Country 2 Country Festival (C2C)

Hotel Review – Why you should be booking The Intercontinental London – O2 during your C2C Festival stay.

“….with my daily schedule, I was able to get to every signing, every performance and every surprise meet and greet that was announced last minute”

“…you never quite know who you may bump into at breakfast. Let’s just say that I may have seen a star or two, or three or maybe even four? Perhaps, more?”

The Intercontinental really should have a sign up in flashing lights that reads

‘If You Were Staying Here, You Would Be In Bed By Now.’

Is C2C your annual holiday? Is it perhaps a birthday treat or just simply one of a few weekends away? Why not make the entire experience something you will always remember, something easy, comfortable and stress free? Treat yourself, it’s worth it!

The Country to Country Festival is becoming one of the biggest events of UK Country music fans’ year. Fans all over the world gather under the 02 dome to celebrate some of the finest music that the Country genre has to offer. When C2C started, it was a two day festival, which then became three if you included the CMA Songwriters’ Show held the evening before the official festival began. However, for the last two years the festival has increased by another day which, including the Songwriters’ Show, makes it a four night event.

I, like many others, do not live in London – in fact it’s about a three and a half hour drive from where I live, as the 02 is quite difficult to get to and always has hordes of traffic. This makes it increasingly difficult to commute back and forth for anyone who isn’t local, especially with the festival having daytime events, starting as early as 10 am. So how do you solve a problem like commuting? Hotels of course!

The best hotel to stay at is a question raised every year for C2C attendees. Where is the nearest hotel? Which is the cheapest? Which is the best value for money? Which hotel is nearest to public transport? I have raised these questions myself. I have also stayed in various locations as well as commuting to and from home during the very first C2C Festival.

“….some of the most comfortable beds I have ever slept on. The pillows are lush and so very soft that when you leap into bed – and yes leap – they are that comfy, you sink into the large pillows and just drift away…..

Last year, 2016, I stayed over the river and, whilst it seemed like a good idea, it was actually quite stressful.

Now it does depend on the individual. You have to ask yourself what do you want to go to the festival for? Sounds daft, right? We all go for music, but my point is, do you want to experience as much of it as you can? Do you want to go to signings, shows, last-minute announcements? I do. Last year was such a struggle in that sense for me. I remember hearing about Maddie and Tae doing a surprise signing and by the time I got on public transport and arrived at the 02, I would have missed it, so I didn’t bother. I was gutted!

This year – problem solved!

Now I know that there are many factors to consider here, such as affordability – or just not wanting to spend more on a conveniently located hotel, when you can stay slightly farther out for a lot less. I had these exact same thoughts. However, I chose to stay at The Intercontinental – London O2 this year, mostly as I wanted to be in certain places at certain times to catch interviews, press conferences and signings – and to see as many of the shows as I could manage. There is no way I could have seen half of what I did, had I stayed elsewhere.

Last year one of the most difficult issues was the after parties. These are the live shows followed by a DJ that start straight after the headliner on the main stage. I found that last year I was just too tired to go as I worked out that, by the time I got back to the hotel, it would be ridiculously late – not to mention the cost of a taxi. This year my friends really struggled with the after parties – they just wanted to be able to crawl into bed. Instead, they dreaded the long drive home after the partying, which otherwise wouldn’t have been so bad.

The Intercontinental – London O2 really should have a sign up in flashing lights that reads

If You Were Staying Here, You Would Be In Bed By Now.’

That would have me sold.

So, budget aside, let’s break down why The Intercontinental is a good proposition.

We’ve mentioned location. That’s a given as it is located right at the 02 and there is a walkway that leads you directly to entrance H of the main arena, which means you will be there or back to your hotel in less than five minutes.

Why else is it good to be staying so close?

You buy things. You know those moments when you have absolutely no intention of buying anything? Then you get soaked up in all the festival goodness and atmosphere and end up buying about five vinyls, ten CDs, a couple of posters and some cowboy boots? When this happens, nothing is more irritating than having to lug them about all day. So ask yourself, do you really want to carry that around? I don’t. What a pain, especially in the main arena where you have little leg room as it is – and not to mention the after parties where you just want to be item-free. Sure, they have cloakrooms at the after parties, but no one really wants to bother with that, especially when it costs a couple of pounds per item – which eventually adds up to an awful lot. I found being able to leave things in my room and go back and get things was a godsend.

Then we have the option of being able to get changed. If you are at the festival all day and plan on going to the after parties, you may want the option to go and change your outfit- or even have a shower.

How about a nap? You may find you have some free time, maybe an hour or so and think, ‘You know what? I have a long night ahead of me. I can squeeze in some sleep’.

Also, FOOD!!!! How many of you are sick of the ridiculous queues at every food outlet? It consumes half your free time and by the time you get a table, order and food arrives, you are lucky to have even five minutes to eat it. Sacrifices have to be made. Live shows or signings have to be missed or food has to be missed. You have to make the call.

In the lobby of The Intercontinental, you will find  Meridian Lounge. Set similar to that of a French Patisserie, this quaint lounge has glorious, mouth watering cakes and macaroons that you simply could not say no to. The macaroons in particular were delicious, delightful and light with flavours that melted in your mouth and a taste you never wanted to replace. The Meridian Lounge also offers Afternoon Tea which is perfect for C2C attendees on a tight schedule who want a satisfying lunch.

The prices aren’t even excessive when you consider the quality of food and the service you will get, not to mention the absence of crowds or queues and, better yet, you can dine in any of the hotel’s dining areas without being a hotel guest.

Menu – subject to change

Market Brasserie

Having breakfast included in your stay is a great idea, as it is a buffet. I was in my element. The selections were out of this world. You had everything you could think of and more. What a great way to fill yourself up if you know you won’t have time for lunch. There was unlimited tea and coffee brought to your table. You could have any kind too – Latte, Cappuccino, anything.

There are also unlimited fruit juices and smoothies. You can have various cereals, yoghurts, cold meats, pastries, cakes, fruit, boiled eggs and pancakes with maple syrup or compote. Then of course a Full English breakfast. Two types of bacon, two types of sausage, hash browns, tomatoes, mushrooms, beans, scrambled egg, fried egg -everything. You can even ask for an omelette.

I haven’t even named half of what was available but I went for pancakes and mango yoghurt one day, Full English the next and so on.

The staff at the breakfast buffet are the friendliest people. They are so welcoming and always ensure you have what you want. They always check if you need more tea or coffee too.

The views are also wonderful. Ask for a window seat and have your breakfast overlooking the river, beautiful. Also….you never quite know who you may bump into at breakfast. Let’s just say that I may have seen a star or two, or three or maybe even four? Perhaps, more?

Market Brasserie also offers a Pre Show Menu in their restaurant. This includes two courses for £28 or three courses for £35.

Menu’s – subject to change

You also have the Clipper Bar which has every alcoholic drink you can think of, including a custom Gin of their very own, and a bar menu – subject to change

Eighteen Sky Bar Menu – subject to change

Right at the top on the 18th floor has wonderful views, especially at night and is a great place to socialise. It also has a selection of light bite snacks. If you are a smoker, there is also a smoking area. The bar has floor to ceiling windows for amazing views – even the bathrooms do which, by the way, are immaculate with luxurious soap gel and moisturiser.

Peninsula Restaurant A La Carte/Tasting Menu – offers another option, slightly more expensive but probably the best quality food in the area.

Menu – subject to change

You also have a wonderful selection of food available on room service 24 hours.

As far as facilities and service are concerned, the hotel has a wide, immaculate and openly lit lobby which is immediately inviting. Staff are quick to welcome you and assist you where needed. We were offered help with our bags as soon as we arrived and every staff member even greeted our 14 month old son.

There are complementary drinks in the lobby – fresh water and juice, which was a wonderful touch, especially if you were waiting in line or simply waiting to meet a friend or colleague.

I felt as if I belonged there – just as important as the next guest and everyone was equal. It was certainly clear that every guest was incredibly important.

The entire hotel was spotless, not a speck of dust or overflowing waste basket in sight. No empty glasses or bottles laying around, no clutter. Every inch of the hotel had wide open spaces ensuring that no one had to squeeze past anyone or anything.

There is a Concierge, newspapers and tourist information in a stacked trio of old style suitcases and welcome seating areas for guests to relax or have a conversation with family or friends.

If you have time or are staying with people not too interested in much of the daytime activities, well then why not visit The Swimming Pool? Open to all guests, the pool is relaxing, stress free and almost always empty apart from one or two people.

You also have The Spa – granted treatments cost, but if you want to, then the option is there.

Finally – the rooms. These are all beautifully furnished, with beds which are some of the most comfortable I have ever slept on. The pillows are lush and so very soft that when you leap into bed – and yes leap – they are that comfy, you sink into the large pillows and just drift away…..

The bathrooms are really luxurious with showers that have different options, one being a large over head power shower.

Each room has a mini bar, at cost of course, and they all have:

Body Wash
Body Lotion
Shower Cap
Vanity Kit
Nail Kit in the bathrooms.
Ironing Board and Iron in the room.

In addition to this, Studio Suites, 1 bedroom Suites, 2 Bedroom Suites and the Penthouse also have:

Dental Kit
Shaving Kit
Mouth Wash
Bath Salts and a comb.

The guests that I saw were all very happy and many came up to me saying such things as:

We stayed at the Holiday Inn last year but booked the Intercontinental to avoid the cold walk back over a main road and because we wanted to be able to pop back in between day time activities and just before the main show”

Yes, it costs more than hotels over the river, but with my daily schedule, I was able to get to every signing, every performance and every surprise meet and greet that was announced last minute”

“I wish that I could take the breakfast room home with me. There is so much choice – I wish I could eat like this every day”

There is also secure parking which is much cheaper than the arena parking fee.

Add up your costs:

Commute costs

Is it really that different in cost when you consider all this – as well as the added factor of convenience?
To sum it up, whether you’re a chilled-out Country Music fan, or one who’s eager to soak up all that C2C has to offer; whether you’re a C2C first-timer or have previously used other hotels in the area; you need to consider: location, food, possibly bumping into C2C stars, friendly hotel staff and the hotel’s superb level of comfort & facilities.

So, is The Intercontinental London -O2 worth it? You’re Dang right it is!

Book now for C2C 2018

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