“ Address: 5 Commercial Street / E1 6BF / London / UK / Telephone: (+44)207/4228400 „
This hotel is way below the standard of any I have ever stayed in. Having arrived in Russell Square by tube we found the hotel without too many problems, although it feels a little as though it is up a back street. First impressions were not good - the whole place looked as though it were in a time warp.
We went to reception to check in and were given a room key and sent up to the room, only to get there and find it was still being prepared then rudely told to go back downstairs. We went to sit in the reception area where our impression of the hotel only got worse. The common areas were awful, very tatty with dirty sofas which may have been new once in the 1960s. By this point I actually wasn't looking forward to getting into the room. Eventually after waiting around half an hour for someone to inform us our room was ready (which never happened) we took our chances and found it was.
The room itself was not terrible - it was clean and the bathroom was reasonable, although very basic.
In the evening we had a meal booked at the hotel's Saracen carvery. This was a major dissappointment, and felt a lot like dining at Fawlty Towers due to the strange behaviour of the staff who were fussy and invasive. There was a choice of meats or salmon, none of which looked particularly appetising and some vegetables. I chose beef with potatoes and vegetables (frozen) and it was barely edible. The soup for starter was acceptable and the only bit of the meal I ate. I cut my losses and didn't have desert.
We had booked this hotel as a Superbreak through Thomas Cook, and although we weren't expecting luxury we had hoped for something better than the standard of this hotel. We checked out after one night although we had paid for two as the accomodation was awful.
The only positive thing I can find to say about this hotel is the location was good, Russell Square itself has plenty to do and is near the West End. Also, the reception staff were pleasant enough. However, overall this is the worst hotel experience I have ever had - from start to finish the place was depressing, out-of-date and just not good enough.
Having to travel from time to time with work and more and more lately finding that I can no longer fit everything I need to do into one day and have to stay overnight and have been checking out different hotels near to the office.
Ok who are IBIS, IBIS are part of the Accor group which can have its advantages depending on what type of travel you require and where you are travelling, eg in France you can book your hotel and train ticket as a combined package saving time and money. IBIS advertise themselves as being friendly and having helpful staff but we shall get to this later.
The Ibis London City is conveniently located about 20 yards away from Aldgate East tube station and this is one way of getting there, however, I walked from the office which is located near to London Bridge along Fenchurch Street, Aldgate High Street and just onto Whitechapel, in other words across part of a monopoly board, with Liverpool Street Station not that far away either, approx 5 minutes walk.
Arriving at the hotel I notice that the surrounding buildings on Commercial Street are not the state of the art modern architectural type but a bit older and some do look quite shabby, there is currently quite a lot of building work around this area also which does not look nice but if there area is being re-developed then this can only be a good thing, however, I cannot confirm this. The hotel entrance is light and bright and easy to spot, strange thing to say but believe me I have stayed in some places that I have walked straight past initially without even realising that I had done so. Entering the main entrance the first thing I noticed was how busy the main reception area was but this was probably more to do with the fact that it was peak time for check in for business travellers than anything else, although busy service was quick and efficient and in less than 5 minutes I was at the front of the queue and checking in.
Whilst waiting in the queue I did have a quick look around and spotted that there was a bar and also a restaurant, mental note to check these out later in the evening, anyway I digress, after receiving my room key after painless check in process off to the lifts which are located very close to the reception and there is no way you can miss these.
1st task for me is to actually manage to open the door as I normally end up with the room key that does not work or you have to wiggle it a few times for the little light to change from red to green in order to gain access. OK, mastered that after a few attempts and into my room I go. The first thing that strikes me is the bathroom, yes the bathroom, normally you would expect to see the bathroom door on your left or right hand side and the bathroom to have the expected standard square to rectangular shape, however, this is not the case in the IBIS, the wall is curved and runs in a semi-circular shape from one wall to another, strange. Now upon closer inspection I note that this is not at all what I would expect but this bathroom is in fact a built in unit, a sort of pod that you find fitted into a luxury caravan and to enter you have to take a small step up. The unit itself is plastic based, again like the bathroom fittings in a caravan but is extremely spacious. There is no bath but you do have one huge walk in shower but I feel that they have compromised too far on the rest of the space as it does feel a little restricted with hardly any space between the toilet and the sink, apart from this it is perfectly OK, nice and clean with soap and shower gel all ready for your use.
The rest of the room feels fairly spacious and there does appear to be a fair amount of room, given the shape of the bathroom you have effectively opened up the room quite a bit more without having that angular corner of the standard shaped bathroom with bath jutting out taking up space. I have what looks to be a double bed but on closer inspection it is actually two singles pushed together so if you fancy cuddling up with your partner beware there is a gap in the middle where the beds meet. The décor is standard magnolia with a terracotta wall which is the external wall of the bathroom with a few pictures dotted around the room. Also you find the usual wardrobe and a small work surface where the phone is situated in case you need it, girls ideal for vanity mirror and make up. The work surface is not particularly wide but you can fit a laptop on here with any problems or even a portable DVD player. The rooms also all have flat screen TV which is a nice touch and naturally a chair for you to sit and work at, all rooms have WIFI access but at an extra cost of course. One thing I note that is missing is the tea and coffee making facilities which I would have liked as I do like my cup of tea first thing in the morning.
Off to the bar.
Back down to the ground floor for a well earned drink and into the bar I go, here we have a bar that looks like a pub bar rather than a sedate hotel bar with music playing and sky sports on the big screen, though the sound is off so you can listen to the music. The bar is dimly lit but not too dark and there are plenty of tables around of all shapes and sizes for you to sit at, I opted for a small circular table which seats 2 people as I was alone. The bar is as well stocked as you would find most pubs with excellent service and very friendly bar staff, there are also quite a few bar stools if you wish to sit at the bar I ordered a large white wine which came to £4.50 which is OK for a hotel. Whilst sitting and watching the world go by I do note that the bar actually is in an L shape and leads into the restaurant so if you decided to eat here you would not have to walk out and around to gain entrance to here and this also makes life a lot easier for the waiting on staff to get any drinks you order with your meal directly from the bar. Feeling a bit peckish but not really hungry enough to have a full meal I checked out the bar menu which does offer a limited choice of snack including baked potato, sandwich, combo which is suitable for two people which includes potato skins, onion rings and other usual items you would expect to find but I opted for a Panini. Order is simple, order and pay at the bar, you can pay by cash, debit or credit card which I would expect, you are given an order number and then it is brought to your table when ready. Now the bar was quite busy as this is also open to the public and there where quite a lot of people coming and going and I did have to wait quite some time for my Panini to arrive. Once it arrived I was disappointed with what I got, biting into it I discovered that these are not made on site but are bought in and cooked from frozen, how did I know this, well it was still frozen in the middle and back it went, thankfully this was resolved and a fresh Panini was brought a bit later and there was no objection to my complaint. I must actually complement the bar staff as I had only been to the bar twice and the third time I didnt have to ask for what I wanted the barman who had served me previously just did a quick check that I wanted the same and hey it was ready. You can also get crisps and nuts at the bar if you want. I did wonder whether I would have been better off in the restaurant but after talking to some of my colleagues who have also stayed here they where not impressed with the meals on offer here either. Do not be put off by this as each IBIS has a different type of restaurant, this one is LEstaminet which claims to offer delicious food and generous portions, from what I saw the portions looked big and the food looked nice though this does not mean it tastes good.
Please note that 24hr room service is also available if you want to just stay in your room.
Back in my room and settling down for the night time to check out how comfy the beds are as there is nothing worse than an uncomfortable bed in a hotel even if it is for only one night. The bed I had was OK, nothing special but I did get a good nights sleep and woke feeling quite refreshed the next day, I was not disturbed at all by any noise during the night at all though whether this was because I was at the end of the corridor or not I cannot be sure.
Breakfast - Breakfast at the IBIS is served in the restaurant and is a continental buffet affair where you just help yourself. Breakfast is served from 4am to 10am so suitable for most. The selection is actually quite limited with cold meat, cheese, yoghurt and fruit juice with a bit of fruit, tea and coffee is also a help yourself affair from a vender at the end of the room and this was quite congested. I did find that at peak time the dining area was extremely busy and it was difficult to find a place to sit, but once having located a seat I did enjoy my breakfast.
Checking out- again a queue but quick moving and again I was checking out at 8am in the morning which is peak period for business travellers but the staff where not phased at all and dealt with everyone quickly and efficiently.
Mid Week I paid £95.00 plus breakfast of £5.25
Weekend GBP 65.00 plus breakfast of £5.25
As this hotel is extremely busy and usually fully booked during the week with business travellers I would suggest booking in advance as you will be hard pressed to get a room at the last minute which is pretty much the case with most hotels in the area.
Close by attractions:
St Pauls Cathedral
Tower of London
Please note that there is no car park at this hotel and if travelling by car you would have to use a public NCP car park and watch out for the congestion charge.
Would I stay here again, well yes though would not be my first choice, if the Travelodge is full the this would be my second choice and there are some nice curry houses in the area along with quite a few bars but most of the time I am travelling alone and tend to stick to the hotel as even today a woman eating out alone gets some strange looks. This hotel is about as far away from the City that I would consider staying but only because I detest the tube and like to stay within reasonable walking distance from the office, especially when dragging a suitcase around along with everything else I need. Overall a pleasant stay apart from the Panini but this could just have been a one off incident.
The hotel is located ideally in the centre of London's financial district and only a few steps from Liverpool St, the Tower of London and the celebrated Tower Bridge.