* Prices may differ from that shown
Recently my wife had to attend a conference in London. It was being held at a hotel in Bloomsbury and, as it coincided with our wedding anniversary, it seemed sensible to stay over and celebrate in style. Unfortunately the hotel hosting the conference couldn't accommodate us so I had to look for somewhere else, close by.
After much searching the only seemingly decent hotel within easy distance by foot was the Radisson Edwardian Bloomsbury Street hotel. I have stayed at this group's hotels in the past although on those occasions someone else was paying. I remember them as being of a decent quality but a tad expensive. Being Central London I expected the cost this time to be even higher, and I was right. Although the Sunday night was not exorbitant, the Monday was what you would expect of a hotel that assumes that a stay will be going on business expenses or is for rich tourists.
The hotel is within a stone's throw of the British Museum, on the corner of Great Russell Street and Bloomsbury Street, with the entrance on the latter. Here the road is one-way, coming from the direction of Euston and there are double yellow lines outside of the front entrance, which is not helpful for guests arriving in their own cars!
There is no lay-by and the hotel does not have its own parking. Luckily, we were arriving on a Sunday and managed to find a spot to park just around the corner on Great Russell Street, where parking on a single yellow line is permitted all day on a Sunday until 8.30am on Monday morning. I then moved it to the Bloomsbury Square underground car park, about five minutes walk away, where a day's parking will cost you just over £25, the fairly usual rate for London's West End.
I did find it very strange that the hotel seems to have made no attempt to make any special arrangements for guests, with the local parking facilities. The concierge did offer to drive the car down to the car park and park it for me but other than that, nothing.
The hotel is a typical classic style old London building that has been internally modernised whilst leaving the exterior virtually unchanged. The reception area at the entrance shows the design style that is extended throughout: dark stone tiled floors and light and dark coffee coloured painted walls and doors. It all felt rather impersonal and lacking in atmosphere. Because of the solid surfaces, the place was quite noisy, with conversations travelling some distances.
Bizarrely, on the upper room floors, the style changed. The corridors are carpeted, as you would expect, in order to keep down the noise, but the underlay under the carpet is so thick and springy that you have difficulty keeping your balance! From one extreme to the other.
The second-floor room that we had was one of their least expensive. It was of a reasonable though not generous size. The one window was double-glazed and just as well it was as it overlooked the main road. With the windows shut the traffic noise was not intrusive but it did mean that you really couldn't open the window. Consequently the room was a bit stuffy. We resorted to leaving the window open during the day, whilst we were out.
The room is equipped with efficient although somewhat noisy air-conditioning: you really couldn't leave it on at night. As a result our night's sleep wasn't the most enjoyable we've had.
The bathroom is situated behind the bed and runs the full depth of the room though doesn't itself have a window. Strangely the bathroom also doubles as the clothes storage area and here you also find a trouser press and hair-dryer. As both are in the clothes hanging area, trying to access them was extremely awkward. I found myself having to take clothes on their hangers out of the bathroom to place on the bed simply so as to be able to put a pair of trousers in the trouser-press!
The bathroom has a proper bath as well as shower over the plug end. There is a decent sized glass partition here in order to prevent water splashing onto the floor, and it does a good job. The towels are large and fluffy and dispensers of Gilchrist and Soames shower-gel and shampoo are fixed to the wall.
The entertainment, other than what you make yourself, is provided by a large flat-screen, wide-screen TV attached high up on the wall. The selection of channels available is quite poor, being less than you would get on normal Freeview. There are no additional Sky channels, which was quite disappointing as when we stayed it was in the middle of the second Ashes Test and so I was unable to follow the action on screen.
The TV also didn't seem to be set up correctly. The BBC1 picture, for instance, was clearly a stretched 4:3 analogue type picture rather than a proper wide-screen digital format. Also, the BBC News 24 channel had a residual subtitles banner right in the middle of the screen, which never changed and which we could not make go away. The hotel claimed that this was beyond their control.
The hotel does have complimentary WiFi available throughout. There is also Internet access through the TV and also via a secure wire attached Ethernet connection to a wall socket. However, both of these means of access are chargeable. Consequently I had to rely on the WiFi, which did work quite well. The WiFi link is unsecured.
Surprisingly, considering how much the rooms cost, breakfast is not included. Breakfast can be served in your room but we chose to eat in the hotel's restaurant. This located to the left of Reception, on the ground floor and extends along the street, with floor-to-ceiling windows that reveal tables on the pavement, at which diners can eat when the weather permits. We ate inside! Unfortunately, the atmosphere in the restaurant repeated the stuffiness we noticed in the rooms.
Continental breakfast costs an additional £9.50 per person. Apart from tea, coffee and toast, which is served by the waiting staff, everything else is available from a buffet. A wide selection of cereals, fruit, cold meats and cheeses, and cooked food such as sausages, bacon and so on, is available. You should have no difficulty in finding something to suit you.
The total cost for our two day stay came to just over £400. Had it not been a special occasion and tied in with my wife's needs, I wouldn't have dreamed of paying that much. As it was I felt that even at that price the hotel really didn't offer good value. The whole experience was unexceptional. The quality of the accommodation was not commensurate with the price. The atmosphere was not enticing. The facilities, especially the entertainment, need improvement. Charging extra for breakfast is outrageous.
I have stayed in hotels in London which offer accommodation at least as good as this for far less and I doubt I would come back here again unless things changed significantly. However, if you have more money than sense, this may be the place for you.
4 star luxury hotel.