There are several suggested routes, from architecture to shopping, romantic nighttime jaunts to East London discoveries, all plotted on a small fold-out map, and you are free to pick and choose as you like
by Emily Rookwood
I must admit straightaway that I am a fair-weather cyclist. Having grown up in the depths of the West Country where you can cycle through rolling fields bathed in golden sunlight with nothing but a tractor trundling by, city cycling is somewhat daunting. No Boris Bike has ever been removed from its sturdy little stand by these hands.
But with the Sanderson and St Martin’s Lane hotels launching six new themed cycle routes – from art to royalty – I agreed to test out one of their Dutch-inspired bicycles in central London.
After a brief and very jovial meeting with the Bell Team at the front desk, the bike appeared with the saddle helpfully lowered to the correct height. With helmet firmly strapped on I set off and after a somewhat less than graceful first minute things improved remarkably.
Trundling through the back streets I initially went a little off-piste and ventured to Regent's Park before returning to the map to follow much of the Royal Tour. There are several suggested routes, from architecture to shopping, romantic nighttime jaunts to East London discoveries, all plotted on a small fold-out map, and you are free to pick and choose as you like.
It was really rather lovely – not to mention liberating and remarkably not that scary after all. That said, I did chicken out of cycling along some of the bigger roads, going instead with the good old fashioned pushing-your-bike-along-the-pavement option.
The hotels provide not only the bikes but also helmets, high-vis vests and bike locks so you only need to bring sensible shoes and a little courage. With this set-up you don’t have to worry about finding a suitable docking station, staying out too long or bringing your own equipment.
You have luxury of freedom and a pleasant alternative to the stifling heat of the Underground network. During the Olympics when Boris Bikes will be in high demand, those lucky enough to have rooms at the Sanderson won’t have to worry about the transport chaos. They can simply cycle around it.
I had decided to make my city cycling debut in the morning, giving myself the opportunity to enjoy a lovely relaxing stay at the hotel the night before. Ensconced in a Double Double room surrounded by modern Phillip Stark designs, fresh linen and an excess of sleeping space it was an excellent environment in which to luxuriate.
Big, airy bathrooms, fluffy dressing gowns and Malin+Goetz products all come as standard and if in-room pampering isn’t sufficient, you can make use of the Agua Spa on the first floor or treat yourself in one of the bars downstairs. The joy of riding in the lift is reason enough to try out some of the hotels amenities.
After a restorative sleep it is worth taking advantage of the expansive breakfast buffet – beautifully glazed pastries, fresh fruit, granola, seeds and nuts, bread and continental charcuterie. The cooked menu is also super: the eggs Benedict was delicious with its creamy yet tangy hollandaise. It was also very fortifying, which I’m told is important when you are about to embark on a bicycle ride.
The Sanderson are offering Spear’s readers two exclusive offers
Book at least 14 days in advance and receive up to 30 per cent off. The offer is fully pre-paid and non-refundable. Valid 13 August-16 September 2012.
For room reservations either online or on the phone (020 7300 1400), quote the promo code SPSPEA.
Agua can also offer a back, neck & shoulder massage for £40 (normally £55). For Agua bookings, call 020 7300 1414 and quote ‘Spear’s’.
Read more by Emily Rookwood