For our recent trip to London, the accommodation was complimentary, courtesy of Premier Inn. The County Hall hotel is one of the group’s finer hotels and it’s not hard to see why when you consider the location, right next to the London Eye. We found it ideally placed for walking into the West End in the evening: a short stroll over Hungerford Bridge to reach Northumberland Avenue and Trafalgar Square. The walk back is even quicker if you’ve seen a good show: I was fairly skipping along after Singin’ in the Rain. The only time I stood still was to gaze over the river towards the London Eye and the Houses of Parliament lit up at night; quite breathtaking.
If you need to use public transport, the Premier Inn, County Hall, is very near to Waterloo, Westminster and Embankment underground stations but we walked to most attractions from the hotel.
Check-in was both speedy and quite novel with special self-service machines. However the personal touch was still there as very helpful, friendly staff were in the vicinity to guide us through the procedure. The lifts were nearby to take us to the third floor. At first I thought they were extraordinarily slow until another guest came along and knowledgeably popped his keycard into the slot, which called the lift. Yeah, I knew that.
Our double room was very spacious for a London hotel and was spotlessly clean. More often than not hotels let themselves down with dusty skirting boards or little patches of mould in the bathroom. I couldn’t fault this place. Granted it has a corporate look about it so is missing the touches of individualism that can make a room special. It may not have sex appeal but the sensible lack of flounces and dusty bedcovers at least meant Dougie didn’t start sneezing as he is prone to do when there is too much boudoir bedding.
My favourite bit of the room was the area which housed the TV, kettle, safe and wardrobe. The hangers would have been easier to use if they had been turned 90 degrees but full marks to Premier Inn for providing a hair dryer next to a mirror and with an extra socket for straighteners. How many times have I been faced with a hair dryer fixed to the inside of a drawer with a flex too short to reach a mirror? And another gold star for providing hair dryers which don’t need me to constantly keep my finger on the ‘on’ button. It’s the little things….
Other facilities in the room included 30 minutes free WiFi a day or a fixed amount of £3 for 24 hour provision. Dougie loved the fact that the room was properly lit with a decent ceiling fitting; saved wandering around at night doing that interminable flicking switches routine. The shower was great: powerful, hot and didn’t water the whole bathroom. The toiletries were in large dispensers: impossible to sneak off with but far easier to use.
Food? Breakfast was relaxed on the Friday morning but a bit frenetic on the Saturday. It must be quite frustrating for hotel staff when everyone turns up together at 9am. The staff here were constantly on the ball, finding extra tables and keeping food stocked up. An all-you-can-eat buffet was £8.50 and children eat free. (children under 16 can also stay free of charge in the family rooms). We tried the dining room in the evening and it was an attractive room with very attentive staff. The food was reasonably priced, with plenty of meal deals such as two courses for £12.50. The quality of the food was a little hit and miss: Dougie’s steak was a bit tough but my chicken fajitas were gorgeous: over all, decent fuel after a long day sightseeing.
Although Premier Inn pride themselves on providing reasonably-priced accommodation, it’s worth remembering that this hotel is in a prime spot and therefore not a £29 a night hotel. Saver rates are available from around £99 and our room, for the time we booked it, would have cost an average of £139 a night. This is still a good price for the location and it is certainly worth considering, especially for a family.
Premier Inn have a Good Night Guarantee: you are promised a good night’s sleep or your money back. Damn it. We did have a good night’s sleep, thanks to the comfy bed and the solid construction of the hotel – no creaking corridors or slammed doors. Dougie did snore a bit. Do you think that would have counted?