“ Address: 1 Harrow Place / London / E1 7DB / Telephone: 0871 984 6190 „
Having to travel to London quite often for business I am always on the look out for somewhere nearer to the office to stay that does not blow the travel budget allowance stated in our company travel policy and upon recommendation of a few other colleagues I thought I would give this one a try. ---Getting there--- Now I know the name of the hotel suggests its on Liverpool Street its not its just round the corner from Liverpool Street station in Harrow Place. OK, how to I get there, well for me I was walking as not too far from the office having checked out the exact location on multi-map and the route to take which will take about 15 minutes I think providing I am not distracted by the shops along the way, this normally happens and it takes me ages to get to my hotel. For me I am walking from London Bridge and head off down Fenchurch Street into Aldgate High Street, cutting up Dukes place I think and onto St Botolph St, from here across the road, through the courtyard, across another side street and I am at the back of the Travelodge, how did I know this, well there is a big Travelodge sign on the back in plain view. Walking around to the front entrance of the hotel I notice that there is a Post Office running nearly the whole length of the ground floor and find the main entrance to the hotel at the opposite end of the building that I arrived. Now this is not the most attractive looking hotel I have ever stayed at and it kind of looks a bit out of place as if it has been sandwiched in between all the office buildings and is not at all in keeping with surrounding architecture or colour schemes, though this does actually make it easier for you to spot the hotel I suppose, certainly I spotted it from a distance and recognised it from the picture displayed on the Travelodge web site. At the end of the day its not what the building looks like on the outside but the quality of the rooms etc thats the most important as you see a lot more of the inside than the outside. ---Reception--- Entering the hotel I note that the main reception area is small but immaculately clean, the reception desk reminds me of a check in desk at the airport but bigger as there is nothing on display at all here, not even a leaflet for tourists to pick up. There are a couple of vending machines for cold drinks and snacks but thats about it. The staff where extremely pleasant and check-in is very quick as with the Travelodge you pay in advance at the time of booking so all you need to do is advise your reservation number and wait for your room key. Whilst checking in you are advised of the opening times for the café/bar in the evening and also what time breakfast will be served, prior to this I was asked whether I have stayed before and as I had not I got the full speech. I am sure that if you had stayed before you would not want to listen to something you already heard and indeed experienced. OK so now I have my room key, the standard key card type and head off to find my room. If you are not staying at the hotel this is as far into the building as you will be able to get as you can go no further, not even to the café/bar without your room key as you need to swipe yourself in to open the door, personally I like this as it adds that bit of extra security and know that you are only going to see hotel guests and their visitors inside the building. Once through the main door you are greeted by a small flight of stairs leading up to the main and only lift in the hotel, next to the stairs is a disabled lift to take you up to the level of the main lift but as I did not see this actually being used I cannot comment further. Off I head to find my room which is on the first floor which is also the same floor as the café/bar and I did have some concerns re noise and food aromas. Exiting the lift I noticed that I could smell food but as I proceeded down the corridor and through the first fire door there was no food aroma at all, good as this is where the rooms start so my worries vanish re smell. --- Now for the room--- Ok, what do we have, inside the room I have a double bed with plain cream bedding all looking very crisp and clean, fitted bedroom units which have wardrobe (doorless) at either end with a work surface running between the two with a couple of draws. TV on the work surface, nothing special bog standard TV all no frills. Fitted lights either side of the bed which I do like as I find sometimes the overhead main ceiling light can be a bit to bright in hotel rooms especially later in the evening when relaxing. The usual Gideon bible and a phone, though you cant actually call reception for any assistance as Travelodge do not provide any sort of concierge service at all. Ah tea and coffee making facilities and yes it is just tea and coffee, no hot chocolate lurking in there but at least I have these facilities as I do like a nice cup of tea when I get out of bed in the morning. There are two tea, two coffee, sugar and 4 servings of long life milk which should last me for one night. Sitting on the bed, I like to check it out to see whether firm of soft and not that this is quite firm but feels extremely comfortable which is good as I dont tend to sleep very well in a hotel anyway and an uncomfortable bed would really not help, but thats me. There is an extra pillow and an extra blanket on the shelves in the wardrobe if you need them but I did not as there was only me staying in the room and three pillows would have been a bit much. There is no air conditioning in the room and I notice that as it was a warm day, you know the one when it did not rain the window had been left open so that the room was not too stuffy, the window does only open a couple of inches, for you safety to stop you accidentally falling out or even deliberately jumping out. ---Bathroom--- The bathroom is small but not tiny or cramped in here we have toilet, sink and a shower, no bath so for those of you who like to have a nice long soak in the bath at the end of the day dont stay here or you will be disappointed. The bathroom is very clean as is the shower tray; there is nothing worse than finding a dirty and tatty looking bathroom in a hotel I think. There is a small sliver of soap provided and two towels but that is it, no other toiletries in keeping with the no frills theme, I am not really bothered either way if a hotel provides these or not as I have my own personal favourite toiletries that I take everywhere anyway and I like to keep to what I know wont irritate my skin. Ok now I have unpacked all my bits, plugged my phone charger in and portable DVD player in the conveniently located sockets, had a cup of tea I am ready for something to eat, so off I go to check out the café/bar which was only at the other end of the corridor for me so not too far to go. ---Bar / Restaurant--- Upon entering I find that although there are only a couple of people in here the atmosphere is friendly and relaxed, the bar has floor to wall windows looking out over the courtyard I have walked through earlier in the evening and this is a nice view from here. The courtyard is cobbled with lots of seating and raised flower beds which are currently in full bloom and look wonderful in the early evening sun and I am actually tempted to go and sit out there later. Every table has a menu on and I choose my seat and take a look at whats on offer. Now here I am very surprised the menu offers and excellent variety of foods of the sort of pub grub standard which is much better that I was expecting, I think I was expecting to have a very limited choice of say a baked potato, Panini and a few items along this theme but this really was so far from what is available. The food on the menu ranges from just under £3 for soup of the day and fresh bread to just over £10, if my memory serves me correctly, for steak and chips. I opted for the steak and ale pie with chips and peas which was £7.95, OK not diet food by hey its just once. Other items on the menu where, spring rolls, curry, salad and pizza to name a few but I think there would be something for almost everyone here. Noted that they also do warps which are on a smaller menu and maybe these are not available all the time. You order your food at the bar and at the same time order a drink and I had a large glass of white wine £4.60 not too bad a price at all for a hotel bar. Now I cant remember how long it took for my meal to arrive as I was engrossed in a book and did not keep an eye on the time, your meal is brought to your table along with any cutlery you may need, salt and a tray with sauces and the vinegar which are all in those tear open plastic portions. The portion was extremely generous and I sat there thinking that this would feed two people and there was no way I was ever going to eat even half of it. The chips where big fat and chunky, though not home made but of the frozen kind but nevertheless they where very nice, the peas where sweet and juicy and the pie was enormous, covered with puff pastry and filled with big chunks of steak and gravy so I was not disappointed at all with what I got. I did note that the bar is fairly well stocked but they had ran out of Rose wine which would have been my first choice for a drink but you can get a pint of Grolsh for £2.95 and there where many bottled beers, Alco pops and spirits available. Now did I get a good nights sleep, well reasonable anyway, the bed as promised earlier was as comfy as I had expected it to be after sitting on it and woke up quite rested the next morning. ---Breakfast--- Now for breakfast, breakfast is served in the café/bar area and this is a buffet style help yourself including full English breakfast, cereal, toast, tea and coffee all for £7.50 which you pay for at the time in the café/bar. I opted just for eggs and bacon as feeling guilty still about the steak pie the previous night and a lovely cup of tea, the food was nice and hot and did not look at though it had been sitting around for ages, breakfast is served from 7am to 10am. ---Checking out--- Ok time to leave, check out- well just hand your room key back in at reception or pop it into the box if there is nobody around, its that simple, no queuing at peak times to check out and pay for anything additional, you pay for your room at time of booking and for your meals and drinks as you have them. ---Prices--- If you book way in advance you can get a room with Travelodge for as little as £15 per night which is a fantastic price, however, my trips are never booked that far in advance and are usually at short notice so the full price of £95 for mid week is payable, fortunately its all paid for by my company in advance. Would I stay again? Most definitely yes, even if it was not for work as this hotel is conveniently located for quite a few attractions such as Tower of London, Tower Bridge, Museum of London and the London Dungeon and also you are very close to Aldgate tube station for anything else that bit further away. This for me would make an ideal base for a theatre trip, no its not really within walking distance but you could take a cab both ways with the money you save by booking really early for your room. As long as you remember that Travelodge are a no fills outfit then you wont be disappointed with what you get. One thing to remember there is no car park at this hotel and you will have to use a public NCP car park which is quite close by, also you are inside the congestion charge zone so beware to put your hand in your pocket for this also if travelling by car.