Deciding to book a night in the big city, we used lastminute.com to book a surprise hotel and the Millenium was what we ended up with. One nights stay in a business room cost a fairly hefty £150, but included with the room was internet, minibar and Sky. The hotel itself is located a minutes walk away from Gloucester Road tube so access in and out of central London is extremely easy. Checking in was easy enough, but we had to wait a good few minutes before the receptionist, who was already dealing with another customer, called for someone else to deal with us. Once they turned up, it was a painless enough affair. The experience was underwhelming to say the least. The decor of the hotel was nice enough, but nothing spectacular. Our room was very spacious and well presented, but little things niggled, for example the flat screen television faces the bed, but due to the way the room has been set out, it is about a foot off centre, making it awkward to watch if you are on the far side of the bed. There was also a large desk and a couple of chairs which were awkwardly positioned in the corner of the room, blocking the small corner window, which was the only source of natural light. The room was more costly because we took the business package as mentioned earier. We could have opted for a cheaper room with breakfast included, but the minibar struck us as the way forward! Imagine our disappointment to find it contained two cans of Fosters (yes Fosters), two cans each of Sprite, Fanta and own brand Coke, four bottles of water, one glass of white wine and one glass of red alongside one pack of Kettlechips. Not really the glamourous treat we had hoped for! Another disappointment came in the form of the complimentary tea and coffee that was available in the room. We were provided with these massive mugs to use, but only four piddly sized milks, so really had to scrimp when doing drinks in the morning. The bed itself was pretty comfortable and easy to sleep on (the alcohol may have helped though!). Unfortunately, we did not think to check the air conditioning before we went to sleep, and the room was quite hot during the night. Room service is available at all times of the day and night, although for the casual diner it may be a bit pricey. Just next to the tube station is a Tesco Express which was great for nibbles, and on the high street there are some reasonably priced cafes and restaurants which give a pleasant view of the area whilst eating. We were told we would be able to check in from 2pm, and I think we actually checked in to the room about 1pm which was nice. Check out was at Noon the next day, and leaving our bags with the concierge desk was nice and simple. All in all, for the price involved, it was rather underwhelming. We would have been far better off booking into the travel lodge over the road!
On our latest visit to London we stayed at the Millennium Bailey's Hotel, just off Gloucester Road. As the name suggests, this hotel is part of the Millennium Copthorne chain of hotels. This is a 4 star hotel with 212 rooms over 5 floors. The hotel is in the building of a restored Victorian townhouse that dates back to 1876 and from the details we read on the hotel's website, our hopes for an enjoyable stay were high. LOCATION The hotel is directly across from the Gloucester Road Tube station, which is on the Piccadilly, District and Circle lines. As we flew into Heathrow, we were able to get a Tube from the station direct to the hotel. FIRST IMPRESSIONS Upon entering the hotel, the reception desk is to the left, with an impressive sweeping original staircase with stained glass windows and grand chandelier in front of you. First impressions were very good that this would be a very impressive hotel to stay in. The receptionist was friendly and efficient in checking us in, and despite arriving early, we were glad to hear that our room was ready. THE ROOM We had booked a Deluxe room which offered a DVD player, bathrobes, free newspapers and a more spacious room than the standard rooms. Unfortunately, the room had no DVD player, only one bathrobe, and although the room was spacious, the bathroom was tiny - so much so that you had to watch your elbows as you stood from the toilet seat or you'd whack them off the sink. We were disappointed to note that basic provisions were not available, most notably no soap in the bathroom, no coffee, and only 2 hangers despite being space for plenty more. During the booking we had also requested a quiet room, but had been placed right beside the lifts, and the lift doors made quite a noise when closing, and considering that there was nearly a one inch gap at the bottom of the door, it didn't offer much noise insulation. Not being very satisfied we contacted reception, who sent the duty manager up, who agreed that the room was not up to standard and promptly moved us to a quieter room with a much bigger bathroom. Unfortunately, this room also had no DVD player, although the manager arranged for one to be sent. Now, I thought that connecting a DVD player would have been a simple process. Not so. They had to arrange for the hotel's electrician to connect it, and the first three scart cables he brought wouldn't work. For nearly an hour he tried to get a picture, until he finally had some success. Unfortunately when we went to use the DVD player later that evening, it wouldn't recognise any discs. The next day we reported that the DVD player wasn't working, and it was replaced. Unfortunately the replacement didn't work either, not having a remote control and there being no way to select any menu items from the machine itself. We went without a DVD player for the rest of our visit. The decoration of the room was generally in good condition, if nothing special. There was a large, very springy queen size bed with white bed linen, although the look of the bed was ruined by a threadbare runner although the bottom of the bed that had seen better days. The bathroom had a white bathroom suite with an over bath shower. Whilst the bathroom was clean, it did look very dated, and the silver plating was peeling off the taps revealing the copper base below. Both the floor and wall tiles were plain white, with the grout between the floor tiles being so dirty that it almost appeared black. The bathrooms definitely need refurbished. The bathroom had the usual range of toiletries (soap, shower gel, body lotion and shower cap) and two white bath towels, two hand towels and two face cloths. The towels were all white and felt like they were quite new. FOOD AND DRINK The main restaurant in the hotel is Olive's, which is situated on the ground floor just past the reception. To be honest, the restaurant was quite small for the size of the hotel, but the one night that we ate there, only 3 tables were occupied - I guess in London there is so much choice of eating establishments that you are not limited to eating in the hotel restaurant, hence only a small restaurant is required. I had sea bass in the restaurant which was very fresh and well cooked, although the portion was a little on the small side. It was quite reasonably priced at £16.95, considering that it was from a hotel in central London - I'd pay the same at a good quality restaurant in Glasgow. The small size was more of a problem at breakfast time however, when the restaurant and bar area would quickly fill up. However we never had more than a five minute wait, as there was a steady turnover of customers and the staff managed to clear and replenish tables quickly. Breakfasts consisted of the normal cooked breakfast, continental breakfast and other items that could be ordered, for example scrambled egg and smoked salmon muffin. I'm not normally a fan of cooked breakfasts, but I was tempted after seeing that it wasn't swimming in grease and actually all tasted very fresh and nice. OTHER FACILITIES The hotel is adjacent to the Millennium Gloucester Hotel, and guests at the Bailey's hotel are also allowed to use the facilities of the Gloucester hotel, which include a business centre and fitness suite. Additionally the two hotels also contain other restuarants, including one that is said to be the best Indian restuarant in London. THE BILL We booked a standard room through Expedia, and then upgraded at the hotel to a Deluxe room. The cost for 5 nights through Expedia was £420, with the upgrade costing a further £40 per night. Breakfast was an additional cost, at £16.95 per person, but as we had booked through Expedia we were entitled to half price breakfasts. SUMMARY Would I stay here again? Well, I wouldn't say no, but it certainly won't be my first choice of hotel on my next visit to London. Despite the grand entrance to the hotel, the standard of the guest rooms was disappointing, particularly the slack housekeeping when we arrived at the hotel. Although we never had any issues with housekeeping after we arrived, first impressions do count for a lot. This hotel is ideally suited for those people down in London for a leisure break, who want to be able to easily get around London, yet not be right in the heart of London. Millennium Bailey's Hotel 140 Gloucester Road South Kensington SW7 4QH +44 (0) 20 7373 6000 http://www.millenniumhotels.co.uk/millenniumkensington