Good God our hotel was horrible.
I wanted to switch, but by the time we arrived after a 14 hour flight and transferring from tube stop to tube stop, I didn’t have it in me to go looking for a new one. I figured it was only a place to sleep after all.
Our hotel was located in the Bayswater area which is more residential and about a 5-10 minute walk from the Paddington tube station. This area was pretty far from most tourist sights except for the Royal Albert Hall which you could walk to via Hyde Park. The area surrounding the hotel was charming. The reviews online were great, which I still can’t understand, because the hotel was by far the worst I’ve stayed in Europe.
The hotel was ran by young adult middle eastern folks and upon entering the lobby you almost fell over from the heat mixed in with the reek of incense that they had burning in huge pots in the lobby. Strange, but not necessarily bad. Other than the odd smell, the lobby and hotel restaurant seemed nice enough. The worst part came after getting off of the elevator into the claustrophobic hallways.
Now I have been in many European hotels, so I am used to their smallness, but holy crap, these halls were so narrow it was hard to get our luggage through them! Along with the narrowness, they were disgusting dirty. The carpets were filthy and faded to the point they just needed to be completely ripped out and replaced. The lower part of the wall had some weird mesh cloth on them that was ripped and peeling off. The walls were dirty and needed to be repainted.
Other than the expected small size of the room, although smaller than most average rooms in Europe, it was a little better. The room had wood floors which saved it from looking like the nasty hallway, but the bathroom could have passed as a small outhouse. The floor looked like what is used in gym locker rooms and the sink was ridiculously small with nowhere to sit your toiletries. The corners of the bathroom were fifthly and the beds were pretty uncomfortable as well.
Again, I need to remind you that I have been in many European hotels that have never bothered me. I can handle tiny; hell I can even handle not clean. I am not a clean or germ freak in any way. But I can’t handle non-functional or filthy. Still, you surprise yourself on what you can handle when you are out of your element, comfort zone, and lacking sleep. For someone who hates flying over sees as much as I do, anything looks good at the end of it. So needless to say, we stayed. Despite the negatives of the hotel, the view from our window was lovely, capturing the charm of the outside surrounding area.
After settling into our hotel, it was evening and time to find a place to eat and wonder around a bit before passing out for the night. We ended up walking through the huge Hyde Park and ran into the grand Royal Albert Hall on the other side. It was dark now as we walked further past trying to find a place to eat. It was pretty quiet, and we soon realized we were in the University area. The buildings were grand and beautiful- I would have never guessed it was a university until I started reading the titles above the entrances of the buildings. There was hardly anyone around at all, except a student here and there. We walked further and after giving up on our search for a traditional English pub, we found an Italian restaurant that was good enough.
This ended our first day in London.
And further …
If there is anything I’ve learned from my London hotel experience, it’s that no matter how many reviews you read or how much time, energy and research you spend on your little laptop back at home, you will NEVER truly know what to fully expect until you actually get there. Don’t make yourself crazy trying to find the perfect hotel. Be flexible and perhaps willing to grab a hotel when you get there. Hotels are everywhere and many are similarly priced in the same areas. Do general research and then just go with it. It’s actually kinda fun. If I hadn’t already booked and paid for an entire week for our London hotel months prior, there is no way I would have stayed.
Also, if you don’t pre-book you have the flexibility to leave the city early for your next stop or stay longer if you decide you want to do more things. Don’t restrict yourself. You’re trip is expensive and you should be comfortable. But again, sometimes a lemon is all part of the experience, so don’t let it ruin your trip. Just go with it. Things never turn out perfectly. The only way to know what your truly getting is to actually pick it when you get there. Pop into 2 or 3 places in the area you are most interested in and have them explain their prices and show you a room. It is worth it in the end.