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“Acceptable and not much more”

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The Principal London
Ranked #442 of 1,063 Hotels in London
Miami, Florida
Level Contributor
87 reviews
34 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 135 helpful votes
“Acceptable and not much more”
Reviewed March 2, 2006

I travel to London 4 or 5 times a year to visit my boyfriend who lives in Surrey and we always try to stay in the Soho/Covent Garden/Strand area, and preferably at the Thistle Charing Cross, a real 4 star hotel. As it wasn't available on this trip and we wanted to avoid the Strand Palace, we chose to stay a little further, at the Russell where we found a room, breakfast included, at 110 pounds.

We arrived at the hotel late at night and found an extremely irate customer asking for apologies; not a good sign. The girl at the reception was pleasant, and not much else, and assured us that we could get room service, limited to sandwiches, at any time, and that breakfast was served from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m. We were assigned room 218 which much to my surprise, had a street view (pub and horse hospital). While the room was small, we're used to this in London and it was actually larger than similar accommodation at the Strand Palace or Radisson Pastoria and Mountbatten. As soon as we walked in, we turned on the rather old tv set and found it not operating. As we were tired and had no intention of leaving the hotel, we had planned on room service and some television, and so I attempted to call "guest services" (no answer), the operator (no answer) and finally, the reception (no answer). We played this little game for about 15 minutes when I finally decided to go downstairs and complain.

Once at the reception, I was advised by the same girl that she would send the concierge immediately to repair the tv and that she would be able to take our room service order, which I placed (roast beef and chicken sandwiches, and a diet Coke). Unfortunately, they claimed to be full and therefore, no change of room possible.

After waiting a good half hour and more unanswered calls to the desk, an extremely surly and severe man appeared at our door claiming to be the concierge. After much hassle with the tv cables, he was able to repair the problem and we were finally able to get the standard channels you might get on Freeview in the UK (all the BBCs, Channel 4, etc). I know it's London and there's plenty to do, but a hotel that advertises itself as 4 star should at least carry CNN.

After another 1/2 hour, we received our room service without the diet Coke. The sandwiches were about the worst I've had in my life; gravelly dark meat chicken and dry roast beef. We would've been much better off buying something at the Tesco nearby. We asked the server to please bring the diet Coke which eventually arrived a good 1/2 hour later. During this time, we'd asked for a cable to connect to the internet and were not only charged a 10 pound deposit, but also charged a hefty fee for use of internet services.

On the following morning, we arrived at the breakfast room at approximately 10:05 a.m. only to be told that they closed at 10:00 a.m., but would accommodate us if we ate fast. I advised that the check-in girl had told us 11, but apparently this applied only on weekends. (How can a hotel employee not know the times of operation of its services?) The rest of our stay was pretty uneventful.

I should point out that we were not completely disappointed with the hotel. On the plus side, the hotel was clean and the bed was very comfortable. While we didn't need air conditioning, it's nice to find a hotel in London that has it as it can get stuffy there in the Summer. The breakfast, for this type of hotel, was above average. It was nothing spectacular, but the food was fresh and they offered a good deal of variety. With a few exceptions, the staff were generally indifferent, although some of the restaurant staff were somewhat nice.

The location of the hotel is good. It's not Soho/Covent Garden/Strand, but it certainly beats staying in Kensington, Earl's Court, Marble Arch, etc. and although a bit long, you can certainly walk to Soho, etc. and always be entertained. There is a tube stop right next door, and on the Picadilly line, but this area of London has lots of budget hotels and B&Bs and the smallish station gets extremely crowded with tourists, but nothing patience won't overcome. When I read there was a Tesco nearby, I envisioned the regular-sized Tesco in my boyfriend's town, but instead, found it was a Tesco Express, something like a 7-11 with a few more items. It is always extremely, extremely crowded, but given the dire situation of room service at night, if you arrive tired, you're better off braving the lines and buying a sandwich there.

One curious item was the faucet; I've never seen one this small. My hands didn't fit inside the basin and it filled up with water (without a plug) in about 10 seconds. Very, very uncomfortable.

The hotel is impressive from the outside and we thought the bar and breakfast room were classic English, but we found the staircase dizzying and (too much red marble) the lobby a bit tired.

Bottom line----we weren't completely disappointed with the Russell, but as it advertises itself as a four star, we expected a little more. The accommodation itself is fine, but if they want to be 4 star, they need to change the attitude of the indifferent staff and be a little more attentive to the needs of their guests. I would stay again if I got a very good deal, but otherwise, I'm back to the Thistle Charing Cross.

  • Stayed February 2006
    • Value
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    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
5 Thank islington3164
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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A TripAdvisor Member
Reviewed February 28, 2006

Stayed over a weekend. The standard double we were given was definitely not 4 star. It was small with junk shop style furniture. The wallpaper had small parts torn off and the ceiling paper was nearly hanging off in places. The carpet was well worn and had buckled along its width which could be used by a small child as a trampoline. The paintwork was scuffed and the grouting in the bathroom had discoloured brown.
The window was mouldy around the panes of glass and had no secondary glazing causing constant annoyance from the noise of the air con unit outside.
The staff claimed no other rooms were available however, strangely enough, I could upgrade for an additional £60. This room was of a 4 star standard as was the Foyer which has recently received a multi million pound refurbishment. Shame they didn't think of doing the same to the rooms!
Breakfast was in a nice setting although on the Saturday we did have to queue at least 30 minutes for the priviledge. The food was, overall, adequate, but if you believe scrambled eggs should appear light and fluffy then you are in total contrast to the views of the Chef who makes them like slop. You could always try the fried variety I suppose, but these were only available in blue!
The staff were, on the whole, fine although not particularly friendly.

  • Stayed February 2006
    • Value
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
5 Thank A TripAdvisor Member
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Travelers are raving about these London hotels

Montreal
Level Contributor
17 reviews
17 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 42 helpful votes
Reviewed February 27, 2006

First of all, this hotel like all others I have stayed at to date in London, does not give value for your money. When I arrived, before I was even assigned a room, I said: I dont want to waste your time or mine; please do not give me a room looking out on a wall. Guess what! That's exactly what had been planned! Apparently, most rooms of my calibre: standard double, did in fact looked on an inner courtyard (translation: WALL). I could of course upgrade for an additional 30 BP, but hey, why should I, since I was already paying over 200$ Cnd for basically an extremely ordinary, dumpy room even with a window looking out over the street (which yes, I did get, without too much trouble, and without paying an upgrade).

For me, the Russell had a great location, since I had a meeting at 17 Russell Square, so this was a hop skip and a jump from the hotel. Other than that however, I don't know how these hotels have the nerve to offer such ordinary, dumpy rooms, badly decorated, small, with absolutely nothing special or nice about them. I will say the lobby was nice and so was the bar, very cosy and British, but hey, I don't sleep in the bar.

I have yet to find a hotel in London that I feel gives me value for my money, and I am still searching.

  • Stayed February 2006, traveled on business
    • Value
    • Rooms
    • Service
Helpful?
6 Thank Déesse
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
A TripAdvisor Member
Reviewed February 19, 2006

Visited London for the weekend and found this hotel on the web..looked great in the photos but then again don't they all!
I found the staff to be very helpful and the breakfasts were fantastic, the room was clean and very comfortable...only gripe was that the evening meals are very overpriced!!

Overall all very happy and would highyl recommend a friend!!

  • Stayed February 2006
    • Value
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
5 Thank A TripAdvisor Member
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Hong Kong
Level Contributor
10 reviews
10 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 30 helpful votes
Reviewed February 7, 2006

A London taxi driver tipped us off to this hotel and we loved it! It is a beautiful historic building with an impressive marbled entry, lovely patterned carpeting, stain glass stairwells, and even a little dragon atop the staircase! We were on a remodeled floor with a beautiful corner room and balcony. The bathroom was modern and well done. The hotel kindly kept our bags for us during a day trip to Paris and then kept them late on our last day in London.

There was some initial confusion as to whether our room included the wonderful full English breakfast buffet, but the staff was very professional, seated us and told us not to worry about it. They waited on us hand and foot and made our daughter feel like a little princess!

We will definately stay at this wonderful hotel again. It was only 2 minutes from the Russell Square Tube station, and an easy commute around London, and very close to some great little cafes and the British Museum.

  • Stayed February 2006
    • Value
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
8 Thank we_6_Kings
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Ottawa, Canada
Level Contributor
44 reviews
28 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 29 helpful votes
Reviewed January 24, 2006

My wife and I stayed with friends and we all thought this hotel was a real find. Literally round the corner from Russell Square tube station (on piccadilly line) and very impressive facade and extrance/ reception. Found the staff friendly and good humour, though we had a laugh with the head chef at breakfast time giving off to his underlings. Speaking of which the breakfast was well above average.
The rooms themselves were very nicely furnished though space was a little on the small side which is typical of London hotels. Having said that, for the price we paid (found a good price off a website) value for money was excellent.
I'd say I will stay here when in London in future.

  • Stayed January 2006
    • Value
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
7 Thank drsunny
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
North Carolina
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 7 helpful votes
Reviewed January 21, 2006

A stay at the Russell is memorable! We were particularly pleased with the courtesy of the staff, especially those at the front desk who were very gracious about a booking error by our booking agent and offered us our choice of other rooms. The hotel interior is beautiful and the location in Bloombury, right around the corner from the tube station, couldn't be better. It's also within walking distance of the British Museum. The rate including breakfast is a good deal for what you get, as breakfast separately can be expensive. The renovated rooms are well appointed with comfortable beds and linens, towel warmer, etc., and ours had a great view of Russell Square. The history of this fine old hotel is also interesting. Virginia Woolf and friends used to hang out here, though the hotel pub named for her was closed when we were there. We plan to stay at the Russell whenever we are in London!

  • Stayed December 2005
    • Value
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
7 Thank jhuffj
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

Property: 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
#297 Luxury Hotel in London
#346 Romantic Hotel in London
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$$
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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