So I came to realize that I had never flown from London City Airport before. 8 years living in London, a notorious number of flights embarked upon, and yet I had never flown from the airport closest to home. Until a few weeks ago when Cityjet kindly held a sale and the boy generously booked us airline tickets for a spontaneous weekend away in Luxembourg.
As he had picked the destination I got to choose the hotel. It turns out we both had picked rather well.
Flying to Luxembourg from London City Airport was like experiencing travel from a bygone era. The airport, geared towards business travellers, is cheaply and easily accessible from central London and when we visited on a Saturday morning it was also blissfully quiet. We sailed through security into the departure lounge where we found wide leather seats and free Wi-Fi.
Our Cityjet plane looked rather like a toy. A tiny, two propeller aircraft, I was uncertain about getting on it but felt content once settled in the plush leather seats inside. Despite the flight being only 1hr20 long, the courteous and attentive staff were there to serve free dinks (both hot and alcoholic) as well as sandwiches and snacks – as much of them as you want. Then just when you think the service is over they come through with a basket of French chocolates, yes free French pralines. This is what makes flying fun.
Just a 10-minute taxi ride from Luxembourg airport later and we find ourselves in a location where modern literally meets Medieval. The Sofitel Luxembourg Le Grand Ducal hotel is perched on the edge of a valley containing the ochre-coloured Old Town of Luxembourg City. To make the most of the enviable location, the hotel’s forward facing bedrooms, restaurant and bar have all been designed to capitalize on this striking view. In our minimalist room with flashes of bright pink, from the bathroom to the bed the eye is drawn to the picture perfect town that is framed below. I couldn’t wait to explore it. So, bags are dropped, a map is grabbed and we head outside to get a closer look.
Wandering down the weaving, cobbled lanes to get up close to the picture perfect Old Town houses I couldn’t help but feel like a fairy-tale princess on excursion from her castle. As it was the weekend the whole city was peacefully quiet, the few tourists or locals in town seemed to be holed up in warm cafes.
The café I wanted to be holed up in FOREVER was Nathalie Bonn’s Chocolate House. Yes, just as the mouth-watering name suggests, this is a café/shop dedicated to the joy that is chocolate. Cakes, bars, and lollies fill the ancient building but the stand out piece of their collection is the molten hot chocolate. (You can read a full drool worthy review on travellingshopaholic.com)
For the newer part of town, lined with designer boutiques and French style Brasseries, we decided it would be easier to get around on 2 wheels. Luxembourg has a bicycle hire scheme (the Veloh), it’s just like the Parisian Velo scheme, but with an ‘h’ on the end! A 7 day bike access voucher can be purchased for €1 Euro from the machines near the bike racks, and then the first 30 minutes of bike access is free. All bikes comes with locks so you can safely park them as you stop for coffee, but make sure you do lock them securely for a €150 security is charged against the bike in case of no return.
That evening we looked online for a restaurant recommendation and found several gushing reviews of our very own hotel’s Top Floor Restaurant on Foursquare. Not wanting to miss a chance to experience this for ourselves we had Concierge make a reservation for the restaurant, which was, as you would imagine, on the top floor of the hotel. It did not disappoint. The view coupled with the service and one very magnificent steak certainly left me impressed.
It was, however, the breakfast service found in the same place that really made us smile. By morning light the Old Town could be seen in all its glory, with the pastry basket and chocolate covered waffles providing a very pleasant distraction.
In the room, complimentary facilities like the Nespresso machine and free soft drinks in the mini bar meant we were perfectly content when the local cafes remained closed on Sunday. Hotels also score bonus points for me when they remember to install full-length mirrors in suitable places; the Sofitel Luxembourg Le Grand Ducal gets full marks here.
Our weekend in Luxembourg was a very short 48 Hour Adventure, but one that was filled with luxury experiences, fairy-tale views and some really good chocolate. Luxembourg was exactly the London escape I needed, and it was incredibly easy to discover it.
Disclaimer: My stay was sponsored by the Sofitel Luxembourg Le Grand Ducal – but only because I asked them really, really nicely.