THE pace is frenetic, the excitement of our fair capital city palpable, and at the end of the day the peace and serenity of The Holiday Inn at Mayfair is the perfect antedote.

Located in the very heart of London you are immediately caught up in the atmosphere of this amazing city as it journeys through an historic year.

We exited the Tube at Piccadilly to enjoy the short walk down to The Holiday Inn, although alighting at Green Park would deliver you almost to the very doors of the impressive lobby if you so wished.

Situated opposite The Ritz and Green Park itself you feel as though you have stepped into the world of privilege.

The Holiday Inn is also moving with the times to complement this. Style and design play a huge part in your initial impression and the engaging staff have been well briefed on providing the best possible service.

From the modern hotel lobby your eye is automatically drawn through the impressive double doors to the muted lighting of Nightingales restaurant and its grand chandelier.

The sounds of lively conversation and laughter from within immediately reinforce the relaxed and welcoming atmosphere.

A swift and efficient check-in soon had us ascending to our room on the fifth floor to enjoy incredible views across Piccadilly and down to the throng of Friday evening commuters below.

The room was spacious and excellently equipped for those who wished to simply kick back and rest a while, but we opted to head out and join the evening throng and view some of the sights nearby.

The sheer number of possibilities for a drink or meal is overwhelming but we wandered behind the hotel into an area between Piccadilly and Park Lane to enjoy a stroll through Shepherd’s Market.

Here restaurants serve every conceivable style of dish, the pubs provide an electric atmosphere and the cafés sell everything from a hearty meal to coffee. Theatreland is also close by for those wishing to enjoy an evening of music and drama.

We chose to stay close to home and ate at the highly recommended Nightingales beginning with a cool and refreshing glass of Pinot Grigio.

This was the perfect companion for my Greek Mezze starter served with the sweetest peppers I have ever tasted as well as a light creamy hummus and olives. My husband’s haddock fishcake choice was equally excellent.

He was then served the Thai red prawn curry which was the perfect size, creamy and succulent.

My choice of the chicken balchou was slightly spicier than the ‘mild’ description led me to believe, but was also a super choice.

Too satisfied for a dessert we then headed into the lounge for coffee before retiring to fully recharge our batteries.

Holiday Inn is promoting its comfortable beds and choice of pillows as a selling point and I have to agree there is nothing quite like flopping down on crisp white linens and drifting off into the land of nod.

Morning brought another visit to Nightingales for its award-winning breakfast with a huge array of choice for cooked breakfast lovers including some incredibly fluffy scrambled eggs.

Refreshed and refuelled we were ready to take in the sights.

With Buckingham Palace only a few minutes walk away as well as Trafalgar Square, London Zoo and Oxford Street the variety for families, shoppers and sightseers make The Holiday Inn the perfect starting point as well as a great way to end an exhausting expedition.

You can leave the young ones at home and indulge in a little luxury or treat them to a touch of the highlife with them staying and eating for free from Nightingales Grow Healthy Club menu.

Room prices at The Holiday Inn in London’s Mayfair start at just over £200 and Nightingales is excellent value.

Getting to London is simple with trains from Southampton for £30 or the cheaper alternative of taking a National Express coach from £5.

With both the Queen’s Jubilee and the Olympics taking place this summer there is a buzz about the capital which makes a visit there in 2012 even more exciting.