“ Address: 17 Moor Street / London W1D 5AP „
---Something Wicked this way Comes---
I've been incredibly busy recently. Doing what? I don't even know. I've in one of those terrible black holes that make you think you are doing everything, being pushed to every limit and bending space and time till you think you have none left. Then you look back and can't even remember why you've been so busy. My partner obviously sensed that I was going a little crazy and ever so, rather awesomely, prodded me to book a trip away to London for a short stay and a jaunt to the theatre to see Wicked.
---Where did I stay? ---
After looking for a hotel near the theatre I stumbled upon The Z Hotel (Victoria) via booking.com. I suddenly remembered that another ciao-er had reviewed their other hotel in and had an alright time, so I went ahead and booked it. For two nights for my self and my partner it came in at £192 which was fairly cheap for what looked like a nice hotel.
The Z Hotels sum themselves up thusly:
"The Z Hotel is where you sleep, in a city that doesn't. It's dead central. Because anywhere else would be just....dead. That means that you can check into your room, congratulate yourself on choosing a central hotel with uber-modern interior design, then go and check out the city." It goes on to boast of "Achingly stylish design". Ignoring the fact they used "because" at the start of a sentence, I was intrigued as to how "achingly stylish" a hotel room can really be. I would soon find out.
I got my first surprise after booking when I went into the hidden room details on the booking.com website. It hadn't made it entirely obvious that there was no window in the room we had booked. The Z Hotel's own website does make it a bit more obvious that you won't be paying for a view. I consoled myself and my man with the fact that the rooms, though windowless, looked clean and was really just for two nights.
Skipping a very long trip on the train down to London, we arrived at Victoria a little worried about finding the place. Thankfully, less than five minutes later we were standing outside amazed at how close to the station it is. Literally directly across from it! After we knew where it was we could have gotten from the station to the hotel in just over a minute. We were both very impressed with the location. It was also less than a 5 minute walk Wicked (the show we were going to see) so that made me happy. It meant I got to spend what little time we had in London exploring rather than having to worry about travelling from the hotel to the theatre and back again.
---Enter stage left...---
You enter the hotel via the Z café and check in at what is essentially the café checkout. The area is small but nice, with large glass windows looking out onto the street and a few tables and chairs dotted about. Upon check in we were informed that complimentary cheese and wine is available in the café in the evenings. I don't know if this is a regular thing or if we just caught it on a good night though. We were advised of the breakfast price menu which ranged from a low priced continental breakfast to a whopping £11 for a full English breakfast. The train station across the road also has a weatherspoons that do a full English for half the price. Personally I live in Scotland where I can get a full English for less than £4 so I wasn't overly impressed with the cost of breakfast. It did feel slightly awkward checking in, in the café. Standing with all our bags right next to people who had had a chance to freshen up was a little unnerving but not a big deal.
---Alcoholic beverage, sir? ---
The café has a small selection of drinks and snacks which we didn't get a chance to sample. We did have a look at the drink selection before realising there was nothing there I'd drink. If you are a fan of wine, you're probably more in luck. If you prefer spirits or basically anything else, the range isn't fantastic. However there is a pub right next door to the hotel so nothing to worry about if you do want a wider drink selection at the end of your travels.
Upon entering the room you have to pop your key card into a holder on the wall to activate the electricity. We were only given one key card between the two of us, so this could cause issues. You need to be extra vigilant on leaving your room. The room was as wide as the bed which fitted snugly into the far end of the room, surrounded on three sides with a leather headboard. There was a Samsung Smart TV with Sky (though not the full package) set into the wall at the end of the bed. On the left hand side there was a frosted glass cubicle that contained the toilet, a sink and a shower. All of this leaves just enough room for a small desk and a stool along the right hand wall. There is space under the bed for storage and there were about 6 hangers provided on coat hooks for hanging items up. There wasn't a cupboard to hang things in so if you did want to hang anything it was basically hung in the middle of the wall and did make the place look a bit untidy.
Under the desk there were a couple of drawers containing a kettle with the usual accompaniments and above it there are plug and usb sockets. There is also a bottle of Z Hotel water (which after tasting I assume is tap water, I also saw a bunch of the empty branded bottles sitting in crates outside one of the rooms) and two glasses. As you have no ventilation via the form of a window, there is an air-con unit above the door with controls on the wall. The controls don't have a manual so you will just need to play around and figure it out, (which took us a good half hour) You may want to ask for 2 keys if you want to keep the air-con on while you are out, which I would suggest if you go in summer.
I was a little dubious about the glass cubical when I saw it. Personally I didn't mind it but I can imagine that others might have more of an issue. You can hear everything that's going on in there. Now, I love my partner and we are very comfortable round each other but I have been with others in the past that I wasn't as comfortable with and the thought of them hearing every plop and splish is, quite frankly, mortifying. It also doesn't exactly do wonders for containing any bathroom related smells.
The sink was fine, square, stylish, a little shallow for my liking but that's being picky. The water didn't really run cold which was a bit of a bummer for getting a nice cold glass of water (since the bottled tap water provided was decidedly room-in-London-in-summer temperature).
The shower was great. I detest baths so I was quite happy to not have one. Others may not agree. Either way, the water pressure and temperature was brilliant; the hotel complimentary toiletries were also quite nice. You'll need to bring your own if you plan on getting more than a couple of good washes out of them though. The towels provided were lovely, big and fluffy and did the job perfectly. No complaints here.
How was our stay? In short, an absolute nightmare. At least it would have been if we had managed to get any sleep. It's very rare that one of us has a bad night's sleep, let alone the two of us. The first issue I actually noticed as soon as we first entered the room. Dust. The place looked like it hadn't had a good dust at least in a couple of weeks. The bottle of water actually had a big hair sitting on it and the leather headboards had a coating of dust on top also. Not a huge thing if you don't have crazy skin like mine. As it stands I was itching for a good part of the night thanks to the lack of a good feather duster.
Further to this the bed was the most uncomfortable bed I've ever slept on. Not only was it solid, the linen was so crisp that it rustled like a bag of crisps at the slightest movements. I'd have probably have been more comfortable sleeping on the floor. Poor Allan being quite tall kept knocking his feet off of the wall since the bed was flush with it. "Achingly stylish" seemed a much more apt phrase now that i had experienced the bed.
---Light up, light up, as if you have a choice---
Above the door there is a bright green LED set into the roof. And light emitting it was. After turning off the lights to settle down we noticed it was still ridiculously bright. We have south facing windows at home so we are used to the odd bit of light straying its way through the sides and top of our curtains, but this was something else. It was the equivalent of leaving the door open to let the hall light in, or having a children's night light plugged in. This wasn't mentioned in any literature on the booking site or the Z hotels own site.
Adding insult to injury was the TV at the end of the bed. We had been given a remote to control the Sky and turn the TV on and off, however there was no button on the TV (possibly because it was in the wall) to turn the big red LED off. Our choice was to either lie with the LED at our feet and stare directly at it, or lie with it at our heads and stare directly at it. I wanted, quite simply, to break it.
---Bring the Noise---
Our luck wasn't going anywhere fast with this room. The noise from various sources was the worst culprit of all. As there was no ventilation in the room we had to keep the air-con on to maintain a comfortable temperature. If the air-con didn't have a constant absent minded hum coming from it, this may not have been an issue. But it did.
Joining in this absent minded chorus was the TV from one of the rooms near us. I could hear the muffled voices of a few celebrities and their admirers thudding through the walls. Couldn't tell you which direction they came from but it left me feeling depressed about the inadequate noise proofing in the room.
Worst of all, however, was the train station. Six floors up and a minute or two away from the station you'd not think you'd hear much? Think again. Every single train that rumbled in and out of that station made its presence known to our ears. Keep in mind that Victoria station closes at 1am and opens again at 4am. Overall 3 hours without the train adding its deep tones to the magnificent song our air-con was singing with backing from the neighbours TV in our bright green box.
---Getting it fixed---
Having went to bed at 10:30pm after travelling since 09:00am I was tired. Allan was knackered. I decided I had to do something. At 01:00am I finally accepted that we couldn't sleep like this and went down to the café/reception to see if anything could be done about the light at the very least. When I told the guy at the counter the problem, he informed me the green LED was an "emergency light". He did, however, come up to the room with some black duct tape and cover it over. As for the LED on the TV he had to flip the breaker switch for the whole floor to turn it off. That was something at least but the noise and the uncomfy bed persisted the whole night leaving us shattered. We got up at 8 and were so tired that the thought of staying another night almost brought us to tears. We decided we had to check out and go somewhere else.
---Say what? ---
Off we went downstairs at half 8 having skipped a shower in favour of getting the hell out of dodge. I asked straight away to speak to the manager and the gentleman I had asked straight away said "yes, how can I help". Imagine the luck of getting the manager on your first go. We explained the situation; he apologised and then asked another woman behind the desk to deal with us. Apparently he was just the duty manager. The hotel manager hardly even looked at us as she was busy with a delivery man. She was brisk to the point of rudeness. She said she could put us in another room but that it would have the same beds, the same lights, the same problems. She then informed us that she would only refund half of the second night as she won't be able to resell the room (even though we checked out hours early in one of the busiest areas of London). We were a bit taken aback by this odd hotel policy but just accepted it as we were dying on our feet.
---Happy ending...almost. ---
We did find another hotel, which happened to be the one directly on top of the station. It also had air-con, a window, a bathroom, and a bigger bed and was a lot more expensive than we had anticipated BUT there were no noise or light problems. I'm not really sure what to make of Z hotels offerings when compared to that. I'd be inclined to say you get what you pay for, but £192 isn't exactly cheap either.
Needless to say, when we were less exhausted and had gotten home we sent off an email to the hotel to complain. I detailed the issues we had and I pointed out that other chains will happily refund your whole stay if you have a bad nights sleep. The next day I received a short reply from the hotel manager refunding the whole stay and saying that the hotel CEO would be in touch soon. It did make me wonder why this wasn't offered when we were actually in the hotel. I would have been happy to leave things there and be over with it.
A week later the CEO responded. Rude does not cut it. After making comments about my "lengthy" email and how she would find it "churlish" to give a point by point response (similar to my original email) she went on to tell me how expensive the beds were (three times she said they were "expensive") as if to negate the fact they weren't comfortable. She reiterated the green light was an emergency light as if that makes it ok to not mention it on room bookings or on the website anywhere. She advised me that they "don't benchmark ourselves against other chains as we feel we offer unrivalled locations with carefully designed bedrooms" calling Travel lodge and Premier Inns locations "inferior". That of course would depend on what you were doing since they have fantastically central locations themselves.
On a more positive note, she did acknowledge that the dust situation was unacceptable and that she has reminded hotel staff about the importance of cleanliness within the rooms but then defended it by saying "as we have only recently opened the building still does have dust settling in it as any new building does". Most importantly, she did also refund the room again (so a total refund of £384 on a room that cost £192). Had she left it at that I'd have probably been quite happy. Of course, one last total clanger of a statement never goes amiss.
She concluded by stating "clearly our offer is not suitable for you and your partner" and that she "would suggest in future you chose to stay in other hotels as clearly our brand isn't ever going to please you and we are fully aware that our offer isn't suitable for everybody as it is different." I'm not quite sure what she feels is different about her hotels other than the lack of decent customer service or comfy beds. But there you have it. I certainly didn't feel it was any more stylish or better designed than the numerous other hotels I've been in.
---Will I be staying there again? ---
Given that the CEO of the hotel so bluntly told me to do one after raising genuine complaints, no. I may have considered the other branch in Soho, since a different location may deal with some of the noise but after the attitude received from hotel staff and the CEO, that's never going to happen. The beds were not comfy, the room was not clean and the noise and the lights were too much to deal with. Some off the staff were nice; the ones in charge need to learn a quick lesson from them.
I'd much rather spend a bit more money and go on a real, relaxing holiday.
===My stay in short===
Location: Five stars. The location is amazing for theatre goers, however there are plenty other hotels in the area who can also boast of this, some are even closer.
Bathroom: Three stars. Small and compact but not as self-contained as I would really want from a bathroom. The shower was great though.
Room: No stars. Zero. Nothing "Achingly stylish" about it. Looks like every other hotel and comes with its own light and noise sources. Terrible sleep = terrible room.
Cleanliness: No stars. A quick dust would have sufficed probably, but to someone who gets itchy as hell, I'm shocked the room wasn't given a once over before we were let in.
Price: Three stars. While fairly cheap, you certainly end up paying for what you get.
Overall experience: One star. And that's really only because the location and the shower were good. Minus points for the terrible customer service and terrible sleep.
5 Lower Belgrave Street
Central reservations number:
020 3551 3700
Hotel - firstname.lastname@example.org
Resrvations - email@example.com
CEO - firstname.lastname@example.org
It's not often that I'll stay over night on London - transport links have always been good enough that I can easily get home at the end of an evening. As a Christmas present, I got my other half theatre tickets, and with more theatre gift tokens in our hands, we planned to get some last minute tickets for other plays too. As it was a special occasion, we decided to try and find a hotel that we could stay for the Saturday night. There were lots on offer, but invariably that were a few tube stops away from where we were planning on being. We found the Z Hotel, located in the heart of theatreland - literally (and I mean literally in the literal sense, not in the exaggerated and inaccurate modern vernacular use of the word) a stone's throw away from the Palace theatre, which sits on the crossroads on Charing Cross and Shaftesbury Avenue. The price wasn't too bad, and it had good reviews. It's brand as "the Urbanite Stay" - a new wave of affordable, cheap and trendy hotels for city lovers. Intrigued, we booked. We choose the Z hotel in Soho, but they also have a hotel in Victoria.
The hotel says about itself: "If you're an Urbanite, you don't stay out-of-town, when you visit a city. You don't skimp of style, or pay grand hotel prices. The Z Hotel is where you sleep, in a city that doesn't. That means that you can check into your room, congratulate yourself on choosing a central hotel with uber-modern interior design, then go and check out the city. The essential comforts. Crisp bed linen. An en suite wet room. Achingly stylish design. Plus the city on your doorstep; so you can work or play as late as you like - then simply saunter back to your Z Hotel, drop into the Z Cafe for a refresher, and then off to Z bed. If you love cities, you'll really like Z Hotels. From £75, The City for out an out-of-town price. Zleep on that."
First impression is how small and bijoux it is. Through the main doors you have the reception-cum-bar area with a few tables, so you can buy a drink and sit down. On checking in we were taken further into the foyer area where we told that our room wasn't ready (this was about 6pm), we were delighted to be offered free wine and nibbles whilst they looked into it for us. We went through to a bar area with more little tables. Half of the room was probably the width of a very generous train. I realised there were doors outside, on the furthest side of the lobby/bar/cafe - and we were infact in the "Z cafe". The menu offered light snacks and drinks (all London prices). We sat back with our wine and nuts and relaxed, very nice. The beautifully presented receptionist came and told us it was our lucky day and by way of apology, we had been upgraded to a Queen sized room for the inconvenience. Brilliant! All the staff had a European-Business-Young-Professional-chi​c quality about them. The decor was minimalist and smart, yet very comfy and relaxing.
We were on the 4th floor, and whilst it was supposed to our lucky day...the lift was out of order - so we had to walk up the stairs! Ouch! There are 85 rooms in all. We got to the 4th floor and had to go outside into a sort of courtyard and open area, to get to our rooms - it felt like we were in a block of posh flats as we navigated the chrome and wood panelled corridor, with glass on one side, letting us look down onto the ground floor "urbanite" surroundings. Our private corridor only had 2 rooms, making us feel somewhat VIP! When we got into the room, through the standard door swipe, card key, locked door, the first thing that hit me was the size. It is tiny. Of course, they make no apologies for this - nor do they pretend they are otherwise. The finish is clean, tidy, trendy and minimal. The size is similar to a student dorm, a small amount of floor space, with a double bed up against the wall. Our room had the window just above the bed, so it didn't feel quite as claustrophobic as I feel it would appear if the bed up against a blank wall. At the end of the bed is a swanky Samsung flat screen TV - with SkyTV (oo la la). We also have 2 small bedside tables - one with a bottle water and glasses, and the other with a tea caddy - holding "teapig" teabags (which I thought was rather special, as opposed to the standard brands) and coffee. We also have a kettle and an iPod/iPhone connector, we were able to use this to charge our phones, which was really handy, but also, more impressively allowed us to play music or videos on the TV - a fab touch, I thought. The decor was lovely and smart, certainly stylish, as they promise. We had plenty of fluffy pillows and gorgeous bed linen. There was no wardrobe, but hooks on the wall and a full length mirror. There was aircon which either didn't work properly, or we couldn't work out how to use it. The room wasn't sound proofed, but I believe double glazed. As London never really goes quiet, I don't think you can expect to stay in the city and get a completely traffic-noise-free stay. It kept surprising me how central we were - it made me giggle when we could see the Palace theatre out of our window - central or what?!
Housed within the room, is the ensuite bathroom/wetroom. What makes this stand out, compared to other ensuites, is that the walls are made of frosted glass. To be honest, I thought it was too much design over substance - using the bathroom was like you were still in the bedroom, peeing in the corner or something - weird. If you had to share the room with someone you didn't know intimately, I can imagine the ensuite being potentially embarrasing - i.e. you.can.hear.everything! The fixtures were smart and snazzy, but the loo was really small - bucket sized diameter! One thing that made me coo, was the complimentary shower gel was Thierry Mugler - very nice! The room didn't get as steamy as I thought it might - shower steam all in control, thankfully. I don't know about you, but I just don't get on with wetrooms, I hate that the whole floor gets wet, so when you go back in there to brush your teeth, you can't wear socks. Luckily there were lots of towels that we could down to stave off the flood. In my mind, a wetroom is just an excuse for lack of water controlled shower trays, which probably here, would make the room feel smaller.
We didn't have breakfast, but the hotel offered a continental breakfast for £8.50 - I thought this was quite a lot, really. There is also cafe and bar on the other side of the building that sells light snacks and drinks. The prices are fair for London, but not extraordinarily high. When we first got the hotel, a couple near us had paninis, which looked quite good. I wouldn't choose to eat on site, but for convenience it seems ok.
Price and Value:
We paid £120 for one night's stay, on a Saturday, in January 2012. I'm not sure what you get for that exactly as we got a free upgrade - but it couldn't have been much smaller than the room we had. Considering we are in the heart of London, I think that's a fair price. Working out at £60 each, you are paying along the top end of the price spectrum, but also reasonably cheaper than some other London hotels you could find. They boast you can stay for as little as £75 per night, but this must be for a single room, midweek. With this hotel, if you define value as a comfortable room to sleep in, as you won't be stopping (as you want to explore), you probably are getting good value.
Other points to mention:
Being right in town, there is no parking, although you should be able to find plenty of NCP parking scattered around Soho. The hotel is being refurbished, and our room did have some unfinished timber (displaying measurements from the carpenter, for added realism) around the door, and on the bannister rail outside in our mini corridor - not that this put us off in any way.
GRAND TOTAL: 39/50 - 4 stars out of 5
Would I stay again:
For the location, yes. For the comfort, probably. For the fact you are staying away on a nice break, not sure. If I was planning on spending no time in the hotel, then fine - but sometimes, I like to take my time in the mornings and use the space, but at the Z, I didn't really want to hang around, I can imagine cabin fever developing - especially if you were staying there for a week. I said a few times that the size took me back to my uni days in halls or residence (if only my halls were so swanky) - even then, some of my friends had bigger student rooms than the Z.
If you are heading to London this summer for the Olympics and need accommodation, the website also points out the following:
- 5 minutes walk to Tottenham Court Road (Underground) station
- 20 minutes journey direct to Stratford (Underground) station
- 5/10 minute walk to the Olympic Park
- 2 minute walk to Victoria station (Underground)
- 10 minutes journey to Kings Cross (Underground) station
- Short walk to Kings Cross St Pancreas (Mainline) station (less than 10 minutes)
- Trains depart to Stratford International every 5-10 minutes (less than 10 minutes journey time)
I've created a couple of photosynths to go with the review, if you want to have a look:
The location (next to the Cambridge pub, on Moor Street, opposite the Palace theatre):
http://photosynth.net/view.aspx? cid=512805c8-36af-4b33-ac60-f16045a3da6f&m= false&i=0:0:0&c=0:0:0&z=495.806147897154&d= 4.67939408598089:-0.465892329400866:-0.478861080564795&p= 0:0&t=False
You can contact the Zhotel at:
London, W1D 5AP
Tel: 020 3551 3700
Recommended to the discerning city explorer
Thanks for reading
© MarcoG 2012