Monday, 15 August 2011

Budget v Boutique Hotels in London

Last weekend (yes, in the middle of all the riots) saw us heading for London for a couple of days.

I do have to add that we were luckily not involved in any of the riots and a great time was had by all, but during our visit we stayed in two completely different hotels that have inspired another blog post.

The first evening we were paying for accomodation, hence our stay in a budget hotel very close to Euston Station! We spent the night at the Travel Lodge in Grafton Place.

The first thing to say about this hotel is that it really is in a fantastic position for anyone travelling into Euston station. It is approximately 100 metres across the road.

We arrived in an unbelievable rainstorm. Sadly none of us could run at Usain Bolt type speeds for 100 metres so we arrived in reception in an extremely bedraggled state!

Reception is clean and was staffed with a pleasant, helpful receptionist who provided all necessary information about our room, wi-fi options and availability of the restaurant / bar area.

I had booked this hotel room approximately a month ago and it cost a grand total of £35.75! For a night in a double room in London I thought this was an excellent rate. The room was as expected for a very budget price. It was clean but had none of the extra's often found in other hotel chains that push the prices up.

My only complaints about this room related to the maintenance of it. There were small niggles such as the batteries in the TV remote being dead resulting in much hilarity as we climbed on the bed each time we wanted to change channel or turn down the volume!

The biggest irritation was that the window catch was broken. There was no risk to security as we were a few floors off the ground and the window was screened outside which would prevent anyone gaining access to the room. Unfortunately though, this was the first night of the riots in London. The inability to close and lock the window meant we heard every siren throughout the night, plus we were treated to lots of Manchester United and Manchester City fans enjoying themselves in the pub below!

We were not particularly disappointed to move on the following day to our second hotel of the weekend.

This time we were not paying, and the hotel was much more upmarket! We stayed at the fabulous Mont Calm Hotel at the top of Park Lane and Marble Arch. From budget to boutique in one easy step.

What a difference a day (or should that be night) makes. This time we were so cocooned in our room that we couldn't have heard a pin drop in the hall outside, let alone any riot vans heading into action!

This hotel had a truly impressive reception. Once again, lovely staff but this time in addition to the usual (where to eat, what facilities were available, etc) they also delivered our bags to the room. I came away from this hotel with chandelier envy because their lighting in reception was amazing...but possibly might overshadow my entrance hall at home!

This time the room had all the luxuries expected of a hotel costing anything from £155 per night upwards. There were wonderful toiletries in the bathroom and there were so many pillows we could have built a bed just from these and forgotten about the mattress.

Of course the room also came equipped with robes, slippers, hair dryer, free wifi, chocolates delivered at 'turn down,' etc.

So you might think there is no contest when deciding which hotel was 'best'. But actually, just like the budget hotel there were things that could be criticised with this one.

The bathroom was beautiful, all black and silver tiles, but it was so dark it was almost impossible to see anything!

The bedroom was gorgeous, with plush curtains and bedcovers, but there wasn't a single full length mirror anywhere in the room.

Obviously residents at this hotel don't worry about going out in the evening, They have no need to primp in the bathroom or check their clothing before leaving the room. They probably just stay put and lounge around in slippers and robes enjoying their free wifi and a TV with a remote control that works :-)

So in the battle of budget v boutique who wins? Well for me, neither. I really enjoyed our whole weekend in London and both hotels added to the experience.

I couldn't have afforded to stay at the Mont Calm if I had been paying, but the luxury was amazing and if you have the ability to stay in places like this then this hotel is completely brilliant and I thoroughly recommend it.

On the other hand, if (like me) you're a bit with what you are prepared to spend on a hotel room, then the Travel Lodge was fine too. I knew there would be no luxuries and was prepared with my own toiletries and hair dryer.

I guess the thing is, there is room for both types of hotels and clearly there are guests who choose to stay in both budget and boutique. I wouldn't say no to another night in either of them - but preferably without the riots going on outside!

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