The magic of a folding bicycle
When I go to a city or town for the first time my priority is always to explore immediately. I like to get my bearings.
The options are plentiful. Walking, driving, mopeds, taxis, buses, trams, trains… you get the drift.
I’ve tried them all but none have come close to my favourite of all the methods of transport – the humble bicycle.
Or not so humble bicycle in the case of my latest two wheel exploration. As I approached the SLH branded Brompton at No 11 Cadogan Gardens it was clear this was no Penny Farthing.
There it was sat in the Wimbledon-themed terrace (Pimms on the table, tennis on the television, Astroturf on the floor) looking like a Transformer in sleep mode.
I’ll be totally honest here and say the Transformers films have always scared me a little bit. And if I continue to be totally honest the Brompton scared me a little bit too.
The folding bike daunted me for two reasons. Firstly it looks a little complicated and to give you an idea of my mechanical abilities I struggle with my niece’s Lego kits (she’s 6).
Secondly, I knew that if by some miracle I managed to fold this beautiful little contraption into something resembling a bike I was then going to have to sit on it and pray I’d done everything right. Which wouldn’t make for a particularly relaxing ride.
Like every great concierge, Richie at No 11 Cadogan Gardens read my mind, spotted my hesitation and promptly constructed the bike for me. It took him about 30 seconds.
I managed to get my own helmet on and then set off around one of the most beautiful parts of London. The Kings Road, Fulham Road, Chelsea, Embankment, Sloane Square came and went in a jiffy. Feeling very snazzy indeed on this limited edition bike (you can only get them at this hotel and one other SLH hotel The Dylan in Amsterdam) I couldn’t stop. Soon I had circled Parliament Square, crossed Westminster Bridge and whizzed past the London Eye on the South Bank. Then Waterloo Bridge over to the Strand and Trafalgar Square, a quick stop at Buckingham Palace to watch a few tourists, and then back to No 11 again. All this in 45 minutes and I’m no Bradley Wiggins.
Hotels like No 11 Cadogan Gardens that are small and located in the best parts of town are a dream for people like me. I live in London but never really treat it like a tourist. It was a wonderful treat to be able to. And even better for those who are genuine tourists (and probably better able to fold the bike up themselves) this Brompton becomes hand luggage in seconds meaning any time you want to stop, pop into a café or museum and have a look… in you go.
In short it’s genius. Bravo SLH, bravo No 11 Cadogan Gardens and bravo Brompton.