My husband and I stayed at the Collingham Suites & Apartments for 11 nights a few weeks ago. I’ve given it only 3 stars because we weren’t completely satisfied with this place. I had read so many reviews on this site where others rated the Collingham very high so I was expecting to be happy with it, but we were disappointed in our apartment and I was shocked that this place had gotten so many rave reviews.
This was our first trip to London, so for months before we booked our trip I researched many hotels/apartments. A lot of places that I considered had mixed reviews and many who used hotels in London complained about the very small rooms and feeling cramped. That was a big reason why I decided to rent an apartment. Also, the cost of hotels in London is very high; the cost is increased by the UK’s onerous VAT (value added tax) and by the currency exchange rate.
I reserved a 2 bedroom/1 bath apartment for the Collingham on booking.com and got a rate of £280/ night, which is the equivalent of $437.25 in US costs. In America, a hotel charge at over $400/night will get you an excellent place at the best newer hotels.
It’s possible that we were given an apartment that wasn’t all that nice because we weren’t paying their full cost. Several reviewers on tripadvisor.com mentioned that the Collingham gave them an upgrade when they arrived, but I feel like we got a “downgrade”. I communicated with the Collingham staff by email several times before our stay, and requested an apartment on a higher floor and something very clean and updated because my husband and I have mold and dust allergies. They didn’t make any promises, but said they would do their best to get us in something nice. All their emails were answered in a timely manner and were very courteous.
When we arrived after a long overnight flight, we were able to check in a little early, and we were put in Apartment 105. My husband and I were exhausted and ready to relax for a while, but when we entered the apartment we were stunned. The apartment wasn’t up to the standards we were expecting; it was old and tired-looking. The carpet had stains on it, and the curtains at the windows looked like they had been there since 1970; some of the sheers in the living area windows actually had holes in them. There was a red velveteen bedspread on the largest king bed that was coated with dust (and I had mentioned dust allergies in my emails). The floors were extremely creaky, and we could hear other people through the walls/ceilings; there were cracks in some of the ceilings. The furniture was old. The whole place was dingy and run-down. My husband said, “I feel like I just moved back into my cheap college apartment. And to think we’re paying $437 a night for this!”
I walked down to the reception area and told the manager that I wasn’t satisfied and reminded her that I had requested a higher floor because of allergies and something more modern. She said all the apartments were full and nothing else was available. She offered to let us use an air conditioning unit free of charge, but we didn’t need it so we turned that down. As if an AC unit would make me feel better, ha! But beware, folks – this place doesn’t have central AC so if London has a heat wave during the warmer months, the Collingham will only give you a window AC unit and then they will charge you extra for it! The Collingham’s web site had prepared me for the fact that I would have to pay additional costs for telephone usage and Internet access, but to charge extra for an AC unit was something I found astonishing. I gave my husband the news and he said he was too tired to deal with any hassles, so we decided to stay despite our dissatisfaction. In my emails, I had asked for some fans and there were 2 already in the apartment for us, so we tried them and one of them didn’t work, so I requested a different fan and a nice maintenance man brought us another one. I expressed my dismay at the apartment and he said, “The building is very old, you see.” You better believe it!
Although we weren’t happy with our apartment, the staff at the Collingham was very friendly during our stay (except for the manager, who knew I wasn't happy). I think the best thing that the Collingham has to offer is that its location was very good. It’s in South Kensington (a very safe area) and within easy walking distance of restaurants, two tube stations (Gloucester Road & Earl’s Court), and two supermarkets (Sainsbury’s and Waitrose). We went on a few professional tours while we were in London, and the tour buses were able to pick us up in the early mornings at the Millennium Gloucester Hotel on Harrington Gardens, which is an easy walk from the Collingham, only about 2 – 3 blocks.
Some other positives: the apartment’s kitchen was well-stocked; we were able to have our breakfasts there every morning which was timely since we had so many places to see. We had one evening where we heated some frozen dinners in the oven (or “cooker” as they call it). Anyone could do some light cooking in that apartment if they wanted to save on restaurant costs. There was also a laundry room in the basement with two washers and two dryers, and there was no charge to use them. Although the apartment wasn’t up to our standards, the beds were comfortable and the sheets and blankets were good quality. (We didn’t use the red velveteen dust-coated spread, of course.) The apartment became just a place to sleep and the rest of the time we were out sightseeing.
A few more negatives, however ... the apartment we rented needs updating in the worst way – new paint, new carpet, new curtains, and some new furniture. And put some alarm clocks in the apartment – there were none! Since there is no AC, when the weather is warm one is expected one to cool off by opening the windows, but there are no screens on the windows , so a few of those would be nice. Also, replace the knobs on the cooker where the numbers that are supposed to show the temperatures and the timer are rubbed off. Install some towel racks in the bathrooms that won’t fall off the walls if more than one towel is put on it, and install some outlets so that a woman can use a hair dryer and curling iron in the bathroom. Also, include some wash cloths for guests along with the towels – (Brits call them “face cloths”) – which we had to purchase at Sainsbury’s. And, when the weather turns cold, it would be a good idea to turn the steam heat on before 8:00 at night.
I looked at some recent reviews of the Collingham earlier today and noticed that the management posted this in reply to a positive review on April 30: “Collingham Apartments have recently been refurbished to a very high standard designed by a renowned Interior Designer to a quintessentially British Contemporary Design.” Well, we would have enjoyed one of those refurbished apartments immensely and then I could have posted a great review. Obviously, the refurbishing hasn’t made its way to Apartment 105 yet.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- The Collingham is situated in fashionable South Kensington, within easy walking distance of Gloucester Road, South Kensington and Earls Court underground stations. Close to the superb shopping areas of Knightsbridge and Chelsea's Kings Road. All apartments are fully furnished to a high standard. All apartments (except for the studio) have a sofa bed which is suitable for sleeping 1 additional adult or 2 children. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Collingham Serviced Apartments Hotel London
- Collingham Apartments London
- Collingham Apartments Hotel London
- Collingham Serviced Apartments London, England