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My review of the new Travelodge PLUS London City hotel, 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 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.

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 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.

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 (103)

  • RichS says:

    I cannot see what is “Plus” about this compared to every other Travelodge I have stayed in.
    Premier Inn still looks to be the better budget option.

    • ChampagneSocialist says:

      Agreed, looks much like a normal travel lodge. Maybe with smarter furniture in the communal area. Everything else looks much the same.

      • Tariq says:

        Indeed, wonder whether there was a bathmat? You don’t get tissues at the Premier Inn either. Nor do you get a shaver socket, which I see this room has.

        • Genghis says:

          I haven’t stayed in one for quite a few years now as they annoyed me so much. The shower curtain of the tiny shower doesn’t actually reach the tray so I flooded the bathroom every time.

        • Lady London says:

          Who cares about tissues? If there wasn’t any toilet paper (or if it fell apart) I would worry. But tissues… meh

    • C says:

      The breakfast doesn’t come out of a vending machine!

    • Andy S says:

      It seems the only difference is the optional “super” room. Everything else above is standard travelodge

      • Stoneman says:

        That is not true. Many Travelodges do not have any sort of breakfast facilities (barring a breakfast box delivered to your room) or a communal area. Check them out in Manchester, Leeds and Oxford for examples.

      • john says:

        I like the way the superroom has been upgraded to have a slightly less open, open-wardrobe!

    • 1nfrequent says:

      Ditto to this. In fact, given that the bathroom only has a shower and not a bath, it actually seems worse than a lot of Travelodges I have stayed in plusthat room is tiny compared to other Travelodge properties and other Travelodges give you a hairdryer (albeit built into the wall normally).

      Question for Rob – did this property have air conditioning as that’s been my biggest gripe with the brand (had one incredibly unpleasant stay in London City Road Travelodge a few years ago at the height of a heatwave when I discovered the hotel didn’t have air con).

      My last employer used to insist on Travelodges if you needed a hotel – right up until a very senior executive stayed at one and discovered it was doubling up as a brothel (complete with a violent altercation in the lobby between a prostitute, her pimp and an alleged customer who hadn’t paid for services rendered). After that my former employer insisted we use Premier Inns instead (which I think is a much better brand – more consistent and very pleasant staff in my experience).

      Hard pass on this.
      1F

      • Rob says:

        I didn’t actually notice – it wasn’t hot on Monday – but when I walked into the room the window was open, which implies there isn’t any.

  • Nick_C says:

    I’ve never stayed at a Travelodge, and if this is one of the better ones it really would be a last resort. The room looks depressing. The lack of USB ports in a new build is ridiculous.

    I have stayed at HI Express, which I found basic but cheerful, and at the Moxy near LCY which seemed positively luxurious.

    Budget accommodation doesn’t have to be as bad as this.

    • Alan says:

      I have stayed at many Travelodges they offer a very cheap place to stay for a tight budget. Ar ethey the nicest places to stay? Hell no, but the prices can be ridiculously cheap. We have stayed in London in Augist for £35 a night (for 3 of us) but have never paid more than £30 a night anywhere else.

      Premier Inn are much nicer but they are often twice the price (still a good price). Ultimately, I don’t think HfP readers are Travelodge’s target demographic

    • Mike says:

      They do have USB sockets integrated into the standard UK plug sockets

  • harbhajan m says:

    fantastic review robert.
    a very interesting new offering which has come to the market. i will probably not get my foot wet however. agree with other posters trying to differentiate between this market offering and the existing travelodge option. i know that travelodge is not the best – the last time i had the misfortune to visit one the room stank of body odor – upon changing rooms, we found the replacement stank of something much more sinister (smoke). the one local to me is mostly used by the council to temporarily house the finest of society. all things considered, this plus thing does begin to sound like an improvement. there is definitely a market for budget and it is pleasant. i suspect it will do well while it is clean and then be left to drift like the thistle at heathrow. that place has not had a renovation in 50 years and i only stayed there because i wanted to try the pod. pod was worth it, hotel was pathetic.

  • Simon says:

    Turned me over on the small print of a deal a few years ago for a medium term stay when away with work and swore I would never go back to them. Did once last year as a last resort for one night and regretted it again.

    Lesson learnt.

  • AspirationalFlyer says:

    Thanks for the review. The other key transport connection is that Whitechapel is also on the London Overground, which is run by TFL. It is one stop north to Shoreditch High Street station and two to Hoxton. Two stops south will take you to the pubs and river in Wapping. And the other benefits are that it tends to be less crowded than the tube, has air conditioning and there is normally phone signal for most of the journey.

    • Lumma says:

      This hotel is a fair walk from Whitechapel station (granted you could get the tube 1 stop). You’d be better off walking to Shoreditch High Street or possibly even to Wapping

      • Rob says:

        Having lived next to Wapping tube for 13 years I really would not walk there from this hotel! Partly distance, partly the dumpy area on the way.

  • S***o says:

    Isn’t the point of these PLUS hotels that you have the option of the super rooms? (That you didn’t review?)

  • Wally1976 says:

    As a family of 4 we stay in Travelodges fairly often. Always clean and perfectly fine. Always plenty of family rooms at the same price as a double, the children get a bed each instead of having to share a double and breakfast sub £20 for all of us to eat as much as we want. Don’t usually pay for any other extras (still don’t really get the desperate need for WiFi in hotels especially somewhere with 4G coverage).

    Premier Inn are better and if price is similar we’ll go for that but often they’re much more expensive. Can’t really see Travelodge customers going for the SuperRoom as they are very price sensitive but I may be wrong.

    • Alan says:

      +1

    • sunguy says:

      ” (still don’t really get the desperate need for WiFi in hotels especially somewhere with 4G coverage). ”

      Guess you have never had to travel abroad on a plan that doesnt include either data roaming or otherwise….also sometimes even 4G can be pathetically slow depending on how many others are using it….try baker street tube station as soon as you exit the tunnels for example!

      Also, some foreign operators are throttled on the local networks – try using “3” on a US network….yes, it works…..eventually…..

      • Wally1976 says:

        It was more the point that when I’m travelling I’m enjoying exploring the area rather than using the internet. Appreciate it might be different for those travelling for work. Most of my foreign travel was done in the days before smart phones, tablets etc anyway. I’ll make occasional use of hotel WiFi if it’s free but have never paid for it. Anyway, each to their own.

        • John says:

          Yes, each to their own, but I will just add that my enjoyment of “exploring the area” has increased several-fold since EU roaming became cheap.

          I didn’t think it was worth paying 10-20x my usual rates for internet access before that, but now I can easily translate something I don’t understand, I can look something up on Google, I can find out whether other people thought a place was worth going into…

          I got lost in Bulgaria at 9pm once. I noticed a bus stop nearby. Having internet access allowed me to confirm that an hourly bus would be along in 5 minutes. The alternative was to retrace my steps for an hour in the dark.

        • Crafty says:

          Luckily Brexit will put paid to that convenience for us all

  • bosco says:

    try bife (formerly moo) just down the road.