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.
- 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