“ Address: 290-302 / North End Road / Fulham / London / SW6 1NQ / United Kingdom / Tel: 0871 984 6429 „
On my latest trip to London I was recommended this Travelodge by my sister - it had just opened when she stayed in June 2009 and she was impressed enough to suggest it to me. The location was good too as my brother in law and his family live in Fulham so it meant instead of a tube trip to see them, it was just a short walk instead. So when there was a Travelodge sale which covered my daughter's October half-term break, I got up early and snapped up 4 nights in Fulham for the quite simply brilliant price of £19 per night.
The hotel is located on the North End Road in Fulham, about a ten minute walk from Fulham Broadway tube station, which is on the District Line's Wimbledon branch. North End Road is a busy road during the day - it's a main shopping street with a market held there too. Buses 28 and 391 also pass the hotel. The 28 serves Kensington and Notting Hill, with the 391 going to Hammersmith, Chiswick and Richmond.
The hotel is actually quite easy to miss, so it's worth noting it is located close to the Peacocks and Iceland stores on North End Road.
The frontage of the hotel isn't conventional in the least - there is an automatic door but you need a key to open it. If you don't have one, you can enter by pressing a button but this only works up until 8.00 pm - after then you need to press a "call" button to contact reception.
Once you enter the door you need to go up to the first floor for reception - which can be accessed via stairs or the two lifts the hotel has.
We arrived around 5.00 pm on a Friday - a time one would expect would be quite busy with new arrivals - and sure enough there were people waiting at reception. What instantly irked me was the fact there was no-one there and the subsequent wait of ten minutes for anyone to arrive irked even more.
The receptionist was very friendly but failed to apologise for the fact she left guests waiting to check-in when she finally arrived. She also failed to inform either me or the lady waiting in front of me in the queue of our room numbers. I found it weird something as fundamental as this could be forgotten twice in a row by her.
There is a locked door which leads from reception to the corridor which takes you to hotel rooms and this can only be opened with your room keycard.
As this is a new Travelodge the rooms were basic current Travelodge style. I had booked a family room so there was a bed, an unmade sofa bed, a wooden desk with tea and coffee making facilities, LCD TV mounted to the wall and a tiny "wardrobe" area which consisted of an open rail with six hangers and one shelf above.
The bathroom is basic but functional - bath with power shower overhead, basin and toilet. Both rooms were clean although I noticed limescale build-up in the toilet which shocked me a little since I know this hotel has only been open a few months.
As usual there were not enough pillows and I had to request more, but this is standard for the Travelodge. You need to insert your card into a holder close to the door to enable the electricity to come on in you room.
Wifi is available in rooms but this costs extra. As I have a 3G phone, with internet access included in my contract, I just used that to access the internet on my laptop.
They say that first impressions count, and in this case it's definitely true. The case of the "missing receptionist" came to epitomise our stay at the London Fulham Travelodge, as it became something of a rarity to see the desk manned by anyone working for the company.
It became commonplace to come in after a day out to see a group of increasingly disgruntled new arrivals waiting for anyone to arrive at reception to check them in. There wasn't a bell located in an obvious place for someone to press to request someone arrive at reception, and save the inconvenience of having to go back downstairs and outside to press the "call" button, I still have no way of knowing how on earth you would contact anyone to tell them you are there.
I have never encountered an unmanned reception on a Travelodge before and found it very, very annoying. I can only surmise the hotel was short staffed, but leaving reception unmanned regularly in a hotel gives guests a very poor impression of both the company and how the hotel itself is being run.
I also noticed when we were originally checked in, the receptionist wasn't wearing a Travelodge uniform, something I found a little odd since I have stayed at many Travelodges and the one thing that has always struck me is the uniform all staff members wear. This could have been innocuous but it could also have been a sign of poor management of the hotel.
The room itself was basic and clean. Maid service was very good and on the one day we slept in, a uniformed member of staff came around to check if we wanted our room made up or not later than usual. The maids were also very friendly and would say hello if they saw you.
The hotel has no bar or catering facilities. This isn't a problem however as there are plenty of places to go to eat nearby. There is a McDonalds very near or if you stroll a little further down North End Road towards Fulham Broadway there is an excellent café called Get Fresh which we visited twice for breakfast. I can highly recommend this place for a cooked to order, tasty breakfast which won't break the bank.
There are a couple of vending machines at the hotel reception area selling confectionery, crisps and drinks but there's a Sainsbury's Local and a Somerfield supermarket nearby which are cheaper and offer a far better selection.
The double bed is basic and nothing special - compared to other hotel chains I do find Travelodge beds a little on the soft side. The sofa bed was firmer however. I do think the one thing Travelodge could do to improve their hotels is to put in better beds - I cannot imagine the ones they currently use last particularly long due to the sheer cheapness of them.
We also had a problem with the room being cold. When we arrived the window was open, which didn't help. Mid October in London isn't usually very cold, however our room was freezing. The electric heater wasn't particularly efficient either - you had to have it on at full power for anything even vaguely warm to come out of it and I can only surmise the rooms aren't well insulated. I'd definitely think twice about staying here in deepest midwinter as a result.
There is also no car parking available at this hotel.
When you check out you just leave your key in a box at reception, so at least the unmanned reception isn't a problem at the end of your stay.
I was really quite disappointed with this Travelodge - the only saving grace for me really was the location. Service from staff other than the maids can only be described as "minimal" and if I had paid the rack rate of £90 per night to stay here I would have been hopping mad.
Yes, Travelodges are cheap and basic, but you expect a certain level of service at them all and to not have a permanently manned reception is something I find unacceptable and it's something I believe this Travelodge needs to rectify as soon as possible.
However it's worth considering if you find yourself in need of a bed for the night and want to be close to several London attractions, including Chelsea FC, Kensington Olympia, Earls Court and the Hammersmith Apollo. When my sister stayed here she was going to see the tennis at Wimbledon and for her the location was also very good.
I am not convinced I would come back to this Travelodge again, except if I could book it at the £19 per night rate I got for my original booking. To be honest, in light of the lack of facilities, lack of staff and basic element of the room, it's not really worth much more than double that - so proceed with caution.