London’s Best New Hotel Has a “Run Concierge” on Staff. We Spoke to Her.
Erin Summers, from the newly opened Westin London City, says going for a run is the best way to explore the city
The Westin London City is a newly opened business hotel that isn’t really a business hotel. Going into my stay there I was anticipating all the telltale signs — stock artwork, zero vibes, food that belongs in a mess hall, and of course, corporate lackeys in ill-fitting suits fiddling with powerpoint presentations in the business center until the wee hours of the night. This hotel, however, was not that.
It’s the Westin brand’s first location in the UK, and they wanted to make an impression. The property, which sits on the banks of the Thames, was designed by Dexter Moren Associates, who have helmed countless high-end projects including The 1 Hotel Mayfair and the Shangri-La Hotel at the Shard. The hotel spans Upper Thames Street and comes with views of Shakespear’s Globe, St. Paul’s Cathedral and The Tate Modern across the river. The lobby is quite impressive with a living wall, towering four-story foyer with floating sculptures and doors that lead directly out to the Thames and a riverwalk.
The incorporation of nature and movement is meant to fit into the wellness focus offered by the Westin brand. This idea of wellness and the brand messaging around it can come off as corporate and gimmicky when not executed well. This hotel however, does a good job of balancing those offerings while still being a real life hotel that normal people, and not just yoga influencers, would want to stay in.
The gym features multiple Pelotons, TRX systems and an abundance of machines free weights, but the most impressive part is the Hypervolt station where you can blast your muscles with their recovery guns. There’s tutorial videos and interactive screen to guide you through the process on your road to muscle recovery. The hotel also houses a spa with a full range of treatments and, most impressively, a pool, which is a rarity in London.
The part of the experience I found to be the most unique of the stay is the fact that the hotel has a “Run Concierge” who takes willing participants out on runs (or walks) most mornings. Given The Westin London City’s location along the Thames, those runs typically include some iconic views and bridges. They have a handful of predetermined routes ranging from 3km to 10km but bespoke routes can also be arranged depending on how many other runners are around that day. Sometimes the GM will even hit the pavement with guests.
Erin Summers, the Run Concierge, is in a unique position; having experienced much of London on foot while also having the duty of figuring out how to help people get exercise while on vacation. She also happens to be the somm at the hotel’s impressive wine bar, Hithe + Seek. So while not running or drinking wine with her, I sat down to ask her a few questions on where she recommends running and walking in the capital of the UK.
What is your advice for people who are bad at running or working out while on vacation?
My advice would be to combine running and sightseeing for those that aren’t keen runners, especially in London where you can see a lot of landmarks in a small area. For instance, our 10K route takes runners all the way to Parliament and Big Ben, the London Eye, South Bank, Borough Market, Tower Bridge, Tower of London and St. Paul’s Cathedral. Planning a route that goes around the various landmarks a traveler wants to explore can be great motivation.
What makes London a great city for running?
There are a lot of different reasons behind why London is a great city to run in. As I mentioned you can see a lot of landmarks and must-see sights in a small area. You can also explore different areas and run in very different environments.
What are some of those different environments?
For example, East London is very urban, West London is leafy green and Central London is vibrant and bustling. You can find a lot of routes which are pedestrianized such as Thames pathway, alongside Regent’s Canal, and large parks such as Hyde Park, Battersea Park and Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.
Any particularly good and unique stores in London for buying running gear?
The Running Works is located in the city and is close to The Westin London City and proudly lists itself as London’s largest independent running shop. They have pretty much everything you could ask for.
What are a few other running routes/neighborhoods around the city and why are they great to run?
Other great areas to run would be Hyde Park or along Regent’s Canal going from Victoria Park to Little Venice via Camden Locks. Regent’s Park and its neighborhood are other great places to run with a view of the city on top of Primrose Hill.
Could you suggest some non-touristy areas worth exploring?
Some of my favorite non-touristy areas to explore in London are Islington and Angel, where you can find charming antique markets, theaters and indie boutiques; Hampstead, which offers idyllic settings including Victorian architecture, just a few miles away from Central London; and Victoria Park, which is London’s third-largest park. Bordered by Regent’s Canal, Victoria Park has its own Sunday food market, hosts festivals during summertime, a lake with a Chinese Pagoda and more.”
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