“ Address: 9 Argyle Square / London / WC1H 8AS / England „
This hotel is barely a minutes walk from Kings Cross station, making it well placed for public transport around the city. It's situated in a quiet residential square where there are a couple of other similar bed and breakfast establishments. First impressions are good; this place has kerb appeal. Standards do drop once you get inside; there's no denying that this hotel is slightly down at heel but it is definitely clean.
At £46.00 a night for a double room with private facilities, this seemed good value to us. The room had been freshly cleaned and was comfortable. However, the receptionist was not inclined to be helpful when I asked for a non-feather pillow (I'm allergic to feathers), but I stood my ground and a synthetic pillow turned up. She said she'd send someone to the room with a fresh pillowcase, but no one came and a second trip to reception was required.
The bathroom (toilet and shower) was small but clean. There was only one mirror and that was in the bathroom and the cord of my hair drier and straightening iron wouldn't reach. (I was in town for a wedding so this was important to me on this visit, when usually I wouldn't have been too bothered). There was no window in the bathroom, but despite the extractor fan and keeping the door open, the mirror wouldn't de-steam when I wanted to do my make-up!
The fact that all the bedrooms have colour TV did not compensate for my vanity traumas! We were on the ground floor, which turned out to be noisy in the early hours as people returned to their rooms so we didn't sleep well. With some attention, the hotel could minimise the noise from banging doors and feet. There was also no fire notice displayed on the inside of the door, which concerned me a little.
The rooms are more than a little tired; exhausted might be a better expression. But nothing was broken and the high level of cleanliness was maintained through to the bedrooms. The furniture was cheap and insignificant. This is just a place to sleep.
Breakfast was served until 8.45am, which I thought was an early finish for a Sunday. It was a cooked breakfast, small but tasty, though the coffee was very weak. We were chased from the dining room on the dot of 8.45am by the rather abrupt waitress; there didn't seem any need for this and other guests seemed as surprised as we were to have to forgo the last piece of toast and get going.
On a more positive note, the staff allowed us to leave our bags there after check-out as we weren't leaving until the evening.
Despite all the niggles, I would stay at this hotel again. It is good value; after all, you don't stay at this sort of place and expect the Ritz and all its trimmings. I would advise anyone though, to ask for a room that's not on the ground floor unless you're the sort that can sleep through an earthquake.
While this is very cheap and very conveniently located for transportation, the rooms here were so uncomfortable and tiny that there's little we could do to get any relief besides leave. The staff were basically okay, and the breakfast wasn't horrid, but unless you are looking for just a basic room and nothing more, I wouldn't stay here.
The rooms here are absolutely tiny, and from what I understand from a few other guests, ours wasn't the exception, but rather the rule. What made our room even worse was we asked for two single beds (I was there with my daughter) and they gave us what seemed like a double bed, along with a twin. Had they put one double bed or two twin beds in the room, it would still have been small but at least there might have been a bit of room to move around. With this configuration, we had about the width of one leg between the beds and about the same around the outsides of the beds, meaning the best way to move around the room was to climb over the beds, making going to the bathroom in the middle of the night very disturbing to your roomate. As for the bathroom, no surprise that this was so small that the door to the bath was a sliding one. And how they got that ugly purple painted wardrobe in there was beyond me. Thankfully they had the TV bolted to the wall or there wouldn't have been room for that, either.
We also weren't impressed with how clean the room itself was, but since there was hardly any room for us, let alone our luggage, I can't see how the cleaners could get inside to clean it anyway. There is no room service at this hotel but since we stayed a week, they did give us a kettle to use, since we thought the room included coffee/tea facilities but were misled. The best part of this was the view which looks out onto the street and the square/park on Argyle street.
Everything about this hotel seems in need of repair, or close to it. For instance, the wardrobe door was wonky and wouldn't close properly, the handle on the bathroom door wiggled so much I was afraid if I locked it I would have locked myself in, and it is only a matter of time until the entrance door breaks through the wall it bangs against making some much needed ventilation for the bathroom.
The staff were okay and when we complained that we needed a kettle in our room, they did give us one. However, when we told them that one of the beds was big and the other tiny and could easily have done with just one, they said they couldn't take the other one out - which would have made the room far more comfortable (and easier on our shins, since we ended up hitting them on the beds and wardrobe all the time). There is no lobby to speak of and absolutely no spa facilities - we were lucky to get a shower stall in our tiny bathroom!
All you can get to eat here is breakfast which is about all you'd want to have. They offer a typical cooked English breakfast but when we said we don't eat meat, they weren't very good about giving us a substitute for the bacon. The toast was at least semi-hot and there was enough butter/jam available but the eggs were very greasy and we would have liked to have had a yoghurt or cold cereal to choose from as well. Fruit - forget it, and the juice they gave was something filled with sugar. Very sad. But at least we got our food fairly quickly - not that this helped much. In fact we sort of felt sorry for the people working in the kitchen, since I believe their English wasn't that good and they seemed pretty unhappy to be working there.
Being a two minute walk from Kings Cross, this is very convenient to transportation and that's the main reason we booked this hotel. And since Kings Cross has a nice little shopping area and some good grocery stores around it, and if needed, McDonalds and other fast food places, we could at least buy what we needed to keep us from starving after those unfortunate breakfasts. But remember its right at Kings Cross - so you can imagine it isn't the most quiet of places to stay, but neither is it in a neighborhood filled with things to do or places to see. Kings Cross is what it is - the gateway to getting around London for tourists, and not a tourist spot in and of itself.
Which makes me think, perhaps I shouldn't be so hard on this hotel. It isn't like we were looking for a luxury hotel, since we certainly couldn't afford one (not at prices in London these days). The bottom line is - in London, you get what you pay for, and if you can't pay more and want to be close to the tube station, this is about the level you'll get. Too bad the room was so horrid and I do wish that the service and staff were a bit happier and helpful. I just can't give it more than one star and sadly, I don't recommend anyone stay there unless they're desparate!
Thanks for reading!
Davida Chazan © July 2008 (Trivago) June 2009 (Dooyoo)
I paid for a double room, en suite in August only £50 a night, but from what I can see, that price is now at about £60 for the same thing. And by the way, they say the rooms have hairdryers, but I can tell you I didn't get one, and I can't think where they would have put it, in that matchbox of a room!
The site for this hotel is http://www.howardwinchester.co.uk/ but don't bother - it looks so much better in the pictures than it is in real life.