I’d always wanted to be a spy when I was little and I would spend summers crafting code wheels and solving pretty unmysterious mysteries.
So when I heard I could stay at a former MI6 headquarters in the heart of London, I jumped at the chance.
The Royal Horseguards Hotel – located right next to the Embankment tube stop – is set within a grand government-style building on the banks of the River Thames.
On walking into the place you’re certainly made to feel like a special agent with a doorman in a top hat greeting you and a giant glistening chandelier hanging in the lobby.
It was a Tuesday afternoon, around 3pm, and the room wasn’t ready. So I left my bag with the receptionist and went to explore the wealth of things to do on the doorstep.
The 283-room hotel is ideally situated for hitting some of the capital’s top tourist haunts.
En route to Trafalgar Square we went to see the horse-mounted guards in the barracks up the road. We then paid a visit to the National Gallery before grabbing a sizable sherry at London’s oldest wine bar, Gordon’s.
Once we were back to the hotel, we checked into room 720.
The Royal Horseguards has the feel of a business-type hotel with rooms decked out with the standard blood red, cream and light wood finishings.
But the bed in our room was one of the biggest I’d seen for a while – enough mattress space to fit a family of five!
On the mini bar front, there was a complimentary assortment of goods in the fridge including soda, wine, beer, crisps and a flapjack.
Moving to the bathroom, it had a distinctly nineties Bond feel with a television placed above the tub.
After lathering up with some Elemis bath products, we took the wooden / mirror-clad elevator downstairs for dinner.
The Royal Horseguards’ restaurant One Twenty One Two, is named after its former neighbour, Scotland Yard, which had the universally-famous telephone number, Whitehall 1212.
It was a warm evening and there were people out on the terrace but we stayed inside to sample the a la carte menu.
There was an odd smattering of diners in the room. It was difficult to pin down the clientele. Two people looked as though they were having a business meeting, while another pair looked distinctly like tourists. Another man ate alone with his iPad as company.
The restaurant has a conservative hotel-style menu, with nothing too snazzy to throw you off guard.
We shot for a buffalo mozzarella and tomato salad to start. To follow, a fillet steak and some grilled calves liver – the most outlandish dish I could spot.
Before we tucked in, I had to order an obligatory martini in true spy-style.
The cocktail glass was large, the olives mediocre, but like the place itself, it had a certain dose of charm.
The mozzarella salad was very good, with a nice balance of flavour and generous mounds of creamy cheese drizzled with a basil jus.
The mains were equally big. There were several slabs of liver on my plate, which were actually divine, but difficult to polish off. The broccoli, which I ordered as a side, was cooked to perfection and the purple heritage carrots twinkled under a sheen of glaze.
My dining partner Nick found his steak a little on the tough side but he managed to make quick work of it nonetheless.
Service during dinner was with a smile and it all ran smoothly despite some brief moments of miscommunication. Our waiter was from Uzbekistan and super keen at the job. That’s one thing I must say, all of the team at the Royal Horseguards are friendly and more than willing to help.
Before we headed up to bed we ordered breakfast to our room at reception.
The next morning, with a 6am start, a tray of goods arrived as promised to the door.
The coffee was punchy with the creaminess of the eggs alleviating its heart-pounding strength.
But I wasn’t too bothered about the morning spread. I was more concerned with the sunrise views.
The Royal Horseguards Hotel boasts unbeatable views of the London Eye and the Shard.
A light wind was blowing through the window, the sun was shining.
Playing at being a Bond girl for a night had been a pleasure.
The Royal Horseguards
2 Whitehall Court London SW1A 2EJ
To book a room or to make a restaurant reservation visit www.guoman.com or call +44 800 330 8090. Rooms start from £182.