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My review of the new Travelodge PLUS London City, Middlesex Street

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This is my review of the brand new Travelodge London City, 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:

Travelodge PLUS London City review

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.

Check in

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 room

“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.

Travelodge PLUS London City review

You got the typical ‘open wardrobe’ now turning up at all budget hotels:

Travelodge PLUS London City review

and

Travelodge PLUS London City review

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.

Travelodge PLUS London City review

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:

Travelodge PLUS London City review

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.

Travelodge PLUS London City review

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).

Travelodge PLUS London City review

It was a perfectly pleasant place to sit for an hour.

Breakfast

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.

Travelodge London City review

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.

Travelodge London City breakfast review

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.

Conclusion

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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Comments

  1. thanks for the review. i’m surprised at the £59 rate, as the Travelodge 1 minute away (Cutlers) is often £89-99 offpeak a couple of weeks out, and approaches £200 (!!) in busier times…

    • It has just opened and they have a lot of rooms to fill.

      My concern is how they expect to attract any business travellers when the rooms are only bookable direct.

      • Our corporate travel agent has a bridge thing that lets you book with providers who don’t traditionally work with agents. Unfortunately Travelodge is one of them, there’s one in Dublin that is on our preferred hotel…

        • What’s this ‘bridge thing’ exactly?

        • The agency lists Travelodge as an option but if you want to* reserve it, it takes you out of the agency website to make the booking on the Travelodge site, then once booked, you get sent back to the agent and the booking appears on your list of reservations.

          I think the same thing happens with Ryanair too but as they are nearly last on our list of preferred airlines I’ve never quite had to book them.

          *or have to, as it’s “most favored choice” (sic)

      • We can book Travelodge though our corporate booking site (Capita Travel). I was forced to stay at the Travelodge Ilford a few weeks ago, working in Docklands, as there was an event at Excel and literally nothing else within company budget of £200/night (except the Travelodge Croydon). It’s basic but adequate. Reception couldn’t find my reservation and wanted me to pay again, despite it being billed back. Turns out Capita had faxed a credit card to them… Also breakfast consisted of a box with a muffin and a carton of oj. So I’d use them with work as a last resort, personal travel it would depend on the price.

  2. It looks better than purely functional and kept in the same condition then I’d consider it a useful addition to my travel arsenal. Do they have a loyalty scheme at all?

    • No.

      Sadly, given how woeful the hotels are in Brighton, if Brighton Seafront is at this quality level then it is probably one of the better options in the town.

      • Woeful in terms of chain brand offerings in the town I’d agree. Mercure on the seafront on a magic Monday Accor promo stands out as one of my least favourite stays at any hotel ever. Hilton Metropole didn’t fair much better either, however there are plenty of medium upscale boutique hotels that seem to fill the gap for the more aspirational guest – most of which also appear on Kaligo and rocketmiles at comparable prices to their own direct websites for mileage earning purposes.

        • I found the breakfast spread at the Met decent though (plus managed to get a double-upgrade to a sea view with balcony too, which helped my impression of the property!)

      • Brighton Belle says:

        It isn’t. Brighton doesn’t do class or status. Been that way for centuries. We are still helping police with their enquiries.

      • Wally1976 says:

        Ditto for Blackpool!

        • Lady London says:

          It’s funny you should say that! when I saw Rob’s photos I thought “IBIS Blackpool is a LOT worse than this Travelodge” !!

          This Travelodge in Middx street might do OK if the ground floor bar and cafe area gets popular with walk-ins.

      • That’s unfair Rob – I think you are going too much on others’ comments. Whilst none of the offerings are aspirational or even brilliant value the Hilton is fine as is the Grand. MyHotel is also alright and the Malmaison at the Marina is okay too if you don’t mind being marooned. There is a perfectly serviceable Hotel du Vin (overrated) and also Drakes on the seafront is quite chi-chi, Kylie stayed there! Whilst there’s nothing really top-drawer there’s a lot better than Travelodge (steer clear of the Holiday Inn and Mercure).

  3. matthew says:

    I used to use Travelodge, but never again, no matter how cheap, or upmarket they attempt to go. The rooms will de-grade quickly, as they are cheap to start, customer service is non existent and they don’t care anyway as they have your money. Even getting a proper VAT receipt was a nightmare. I would stay somewhere else and pay more than suffer the Travelodge experience. I have them on my company will not use list along with Britannia Hotels and Ryanair. I have to say that Premier inn are not much better, just much more expensive. I always find a real hotel, can be cheaper, if you look around.

    • My boyfriend and I stayed in one of the Premier Inn hotels (there was no other option nearby) that has no breakfast room, but they had a breakfast sandwich machine. We gave it a go.
      The horror! The bland, insipid horror!

      • I was forced to use one during a Southern Fail strike. The Premier Inn in Worthing charge £120. No breakfast. It is still probably the best available in town.

    • I was £57 for the Heathrow Premier Inn last month and I thought it was good.

  4. Travelodge is fully bookable via our corporate system and has been for some time. We use HotelScene/MyStay via the intranet..Very much not only bookable direct,, but is full featured such as providing instant confirmation so can’t be a hand off through a human.

    Still doesn’t mean I pick it though…

  5. You can’t beat the Travelodge family room prices. The majority of hotels jack up the price by £40-60 or more just to have what is essentially an extra single bed in a double room (including Hilton in the UK, though in the US it’s standard to be able to get a hotel room which sleeps up to 4 and not to have to pay through the nose!)

  6. We stayed in a northern Travelodge last summer (only hotel near our essential destination, although I’d had a good Travelodge experience at Leavesdon for Harry Potter three or four years ago). We bought the WiFi code. When I was having initial problems to access WiFi at all, the reception staff could only advise phoning the private company that provides WiFi because it’s nothing to do with Travelodge. Then once I’d got it working we discovered it was limited to 2 users even though we were in a family room.

  7. Travelodge have quite a few hotels that have no catering facilities other than a vending machine. This includes some city centres locations and others which are not conveniently located for other options (some still attached to a derelict little chef). This would make them zero star rated.

    In those with catering a lot of the menu is designed to be cooked by staff with minimal training- hence fried eggs not being on the breakfast menu (given McDonalds manage to fry eggs the Travelodge menu is very de-skilled).

  8. I paid £3.20 for my coffee this morning.

  9. I manage an upmarket burger restaurant which is part of a chain. Although not on the menu we do have eggs and pans to fry them in. I instruct the staff not to sell fried eggs as they often turn out horrendous. It’s a simple thing that’s not easy to get right

  10. Thanks Rob, I do appreciate the review and think it’s an interesting experiment into your demographic. I didn’t know they’d done a Plus and it does sound interesting.

    FWIW I have tended to avoid Travelodge too, but have had cause to stay at some in recent past (normally in very provincial towns where it’s basically the only reasonable option). They’re basic, not what I’d choose if I had a completely free choice, but reasonable enough for a night or two. I would stay at this one if I had to. It’s not un-handy for LCY either.

    My top tip… combine a TL with a pub dinner and a Wetherspoons breakfast-£3.49 is better than £8.95 🙂

  11. It’s horses for courses as not all of us have our hotels paid for by somebody else which is easy to forget.
    As a leisure traveller, if booked well in advance Travelodge are good value for the money.
    As somebody who uses them a fair bit never had any problems with the service and those that offer good and a bar decent prices are charged.

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