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Reviewed October 9, 2010

I stayed 2 nights at the Holiday Inn Express – Southwark in October 2010. I chose the hotel both for the location and the price. It was near an event that I was attending, and the price was pretty low for London: 129 pounds per night, including VAT and breakfast.

I have stayed at a few hotels while in London, most of them higher in star rating than this hotel; the two most recent were the Intercontinental Park Lane and the Hilton Tower Bridge. I did not expect the quality of the room or the service in this hotel to meet those, but still expected it to meet a certain standard. It did not.

Cons:

I’ll start with the cons, since they are why I’m not recommending this hotel. The biggest thing this hotel had going against it during my visit was the air conditioning in my room, or, rather, the lack thereof. I suspected there was a problem when I checked in, as the thermostat was turned down to less than 10 degrees Celsius and the room was hot. I was exhausted, however, and opened the windows as best I could (see below) and took a nap. When I woke up the room was comfortable so I didn’t think too much more about the air conditioner.

At night, I closed the window as my room was facing the street. The ambient noise is rather loud with the windows open.. A word about the windows: I have to applaud the hotel owner’s initiative at soundproofing the room. They have installed 2 sets of windows, the first, outer layer, which is door-like (on a hinge) apparently wasn’t good enough to prevent street sound from entering the room. So they installed a second sliding set of windows inside the first set presumably to help block out the sound.

Unfortunately, this second set of windows prevents the windows on a hinge from opening more than 4 inches wide. Not a lot of air can get in. It had to be at least 10 degrees Celsius cooler outside than inside, but opening the windows did not cool the room completely. Furthermore, it would be impossible to get a good night’s sleep with the windows open and it proved also to be impossible to get a complete night’s rest with the windows closed due to the heat. I woke up about 3 hours earlier than expected because of the temperature in the room and could not go back to sleep.

I mentioned my room’s problem to the clerk on duty at the desk in the morning and she said that unfortunately maintenance didn’t work on the weekend, but that she would see if she could do anything to remedy the problem. She also said she would place a fan in the room if she was unable to fix the air conditioning unit. I left the windows open to keep the room relatively cool during the day, and left for the day.

When I arrived at night, the thermostat was set at 10 degrees, the windows were CLOSED, and the room was hot. There was no fan. I did manage to get one from the (different) front desk staff. On the way up to my room I spoke with another guest who also said his room was hot the night before. I had thought about asking for a different room but I now think that that probably would not have helped.

Their remedy (the fan) was one of the weakest desktop fans I’ve ever used, but it was better than nothing. I tried to position it on the window ledge thinking that perhaps I could blow in enough cool outside air before going to bed that the room would be so cold that it would take longer than all night to warm up. Unfortunately, the fan didn't fit in the window ledge and even if it did the cord wouldn't have reached the nearest plug.

If I had been planning to be in London longer, I would definitely have checked out of this hotel early.

Con #2: the room was tiny. I expected this, but I am a Platinum member of the Prioirty Club program and, if the emergency exit map is to be believed, I got the tiniest room in the hotel. If you are a priority club member, don’t expect to be treated well.

Con #3: The elevator. This really wasn’t a big deal. I had to wait to go up or down a couple times since the elevator is very small, but I really didn’t have to wait too long. A previous reviewer had complained about the elevator being noisy and perhaps needing maintenance. I didn't notice any similar issues, so they must have fixed it.

Con #4: The price. I got what I believed to be the cheapest room rate based on a corporate discount, but when I was checking in, a group walked in and rented two rooms for twenty pounds less than I was paying.

Con #5: Wireless internet access is available, but it's 5 pounds per night. Most budget hotels now include internet access with the room cost, but this one does not. I travel to England quite often and have a pre-paid USB internet dongle so this was not an issue.

I can't comment about the breakfast, because I didn't eat it in the hotel, but it seems to be included with every overnight stay.

Pros: The hotel was clean, safe, and was in a pretty good location. There is a tube station nearby. A number of nearby businesses do seem to close pretty early, such as the nearby Pret a Manger sandwich shop and the Marks & Spencer grocery store. Still, they are very convenient during the day and other convenient shops are just a couple of tube stops away if it's later in the evening.

If the air conditioner had worked, or if the staff were able to come up with a workable remedy, I very likely would have overlooked the minor cons and recommended this place to others. The rate is pretty low, the location is good, the hotel is clean, and even the bed is pretty comfortable. However, the fact that the room couldn't stay cool while remaining soundproof, and the fact that the hotel staff could not remedy this situation, leads me to recommend you look elsewhere. There is a Mercure probably less than 100 meters away, I would look into staying there if you are looking to stay in Southwark. Otherwise, there are over 1,000 hotels in London and surely you can find one in a similarly good location for a similar price. If you can’t, I recommend spending extra for a better quality hotel.

  • Stayed: October 2010, traveled solo
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Thank zski
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed October 9, 2010

Good location to Tate modern and river Thames for a walk over the millenium bridge towards St pauls .5 to10 minute from Southwark tube station .Staff helpful and friendly.breakfast basic but as much as you like.

  • Stayed: October 2010, traveled with family
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1  Thank kevdeb14
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed September 26, 2010

This is a good place to stay if you are visiting the Globe Theatre or anywhere on the Southbank as it is just a five minute walk. We stayed two nights and found it all fine, though nothing to get excited about. The rooms are exactly the same as we have encountered in other Holiday Inn express hotels and although the road outside is busy (if you have a road facing room) we slept well. The breakfast is OK and included in the price. Best for us was the secure parking under the hotel which wasn't busy and they were happy to extend our parking for an additional £8 for the rest of the day after checkout.

  • Stayed: September 2010, traveled as a couple
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Thank Liz L
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed September 19, 2010

Hotels in London were pretty thin on the ground the week I was here, so I booked the holiday inn express as it was reasonably near where I wanted to go and a 'recognised brand' Coming through the door, I was pleasantly surprised by the clean bright lobby, but the reception staff immediately put any ideas that this might be a pleasant stay out of my head (rude, and although they knew I was there, it took quite a while for them to stop gossiping and actually check me in) I was given a room card, no indication of the room number (much rolling of eyes like it was my fault I couldn't guess where to go), and on to the scary lift which sounds like it is badly in need of servicing. The room was like something out of a prison camp, probably the smallest I have ever come across in central London, and at £150 a night in a not great location, I would expect at the very least for doors damaged by previous guests to be fixed.

Breakfast was terrible (the hot breakfast items were dried out - not a good omen at just past 7am) - I wouldn't recommend anyone to stay here, unless there is both a management change and significant improvements to the hotel.

  • Stayed: September 2010
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1  Thank jmee
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed September 19, 2010

I stayed here for two nights recently, and found that the hotel pretty much hit my needs.

There was some small delay with checking-in, which is never good when you arrive at 10pm and just want to get to your room, but otherwise the staff seemed efficient and friendly. The rooms were comfortable, clean. Breakfast was included, but a little basic. When busy, the staff also seemed to find it hard to keep the breakfast bar replenished meaning people were waiting around for new stock, blocking others. The coffee was also quite nasty.

My biggest complaints: the fact that there is only one, small lift means that it can take quite some time for it to arrive and when it does, it's often full - or there is a queue in the lobby for it. When on a high floor, this becomes quite a nuisance. The pricing of internet access is also too high - many other HI Express' have free wifi, yet this and the HI Express Earls Court (owned by the same franchisee) seems to charge quite a high price.

I'd stay here again, but it's the small things that make an "ok" hotel into a great hotel, and with a few tweaks, this could be so much better.

  • Stayed: September 2010, traveled solo
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Thank colmirl
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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