Ramada London Docklands and Holiday Inn Kensington reviewed

This article is my review of the Ramada Hotel & Suites London Docklands and the Holiday Inn Kensington Forum.

I usually find myself in a Regus business centre in Central London once a week, where I can get some work done of the site.  However, over the last three weeks, I decided to try out some of the £20 hotel rooms that were offered in recent promotions. After all, any office is improved when it comes with its own bed and TV!

First up was the Ramada Hotel & Suites London Docklands. I snagged that on this £20 promotion. This hotel is next to the massive Excel exhibition centre – adjacent to the Aloft hotel and opposite a Premier Inn. It is about 5 minutes walk from Prince Regent DLR station. It overlooks the dock and, from my window, there was an outstanding (and outstandingly soundproofed!) view of the runway at City Airport which is only metres away.

From the outside, the hotel looks pretty new (and it is):

Ramada Docklands

Inside, though, it is looking a little worn. This photo was not taken by me but is representative of the small room I had:

Ramada London Docklands

The best thing about the hotel was the free wi-fi, which worked really well. The desk was very narrow but usable. No mini-bar, but that is the norm in three-star hotels these days. There is a restaurant and a bar, neither of which I used. I should give credit to The Fox pub behind the Premier Inn, who did me a great lunch of 3 fish cakes, chips and salad for £6.95, which is £10 less than I’d pay in SW3!

For £20, of course, the room was a steal. You wouldn’t have a bad time staying here, but there is certainly nothing exciting about the hotel. The Aloft Excel London hotel next door is 100 times funkier.

Next up was the Holiday Inn Kensington Forum. This is walkable from my house, which was an improvement on the 50-minute door-to-door trip to the Ramada. Whilst overlooking the main road out of London to the west, it is also decently situated. Gloucester Road tube is very close, and there are a lot of shops and restaurants nearby.

I booked this hotel on the £20.12 promotion rate, which I promoted in this post.

Holiday Inn Kensington Forum

The good news is that my Platinum status was recognised. I was offered a free drink or 500 points (I took the beer!) and was upgraded to an Executive Room. However, this was not a refurbished room. You could be fooled if you look at the hotel website that the Executive Rooms are all refurbished and the standard rooms are not – this is not true.

This picture – which the hotel website shows as a standard room – is EXACTLY what I got as an Executive:

HI Kensington Forum bedroom

From what I can tell, Executive Room benefits are a robe, a bigger and better TV, an ‘executive swivel chair’ (which was too high for the desk – I’d rather have had the chair in the picture above) and a mini bar. I also got a Kit-Kat Chunky – I’m not sure if this was a Platinum or an Executive Room perk! You do not get lounge access or free wi-fi. However, for £20.12 a night I can’t complain!

The hotel itself is stuck in a 1980’s time warp – it even has a Corby trouser press on the wall! It is dispiriting – the rooms are small and the corridors a weird cream colour. It is the epitome of the bland chain property. And, with impressive chutzpah, they charge £4.95 a day if you want to watch foreign language TV channels!

Despite its huge size, it does not have a swimming pool. The gym is small, laughably so for the number of rooms. There is a new business lounge but I am not in a club room and so can’t access it. Interestingly, I was told that I could have breakfast (not that I was staying overnight!) in a smaller private room which was only for Priority Club members. It is hard to believe how little public space it has given how big the building is. Some guests will get great views, but I was on the third floor.

The upsides, such as they are, are friendly staff, some Platinum recognition, a decent coffee shop in the lobby and a location adjacent to Gloucester Road station. It is one of those places you stay if you want to be on the right side of town for Heathrow (most guests are aircrew or tour groups). There is a Waitrose supermarket and a Boots in the arcade directly next door, and plenty of cafes and shops round the corner. That said, unless you get a refurbished room I would find it too dispiriting to stay here.

Next week I will report on my final £20 stay – Holiday Inn Stratford City. As a brand new property, I am hoping for good things!

Accor now moving to electronic discounts for points redemption
Accor 'Happy Mondays' - UK hotel rooms from £25
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Comments

  1. Sounds like par for the course for HIs then – generally uninspiring and variable Plat recognition 😉

    Out of interest did you end up being awarded PC points for these stays?

  2. Raffles, if you have a black Virgin credit card it comes with free Regus Businessworld Gold membership. With the fee of £140 for the virgin card it may be of use to you.

    • Forgot to say that my daughter is staying at Crown Plaza heathrow tonight on the £20.12 offer, on her return journey from LA . She did the same on the way out. She has plat. and given a room upgrade, she was also offered club lounge at a charge of £40. (this would have been bed ,breakfast, drinks and snacks all for £60.12).
      She says thanks Raffles!!!

  3. Diagonal upgrades…. grrr. I generally find some Accor properties to be particularly good (i.e. bad) at that.

  4. ComeFlyWithMe123 says:

    Good to see Regus being mentioned ;o)

    (from a Regus employee)

    • If you have any influence at Regus, can I suggest that the online directory be improved to show which properties have a ‘proper’ business lounge and which don’t? Possibly with additional markers to show if they have computers for lounge users to use etc. Regular newsletters saying which centres have had their lounges upgraded or new centres which have opened with lounges would also be appreciated!

      (PS. If you work in any of the City of London ones or Berkeley Square you’ve probably seen me around at some point!)

  5. I stayed at a HI at the weekend with the £20.12 offer. As a gold I received a choice of 500 points or a drink at the bar. The bar voucher stated that it was a trial and valid only at the hotel during my stay. Breakfast vouchers for £10.50 per adult, children free were offered at check in which sweetened the deal further.

    I have also received an offer of a free upgrade of my PC Visa to Black for a year. I think I will take the offer up instead of cancelling.

  6. Raffles – great blog, only just signed up.

    I’ve also been trying out some of the many £20 type deals.

    First up was Holiday Inn Theatreland Glasgow (£20.12 promotion). I gave it a bit of a sniffy review on Tripadvisor this month ‘Outdated in Almost Every Way’ I too wondered about the continued relevance of the wall mounted trouser press.

    The manager responded to my review with indignation: “All of our rooms have a trouser press and ironing board that are frequently used by our guests”.

    I’m trying the brand new Premier Inn Glasgow for £19 next time.

  7. Yes £19 was a winter sale booking (sale began 2nd January) Same night is £39 now or £70 fully flexible.

    I stayed at the brand new Premier Inn opposite Gatwick North terminal in December and it was well worth £47 so hoping the Glasgow one will be as good.

  8. Chun Kuo says:

    “ for £18 for the day” the hyperlink is a software website? I am trying to find out how to book a room for £18 but couldn’t get it. Did I miss something here?

    • The link is to the prepaid vouchers for Regus, which save you 80 per cent on usual rates. A 10 day voucher is £179 (hence £18 per day), 5 days £99, 1 day £30 (visit regusdirect.com for the full range).

      Once you have the voucher, you ring Regus’s central call centre with the voucher code and they book you a private office for the day in the centre you want, subject to availability.

      In Central London / City you will ALWAYS get an office somewhere, but you may not get your first choice of centre. You also cannot leave stuff overnight in the day offices, even if you are booked into the same centre the next day.

  9. Just noticed that! I am doing a quick post for tomorrow.

  10. Thunderbirds says:

    I had a great stay at the Crowne Plaza Manchester airport using the £20.12 deal. 4 nights booked originally on this deal but I decided to fly out from Manchester to Gibraltar over the weekend and so I needed 7 days parking. I decided to book a club room for 1 night with 8 days parking (£114). Result was after having a chat with the receptionist I managed to stay in my club room for the whole 5 day stay with club access and breakfast each day. All topped off with a “stay 5 days and get 10k bonus” points offer. Free shuttle to the airport as well so not bad all round.