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“Comfortable, convenient, friendly staff”

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The Principal London
Ranked #446 of 1,073 Hotels in London
Reviewed April 12, 2005

I recently stayed at the Hotel Russell with three girlfriends. We were very comfortable in our newly renovated rooms, with balcony views of Russell Square, fluffy duvets, immaculate bathrooms with rainhead showers and lots of space. Pleasant staff and lovely public areas. We did not eat breakfast because it wasn't included in our reasonable rate. There are plenty of places to eat nearby. I would definitely stay again.

  • Stayed: April 2005
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    • Cleanliness
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8  Thank Saralaw
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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3,325 - 3,331 of 3,868 reviews

A TripAdvisor Member
San Francisco, CA
128
Reviewed April 4, 2005

Like other reviewers, I had wanted to stay in the Russell Hotel previously. I was awed by the exterior, but at the time, my budget didn't permit. With the weakening of the dollar and a gradual climb in what I'm willing to pay for a hotel, the Russell Hotel became comparable to other London options, so we took the plunge. We paid $153/night for a deluxe contemporary room through United Vacations, and given the mixed reviews for the hotel, I was a bit apprehensive. Overall, we did not have a bad stay. We think the room was a good value for this price, but the hotel still has some flaws. It is hard to say at this point whether we would return to the Russell for our next visit or chance another hotel in the Bloomsbury/Holborn area.

The public spaces of the hotel are indeed very nice. The amazing marble lobby with blindingly bright crystal chandeliers and wide staircase is very impressive. The conference rooms and restaurant have been restored and are elegant with elaborate plasterwork, mirrors, and marble. The wood-paneled bar is exactly what you expect in a Victorian hotel, with comfortable well-worn leather chairs. In contrast, reception is starkly modern with pale blue walls, and the elevators have art deco mirrors. Food and drink are quite expensive, but as mentioned by others, dining and drinking options nearby are numerous.

Reception was eager and pleasant. We got a complimentary upgrade from a queen-sized bed to a king-sized bed on the 7th floor. When we stepped out of the elevator, we were bathed in modern squares of pale blue lighting for the pale blue halls. Our room was one of the newly-remodeled contemporary ones, and its size was impressive. In addition to the enormous bed, there was a good three feet of space on all sides of the bed in addition to the TV stand and two arm chairs at the foot. There was a glass and wood partition at the head of the bed, and this partitioned off a work area that provided a desk, telephone, internet connection, and storage shelf. Other amenities included an iron and ironing board behind a full-length mirrored panel, a smallish but adequate armoire, a refrigerator with complimentary bottles of still and sparkling water, tea-making stuff, and an in-room safe. This was by far the largest room we had ever had in London. Everything was blond wood, pale blue/white paint, and glass. The bathroom was also very modern with a large glassed-in shower, heated chrome towel rack, a freestanding basin on a granite-topped table with shelf, and a generous shelf across the entire length of the bathroom for putting your stuff. The bed was very comfortable and there were high-quality sheets, towels, and toiletries. The room was clean, and housekeeping did a good job of tidying and replenishing each day. We truly enjoyed relaxing in the room each afternoon over a cup of tea and a comfortable place to sleep each night.

Sadly, the remodeling work done has not been of the highest quality. Towel hooks in the bathroom had already pulled free from the wall. The carpeting in the doorway was already stained. The floor beneath the carpeting was very uneven and creaked. Electrical plates were fastened askew. The preliminary work for a flat-panel plasma television on the wall facing the bed left an exposed electrical junction box. We noticed these things over time, and while they really didn’t affect the comfort of the room, we felt regret that the hotel’s efforts were being undermined by shoddy worksmanship.

Given all the comforts of the room, and in spite of some inferior worksmanship, you are probably wondering what has made us undecided about returning. It boils down to plumbing. In a room, I really only want three things: a comfortable and clean bed, enough room to put out my things, and good plumbing. Without these three, all the space and high-threadcount sheets don’t mean much. Essentially, the sink and shower had problems with cold water. Hot water came out in abundance and with good pressure. This was fine for using the sink, but this was a major problem for the shower. One got a good jet of water going, but the lack of cold water meant the water was scaldingly hot. Lowering the jet of water such that the cold and hot balanced properly resulted in an enthusiastic sprinkle. We were able to shower and wash our hair, but it was frustrating to achieve the right setting for the shower morning after morning. I called down about the problem, and workers came through three times to work on the plumbing. Sadly, I suspect the problems go beyond anything a worker can do in a single room to the overall plumbing of the hotel. In the overall scheme of the universe, it seems quite petty to complain about a merely tolerable shower each morning, but when it comes to hotel reviews, it’s not so minor.

So there you have it. The hotel is obviously trying very hard and has done some things very well. The public spaces are great. Our room layout, the space, and the amenities were great. However, the plumbing problem is a major one (and mentioned by other reviewers), and given some of the poor worksmanship in the remodel, I suspect the rooms will not hold up well over time. Given the beauty of the hotel, I want it to do well, so I hope that should I return, these problems will be addressed.

  • Stayed: March 2005
    • Value
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
28  Thank A TripAdvisor Member
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
A TripAdvisor Member
Northern Ireland
217
Reviewed March 26, 2005

I've stayed in this hotel on 3 occasions and had very mixed experiences. Essentially it all comes down to the refurbishments (big time refurbishments). If you get one of the newly decorated rooms you'll be quite happy. If you get one of the older ones - you'll be very disappointed.

  • Stayed: March 2005
    • Value
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
6  Thank A TripAdvisor Member
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 20, 2005

We have wanted to stay at the Hotel Russell for many years, being attracted by it's magnificent Victorian exterior. The inside did not disappoint: a magnificent lobby with well-restored mosaic and splendid staircases, a "gentleman's club"-style bar with comfy leather chairs, a clean and comfortable room. However, the bar needed comfy chairs to cushion the shock of their prices! These were ripoff even for central London: a small beer was £4 and a glass of ordinary Italian wine £5 ( I can buy the same brand for £3 a bottle). We were hungry, but the bar menu prices were astronomical. The last time I paid this much for alcohol was in Iceland! Having booked online, we were surprised to find that breakfast was not included in our room tarriff: this was nowhere made clear on our confirmation.
I would advise anyone who wants to stay at the Hotel Russell to take their own snacks! Better still, 100 yards down the road is an excellent and authentic Italian Restaurant, Il Fornell, with friendly staff and reasonable prices.

9  Thank nelsdorter
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
A TripAdvisor Member
Toronto
319
Reviewed February 18, 2005

I was at the Russell for 2 nights in February 2005 and I think they have been taking everyone's comments here to heart. It has recently been purchased by a new company who are doing a huge restoration project at the moment. Personally, I would have preferred to have known that the hallway outside my room was something of a construction zone during the day BEFORE I booked, but the good news is that the room itself was beautiful. New furniture, sumptuously decorated, spacious and a huge and beautiful bathroom with an extremely deep clawfoot tub. We were lucky enough to get a room with a view of Russell Square, and though some might complain of the traffic noise, if you live in a large city anywhere else in the world you have to admit there's really no helping hearing sirens downtown!

The staff seem to have cleaned up their act, too. Reception staff were friendly and knowledgeable and when we phoned down for a sewing kit and bottle opener a very nice and professional person was at our door within five minutes.

I also take exception to the person who claimed that there were no good restaurants in the vicinity. My boyfriend and I celebrated our anniversary at a very fancy Indian restaurant 2 blocks from the hotel and had a wonderful time. The food was fantastic. And come on, it's London! You're never more than 2 underground stops away from some of the best food in the world. Take my word for it -- the Russell Hotel is getting better.

15  Thank A TripAdvisor Member
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 8, 2005

You'd be better off staying in a hostel at the local university than getting an economy room. The decor was depressing, carpet stained, ceiling had major water marks, bed damp and old, bathroom covered in mildew, the hallways were seeped in stank, and no air conditioning. The rooms probably haven't been renovated since the 50's.

I was trying to be prudent about cost savings by booking here (cheap room for a 4 star!) but the cheaper rooms here equate to more of a 1 star/cheap motel. Go get a nice 2-3 star room somewhere else.

Location-wise, as everybody has pointed out, the Russell is fantastic. Close to tubes, British Museum, Russell Square, and the University.

12  Thank Mackenzie S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 7, 2005

After reading some of these reviews, I have to admitt that I was a bit apprehensive about staying at the Russell. I can now assure you that it is a lovely hotel. The architecture in the lobby is quite impressive, the rooms are all renovated, modern and clean and the bar is quite cozy. I am a US businesswoman who is traveling alone and am quite at ease at the Russell. The rooms are a bit small, but I have no problem with that. On the other hand, the bathrooms are quite large.

14  Thank Kiel
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about The Principal London

Address: 1 - 8 Russell Square, London WC1B 5BE, England (Formerly Hotel Russell)
Phone Number:
Location: United Kingdom > England > London > Bloomsbury
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Business Center with Internet Access Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Restaurant Room Service Suites Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
#285 Family Hotel in London
#301 Luxury Hotel in London
#346 Romantic Hotel in London
Price Range: $348 - $1,341 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:4 star — The Principal London 4*
Number of rooms: 373
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
We are delighted to present The Principal London which will open in stages throughout the course of the summer, and will fully launch in September 2017. The Principal London is an iconic establishment nestled in the heart of the city. Whether you wish to indulge in a spot of shopping or want to host a conference at one of London's most exclusive addresses, The Principal London is the perfect base for business or leisure. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Russell Hotel London
Hotel London Russell
Russel Hotel London
The Principal London England

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