Museum of Methodism are open Monday to Saturday 10am – 4pm, but closed on Thursdays between 12.45 & 1.30p for a service. Admission is free, with donations welcomed.
My confirmation from Booking.com stated that I was in a classic double room and the price paid was £119 on a room only basis.
Staying at the St James Court Hotel was going to be a trip down Memory Lane for me, as I had a live-in Summer job at the hotel in 1976 when I was a student.
If my hotel booking is done by a third party, I always phone the hotel in advance to check that they have a record of the booking. During the call, I was asked if I required an early check-in. I replied that, all going smoothly, I should arrive at the hotel around 1.30pm, so I was told that every effort would be made to have my room ready by 1pm.
Entrance to the St James Court Hotel London
It took me around 10 minutes to walk to the hotel from Victoria Tube Station. St James Park Tube Station is much closer, but the quickest, direct route by Tube from Kings Cross was to Victoria on the Victoria Line.
It only takes five minutes to walk from the hotel to Buckingham Palace.
Upon entering, I could see that the hotel had been seriously upgraded since I worked there, when It was more of a tourist class hotel with some rooms having shared bathrooms.
At check-in I was upgraded to an executive king room. It was a beautiful room with a bay window overlooking the courtyard.
View from my room at the St James Court Hotel
I loved the clock opposite my room.
St James Court Hotel clock
The room was spacious, beautifully decorated and furnished and maintained to a very high standard. The free WiFi was reasonable; you had to pay for a faster connection.
Executive king room at the St James Court Hotel London
The downside to having such a great room, is it puts you off going out, as you want to enjoy the luxury. However, I had to leave by 3.30pm to walk to the event in Kensington.
As I arrived back at the hotel late that evening, I asked if I could check out at 1pm, instead of noon, the following morning. My request was granted.
It was so quiet overnight that I could hardly believe that I was in a hotel in central London. The king size bed was super comfy.
Executive king room at the St James Court Hotel London
Breakfast wasn’t included in my booking. I thought that it’d be lovely to have a drink or a meal in the courtyard during warmer weather,
The courtyard at the St James Court Hotel
There were three elephant sculptures in the courtyard.
‘Clearing’ elephant sculpture in the courtyard of the St James Court Hotel
It appears that room upgrades are carried out as standard if availability exists. The other personal finance blogger staying at the hotel had also been upgraded and an attendee at the event from the credit report company had been upgraded on a few occasions when staying at the St James Court.
I really enjoyed my stay at the St James Court Hotel. If I’d paid £119 for the night and been upgraded to an executive king room, I’d have throught it was excellent value for money for the quality of the room.
The British Library is a great place to visit. It’s located close to King’s Cross railway station.
The cloakroom and lockers are free (but you need a £1 coin as a deposit for the lockers). It states at the entrance that you can store a suitcase the size of airline carry on luggage. However I couldn’t find a large enough locker, but I was able to leave my case at the cloakroom. There are drinking water fountains outside the toilets.
There’s usually a free temporary exhibition. The topic was polar exploration during my most recent visit.
‘Paradoxymoron’ by John Hughes on the lower ground floor
I had a look around the free ‘Treasures of the British Museum’ gallery. For me, the most interesting items were in the novelists section with texts from Charles Dicken’s ‘Nicholas Nickelby’ and Charlotte Bronte’s ‘Jane Eyre’.
Penny Black stamp printing press at the British Museum
I was never quite sure where Little Venice was. When I stayed at the Colonnade Town House, it was only a five minute walk to Little Venice. The nearest Underground Station is Warwick Ave, a three minute clearly signed walk from Little Venice. Paddington station is also close by.
The map of Little Venice was informative, but it did make me wonder why the area had been given this name, it’s merely a triangular pool at the junction of Regent’s Canal with the Paddington Basin on the Grand Union Canal, with a bridge at each corner of the triangle.
The railings and the Borough of Paddington coat of arms on the bridges looked recently painted.
It is a beautiful location, with the white mansions of Blomfield Road along the north-western perimeter.
There’s a boarding point for the London Waterbus, which runs a service between Little Venice to Camden Lock via London Zoo in Regent’s Park.
Some of the barges are decorated with colourful paintings.
You can find public toilets in Rembrandt Gardens on the north eastern perimeter of Little Venice.