'You have one of the refurbished rooms' promised the receptionist (Lauren/ Laurien? Very good!) Great, we thought, let's have a look!
Up to the 6th floor to room 651 we went. Good job we didn't run in as momentum would have carried us right past the bathroom and bed and out of the window- a distance of about 12 cm!
This is definitely the smallest hotel that we have ever been squeezed into. I've taken larger tents on holiday. No storage other than a wardrobe squashed by bed. Not even room for drawers. Not enough room to pull chair out from desk and sit down- see the pictures.
Yes- it was refurbished. In a sort of sub-Ikea veneered light oak effect with wardrobe doors so flimsy that they will fall out by themselves one day- except that the bed will hold them in.
Couldn't actually use the left door of the wardrobe because it is blocked by the bedside cabinet.....
The bathroom.... The towels are horrible: 3 very thin and small towels and only 1 wire rack....so nowhere to dry them on. Shower shoots out water at all angles including at the ceiling. Drops from a morning shower are still there, hanging on the ceiling, 8 hours later in the afternoon so they are definitely there when housekeeping call..so why is nothing done?
Tea and coffee packs...very sparse.
On the first morning I spilt powdered coffee on the carpet. It was still there the following day so no vacuuming going on.
We were delighted to discover that included in our booking was a free 3 course meal on one night. Worth £15 this was very welcome on the Saturday evening especially as the service started at 5.30 and we had a theatre ticket.
We started with a 1970`s style retro prawn cocktail. This was ok except we were told off for serving ourselves from the cold buffet. One of the other starters was a selection of salad from the cold buffet... which is where the prawn cocktails were stored. Customers were being told off all night... This is the sort of pathetic attitude by hotels which really annoys me. If so many guests get it wrong perhaps the hotel needs to change the system....
Second course was a carvery. Choice of pork, lamb or beef. I asked for pork and lamb. I got pork and beef. When i pointed this out i ended up with all 3. Then a Yorkshire pudding and some mixed veg and gravy.
This meal was, frankly, dreadful. There was no discernible taste or texture difference between the beef and lamb. The pork was good. The veg out of a freezer and the Yorkshires all exactly the same size and colour... obviously mass factory produced. The gravy was tasteless. Dreadful.
Puddings are, I swear this true, served from a trolley which is wheeled around the room by an especially trained team of trolley wheelers. I was put off making a choice by the pile of coloured artificial cream masquerading as chocolate gateaux which was wheeled to my left shoulder. My wife bravely went for the raspberry cheesecake. This was not cheesecake – it was a thin fruit gateaux– and she says it wasn't raspberry either.
I dread to think what temperature the puddings are at by the end of service- and how many people have coughed or sneezed nearby... Meanwhile an entire refrigerated section goes unused on the second buffet. Saves cleaning it, I suppose.
Coffee was good.
I was so pleased that we hadn't paid for the meal or i might have been rather vocal about it.
Good things..... Reception desk was good. Cooked buffet breakfast is welcome with good bacon and scrambled eggs but awful sausages. Bag storage at only 50p all day and pleasant porters looking after it. TV set was good. Atrium bar area is good and also the service in there both times we tried it out. They make a decent Long Island iced tea. We were on an inclusive rail deal so difficult to comment on value but the signs in the lobby say 90 for a single and 120 for a double so that would be good for central London. The bed was good.
Reception desk- excellent
Atrium bar- good
This hotel does not understand it's guest sector. If a hotel advertises what is, after all, a very good rate for central London then it is obviously going for the tourist, fast turnover economy sector. All well and good. Having decided that but also having a restaurant they then need to gear the restaurant up to the same aspirations. Having waiters serve two out of three starters but the third 'serve yourself' takes staff away from clearing tables.
The main course, even though three are listed on the menu, are all buffet style- just different choices from the same buffet.
In fact the entire menu is an excellent example of marketing skill over reality. Possibly written by an accomplished estate agent.The puddings are on a trolley when they could also easily be self-serve- a great deal more efficiently and hygienically.
At breakfast the main complaint amongst the guests is the effort it takes to attract a waiter to serve tea/coffee. Make this self-serve as well- why on earth keep it to the staff? The staff could then clear tables a heck of a lot quicker.
Would we stay here again? Absolutely not. The Holiday Inn is far better although further away from Kings Cross. Staying at a Premier Inn would get a far larger and more comfortable room with a decent bathroom- but they were not available when we booked our break.
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