So I had the pleasure of arriving in London, after flying for 14 hours, at the most awkward of times. Late evening. Yes I know that there is plenty of public transport and such things in England run late and so forth. But who is rude enough to tell friends that they will arrive at their place at 11:30 in the evening expecting a late dinner and a bed for the night. That’s what hotels are for. So a quick stroll through the inter-webs and I had a booking for the Novotel. I have to say that I have stayed at the Novotel in South East Asia and so I had expectations going in.
Hotel rooms are always nice places for me. I like the fact that he bed is made the sheets clean and the bathroom sparkling. I like these things because at home it is my job to make them that way and I hate those chores. So when I arrive at a hotel I want clean sheets on a bed that easily supports my 6ft frame without my feet hanging of the end. I have tried sleeping diagonally but no matter how many times that tell you its a Queen double it isn’t if I don’t fit. Clean sheets, big bed, check. Bathroom is clean and there are no mold bits or wet patches, check.
Now we get onto the other bits. Is the place a shoe box? No. Is there a fridge with things in it? Yes. Is there bottled water there for free? No. Is the room well laid out? Ok. Is there space? Yes. Can I put my suitcase on something? Yes. Is the desk usable for work? Ok. Is there a weird smell? No. But the biggest question I always have is, where are the power points? I travel on business. I want power points in two key places. Next to the desk so I can charge my laptop overnight and next to the night table so I can do the same with my phone whilst I use it lying in bed. I absolutely hate crawling under this, fishing behind that, or some loose connection on a random piece of furniture like a picture frame. I don’t like small spaces where I have to jam in my international adapter and I really don’t like having prop it on ten things because the power point is loose. But no Lastly and perhaps almost as important as the power. Do you have free, good quality internet access? Check.
Room, Bed and in room Facilities – 4 star
Half of the experience of hotels is the service you receive from the staff. I had the pleasure of being greeted served by a few polite ladies. One of whom was from Poland and spoke good English with limited accent. The check in and out experience was efficient and short which is always appreciated. Unfortunately this good experience was let down by the serving staff in the restaurant who managed to get my order wrong. I will give them that my accent may be somewhat hard to understand but when you point to the item in the menu and the server leans over to look there is no excuse. What can I say that right there is a 100 point down grade.
Staff, service and checking out and in – 4 stars
I took the breakfast package as part of my stay. From an economics point of view these things are hard to judge as the cost of food is so different in different countries. Consequently I can really only go with a general feeling of ripped off or not. But let me start by saying that what was advertised as a “Buffet English Breakfast” was actually pretty good. I would perhaps quibble about the term “English Breakfast” in any meal that contains hash browns or any form of cereal as both of those items are, by origin, American. Additionally the presence of things like baguettes, cheese and salami would also seem to make the term “English” redundant. That being said the food itself was good. A buffet with three types of eggs on offer is not as common as people would like. The relatively grease less state of the hash browns was good. Food wasn’t destroyed by the warmers and the selection of food both hot and cold was wide and well prepared. There wasn’t the selection of juices you see in south America or south east Asia but receiving good black tea in a pot was a pleasant surprise. No Earl Grey this, some other country “breakfast” that , just good tea. All in all one of the best buffet breakfasts I have had the please of having.
Unfortunately the good work done by the morning meal was something of a contrast to the meal I had the night before. I cannot say that the food was bad but things were more “frayed at the edges”. For example I understand that this is England and not the US but if you have buffalo wings on the menu that are not at all spicy then you don’t know what buffalo wings should be. They were nice but the coating was more sweet than spicy. The blue cheese sauce that came with it was also disappointing. It was also sweetly flavoured but did not resemble blue cheese. For the mains I ordered a tomato based pasta dish and though it came with Parmesan cheese which did not melt the note of the dish was poor due to the rather watery tomato sauce. They issue a free drink voucher on check in but quibble that it is not for a GBP 5 name brand drink but only for a GBP 3 house brand drink, something you need a magnifying glass to read on the voucher. I understand the cost implications but this just detracts from the otherwise positive experience of receiving a free drink. Either pitch in for the free drink or don’t. This just creates angst with the clients.
In a nutshell the food was a mixed bag and except that the hotel is so far from anything else in future I might give the dinner a miss in future. Breakfast though was well worth the extra few pounds.
About entertainment. There was none. It’s a Sunday night so nothing expected.
Food, beverages and entertainment – 4 stars
I took the time to have a quick swim on arrival as I needed to stretch something. The pool was heavily chlorinated which is something I both appreciate and dislike. Not interested in getting lots of bugs but I also don’t fancy having my eyes dissolved.
There is nothing to do near the hotel and there is nowhere to go without a car so if you have expectations of a fun night out this is not the place to stay. But realistically this Hotel is there for those like I who have just flown in. When all is said an done. This hotel is not nirvana but as a stop after 23 hours of travel it was everything I needed it to be.
Hotel score: 4 stars