* Prices may differ from that shown
Every year our company holds its Christmas Dinner Dance at a venue in London. In recent years it’s been in The Great Room of the Grosvenor House Hotel on Park Lane. This is one of the few locations large enough to hold the numbers attending. Numbers are restricted to just over one thousand employees and partners, chosen on a first come/first served basis. After boogying the night away the last thing you want (or should, bearing in mind the "lubrication" available) is to have to drive home. So the need is for accommodation over-night. The Grosvenor House offers rooms at a discount rate but their idea of discount and mine are still some distance apart. We have tried a number of different hotels in recent years, all within a short taxi ride of Marble Arch but all have been less than satisfactory for one reason or another. Some have started pricing themselves out of the market. Increasing prices are to be expected but when it fails to be accompanied by improvements in quality I find that unacceptable. This year a trawl through The Internet uncovered an intriguing find in the Edward Lear Hotel in Seymour Street. This is within spitting distance of Marble Arch, literally just behind Marble Arch underground station. The website revealed that the location was once the residence of Edward Lear (hence the name), the famous humorist and writer of "Nonsense Verses". The famous blue plaque on the wall commemorates this event. They are clearly trading on the name but beware, expectations may exceed delivery. The hotel is normally easy to miss. It is not obvious until you get close that this even is a hotel although, at the moment you couldn't miss it as the outside of the building is covered in scaffolding! The front door has a "lived in" appearance, with faded and worn red paint. This is a clue to what you will find within. There is no parking provided by the hotel. Ther e is limited on-street parking on parking meters (£3 per hour; maximum two hours; free at weekends from 6.30pm on Saturday) or in local multi-storey car parks such as the NCP 50 metres away (£37 for 24 hours; £8.50 overnight from 6.30pm). You enter onto a corridor with a small lounge on the left (also containing a PC offering free Internet access to guests) and ahead, right at the back of the building, in another larger lounge is the Reception. This room has a homely feel, with a large bookcase containing books for guests to read. You will get a friendly reception; we arrived early (check-in is from 1.30pm) but they did their best to enable us to have access to our room as soon as possible. The bedrooms are mostly on the upper floors, accessed via a steep, narrow staircase. Another clue that this hotel has seen better days is the abundance of carpet tape stuck onto the stair carpet where it has clearly worn through. Not all bedrooms have en-suite bathrooms. Those that don't have access to shared bathrooms on each landing, something I thought had disappeared from virtually all hotels these days. I suppose that the reason is due to the origins of the hotel. It retains more or less its original layout as a house and of course as a house each room would most certainly not have had a bathroom. The room we occupied (with bathroom) was adequate; the heating was on full blast so no complaints about warmth. In fact, even turning the tap almost completely off, the radiator remained hot; there are no thermostatic regulators. The room contained well-worn furniture although the bed was perfectly comfortable. The lighting arrangements were bizarre. The two bed lights were situated right where an unwary riser would bash his head on them as he sat up. Even if he missed the light he would be likely to hit the edge of a short shelf screwed to the wall at the same height, at the midpoint of the bed! We got a g ood night’s sleep (I expect the “lubrication” helped). Seymour Street is not as busy as nearby Marble Arch and in any case, our room was situated at the rear of the premises. We had taken bed and breakfast accommodation. The breakfast was held in a small breakfast room on the ground floor. The hotel was fairly full which meant that we needed to share a table with another guest. We could have had a cooked breakfast but I rarely do. So, what is the overall impression? I suppose I would describe it as adequate. The whole impression is of an opportunity missed. So much could have been done to make this something special but instead the feeling is of a tired and somewhat destitute friend. The cost is extremely competitive though. It is virtually impossible to find anything acceptable within a stones-throw of Oxford Street at under £100 per night (including breakfast!) but the Edward Lear manages it. As long as your are prepared to put up with its limitations, the Edward Lear is probably about the best you are going to find at this price in this area. As a base from which to explore London it is ideally situated. On that basis I can give it a guarded recommendation. Two stars, maybe two and a half for the free Internet access.