This week I had a brief work trip and an opportunity to stay in a hotel in central London for a night. As I did on last year’s equivalent trip, I’d like to share my hotel experience.
The Bedford Hotel, just south of Russell Square in the Bloomsbury area of London, is within walking distance of…a lot of stuff. To list things we actually walked past in 24 hours: King’s Cross/St Pancras and Euston railway stations, University College London, the British Library, and the British Museum.
The building façade was drab and cracked, but the actual entrance was new and the sign clean and shiny. When you’re travelling on a budget, it’s what’s inside the building that counts, not how it looks from the street, so I kept my mind open. The lobby was similarly difficult to assess: the desk and furniture were new, and there was a very clean-looking dining area through a glass wall to the left, but the clock built into the wall behind the desk was missing its hands.
The young lady who checked us in seemed very nice and professional. The keys were normal metal ones attached to long aluminum rods so that you can’t accidentally walk out with them. Everywhere there was evidence that a strong effort has been made to bring a very tired building up to date in the ways that matter most, without spending unnecessarily much money. The lighting, carpets, wallpaper, and fire alarm systems looked new, for example, but the wooden furniture, including headboard with integrated (and presumably, defunct) entertainment system (see also speakers in the wood panel covering the curtain rods), were very dated.
Yes, I should have taken photos before messing up the bed and the desk. There was the ubiquitous Corby trouser press, a hair dryer, and a mini-kettle with teabags provided. There was also a door communicating with the next room, with a small bolt (presumably on both sides) to keep it shut. This would have concerned me a little, but the next-door occupant was a co-worker.
The bed was very small, and kind of lumpy, but the sheets and pillowcases seemed clean.
There was no internet access point in the room. There was a 7p/min internet terminal in the lobby. There was no safe in the room, though there was a sign in the lobby indicating safe boxes were available.
The windows were old, and once I opened the outer pane on mine, it would not close again. It didn’t make a noticeable difference to the noise I heard from the street below.
I enjoyed the view from my room. Southampton Row is a pretty bustling place. Not unpleasant (read: scary) in its noisiness, the night I stayed. There are a lot of hotels and restaurants around, and it’s clearly on more than one main bus route.
The bathroom was shiny and looked clean (the floor was not perfectly clean, as the damp-towel test indicated after my shower).
Water pressure was fantastic, as was the hot water supply. The shower head didn’t fit in the holder, and when I turned it on, the thing swivelled to blast me full in the face.
The hair dryer was not the most powerful in the world, as I discovered trying to dry out my PJs a bit (so I wouldn’t be lugging around so much water weight in my bag the rest of the day).
The breakfast was fine, though I didn’t try everything. The bacon was OK, the muesli was good, the pastries were hard and dry. The servers were very polite, and when I dropped my knife a young man very quickly brought me a new one without my needing to ask. The room cleaners were friendly.
I came away a positive impression of the place, keeping in mind that costs are being kept down. Cleanliness and security seem decent (I might request a room without a door to the next one if I were to stay again). Comfort suffered a bit in that the bed was small and worn and wedged against the wall, although a taller colleague who was in a double room said his bed was long enough. I would have preferred to have internet access and a room safe. Overall, I would recommend the Bedford Hotel as sound budget accommodation in a very central area of London.