Review: the new Travelodge PLUS London City hotel, Middlesex Street
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This is my review of the brand new Travelodge London City hotel, which is on Middlesex Street.
It is the first new build to operate under the new Travelodge PLUS sub-brand. I thought we should investigate.
Travelodge has had its problems …..
Travelodge was bought by Dubai International Capital in 2006 for £675m. 2006 was the worst possible time to pay a ‘top of the market’ price for a hotel group. Following the financial crisis the company had big debts and no money for refurbishments. More and more customers started to avoid the hotels, leaving less and less money in the pot, and the downward spiral continued.
In 2012 the business underwent a major restructuring. The banks wrote off £235m on the condition that £55m was spent on refurbishments. 49 hotels were closed or sold to other operators and control of the company passed to the hedge funds who had bought up the junior debt.
Fast forward to 2018. Travelodge once again has some momentum, although Premier Inn still has a better reputation. In an attempt to woo back customers who swore they would never step into a Travelodge again, the brand has launched ‘Travelodge PLUS’.
What is Travelodge PLUS?
Travelodge PLUS launched in July 2018 as the new ‘superior’ Travelodge sub-brand.
You can learn more about Travelodge PLUS on its website here. The format is being rolled out at London City, London Waterloo, Edinburgh Central, York Micklegate, Gatwick Airport Central and Brighton Seafront.
As London City has just opened, is the largest ever new-build Travelodge and is just a modest stroll from the HFP office, I though we should take a look.
Where is Travelodge London City?
Travelodge London City is on Middlesex Street, just behind Aldgate tube station (Circle, Metropolitan) and very close to Aldgate East (District). It would be a handy base for a Friday or Saturday night out around Brick Lane or Shoreditch.
The hotel is a new build:
What is interesting is that there is NO ‘Travelodge PLUS’ branding except for the sliding doors. You just get the standard Travelodge logos on the exterior.
This is the exact boundary of the City vs East End in 2018. Next door to the hotel on Middlesex Street is a run of Victorian buildings with the traditional East End mix of mom-and-pop restaurants, barbers, corner shops and Hilton Textiles!
The price you pay is not the price you pay
I paid £59 for my room. For a Monday night in the City of London, albeit in August, that is cheap. You will have to pay for extras though:
- Breakfast – £8.95
- Internet – £3 for 24 hours
- Early check-in at noon – £10
- Late check-out at 2pm – £10
- Bringing a pet – £20
Apart from the internet fee, which I consider petty, I can’t complain about any of this. £10 to guarantee a 2pm check-out is a decent deal, and you know you won’t have to start negotiating with the front desk with no guarantee of success.
Ho hum. For novelty value I tried to use the automated machine but it could not dispense my key card due to a fault. I went to the desk. The clerk asked if I wanted to swap my ground floor room for one ‘on a higher floor’. I said I would. She tapped away and gave me a key for 106 – on the first floor. Out of seven floors.
My Travelodge PLUS bedroom
“Unexciting” does not even begin to describe the tiny room. However, it is fair to say that it did the job. The bed and bedding was obviously brand new, there was a chair and desk with two UK plug sockets and there was a kettle with tea, coffee and milk.
You got the typical ‘open wardrobe’ now turning up at all budget hotels:
The bathroom was totally acceptable although the floor looked very ‘hospital’-ish. There was only a shower which worked perfectly well, although the floor tray was shallow and I was surprised it didn’t flood out. There were no tissues which seemed a bit too cheap.
I had a standard room. However, you can pay an additional £20 or so for a SuperRoom, the group’s ‘premium economy’ room option. Whilst the same size as standard rooms, these feature Hansgrohe Raindance showers, in-room Lavazza coffee pod machines, irons and ironing boards, a full length mirror, a hairdryer, larger desks and USB power points.
This is a press picture of a SuperRoom, not necessarily from London City:
The communal area
A key part of the Travelodge PLUS experience is the large communal area.
This was, I admit, fairly smart. It was more ‘grown up’ than the similar sort of communal area you find at a MOXY hotel. No board games or coffee table books here.
What you do get is smart bar, decently priced drinks for Central London (£13.50 for a bottle of wine or £8 for any two drinks during Happy Hour, 4pm to 6pm).
It was a perfectly pleasant place to sit for an hour.
Breakfast at Travelodge PLUS
I was intrigued as to what £8.95 would get me in Central London. Given that children under 15 eat free, a family of four would only pay £18 which is very reasonable in the world of £2.50 coffees.
It is served from 6am to 10am on weekdays and 7am to 11am at weekends.
The offering was perfectly fine. There wasn’t much choice – the usual bacon, eggs, sausages, beans, toast, cereal, fruit, yoghurt and that’s it – but my biggest gripe was that staff were slow at refilling the cooked items as you can see from the photos.
They will need to raise their game because when the hotel is full it is going to get a bit crazy given the limited space. It would have made more sense to have an ‘island’ serving area so people could queue on both sides.
If breakfast is not included in your rate you need to pay on the way in to the cafe. You can’t charge it to your room. This is a bit tacky in my view, although the upside was that I didn’t have to queue to check out as my bill was clear.
This was, I think, my first ever visit to a Travelodge. Based on this experience, I won’t be rushing back – but, on the other hand, if a Travelodge PLUS was my only sensibly priced option then I would be happy to stay there.
If you are looking for a hotel around Whitechapel / Brick Lane then this is a decent option. Given the excellent tube connections outside the door I would be tempted to recommend it to anyone looking for a cheap but clean and safe weekend hotel in London as pricing should be lower than during the week.
The Travelodge London City website is here if you want to learn more. Note that Travelodge rooms cannot be booked via most online travel agents.
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