I visited London for the first time from September 6th to September 11th this year. I’ll be writing a few posts about this trip, and I first want to share my experience staying at a Travelodge hotel, something we hadn’t done before. Specifically, we stayed at the Travelodge London Central Waterloo Hotel.
We made our reservation months ago and got it for a very decent price considering its location is relatively centric and close to the Waterloo station, so you can get to most interesting locations in the city by metro in, say, 15 minutes.
Now, I’m pretty sure we won’t be staying at any other Travelodge hotel in the future, for several reasons. If you read the Travelodge website about their raison d'être, you’ll see they’re intended to be cheap hotels centered around providing the best experience based on what most people use hotels for. This means providing guests a nice and comfortable bed in a clean room, with a clean and practical bathroom too.
Don’t get me wrong, they got that totally right. It’s only that we arrived with the impression that, by centering on the basics, we’d get a similar experience as in any other hotel, but at a reduced price. The quality/cost ratio would be better.
Yet our stay was splattered here and there with small details we didn’t quite like. None of those is by any means a deal breaker or really important. But, together, one after another, contribute to having a worse experience compared to other hotels. So, in the end, you feel like you paid slightly less and got slightly less instead of the I-feel-clever sensation of paying slightly less and having the same. I’ll give you some specific details:
The room lacked air conditioning and some days it was a bit hot. They only provide a fan.
The mattress was really comfortable, but the only bed clothing was the advertised cozy quilt. That was simply too hot even when the outside temperature didn’t surpass 10-13ºC.
The room was not small but it really lacked storage space. You’re only given a table, a chair, some hangers and a shelf which is partly used to store clean towels already. At least, a couple more shelves would’ve been really useful.
Hairdryers. Oh, where to start. For staying 5 nights and visiting a city, checking in a big suitcase is overkill, so we traveled with two within-the-limits hand luggage bags. I don’t use hairdryers but my wife does. They’re big and heavy for hand luggage, so we decided to leave our hairdryer at home. Travelodge says hairdryers are not provided for each room, but they’re available in a first come, first served basis. Out of the three times we asked for a hairdryer, we only got it once. We even saw another guest had simply decided to buy one and stop worrying. You really need to bring your own. Don’t expect hairdryers to be available when you need them.
There is no phone in the rooms. This means for any doubt or question you have about your stay, you need to go down to reception or remember the question for later. Say it’s early in the morning and you want to know if hairdryers are available. You can’t call reception to ask and not bother if they’re all in use. Or ask them to reserve one for you while you come down.
The breakfast buffet features first-class brands and machines but falls a bit short in unusual ways. There is no sweet fruit, for example. Only bitter orange and grapefruit. The coffee machine lacked a “hot milk” button. The juice dispenser served juice so watered down than it tasted more like water than juice.
Like I say, none of those is a real deal-breaker, but they all contribute to a worse than average experience for a 3-stars hotel. So I got the impression it’s better to pay a few more tens of euros a night and get a better experience, or maybe trying to find a nice discount in another hotel, so you’ll really get the same for less.