Continuing my re-read of the Pratchett oeuvre...Monstrous Regiment and Going Postal add a few more of the pence per page to my commitment to the Alzheimers fund...both already reviewed on here. Seek them out if you've not already read and rated.
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This'll Do for Euston
Location, lives up to the billing
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Staying in London is something that one sometimes choses to do (i.e. for fun), sometimes is required to do (i.e. for business) or sometimes does because, well, it's just the easiest option given the combination of places you need to be at different times (which could either be fun or business or a mixture of both).
Obviously "why" you're there might well impact on where you choose to stay. Whether it's business or pleasure might well determine how much you're willing to pay, for instance. And just in case the boss reads this I will just underline that I pay more for myself than I could justify on the business account.
When I'm in London on business, either because the business itself is in London, or because it's a decent breakpoint between somewhere and elsewhere, then apart from getting the best price for a reasonable level of comfort, the main determinant is location. There's no point saving on the room rate, if I'm going to spend the difference in time or tube fares travelling around the city.
The somewhere that first brought me to Thistle Euston was the south coast and the elsewhere was Coventry. Leaving Portsmouth after a long day, I wasn't thrilled with the idea of making it all the way up to Coventry in one hit, but still had to be there for a 9.30 meeting. Getting a good deal on the advance rail fare, meant I could justify the break-out in London on the way up. Needing to me on an early train out, meant I needed to be close to Euston station.
I started with my trusty Premier Inn search, but there was nothing-doing at Euston or Kings Cross branches, so thence to our agency site (who, for the record, are aware that we exclude Premier on a separate business account) to see if they could do anything… Thistle Euston was the offer.
I have now stayed there a few times, usually when I need an early head-out from Euston station. I wouldn't choose it for a leisure stop-over, but on the business run, provided I can get a good rate (not always available even through the agents) then it's now my first choice.
For the public-transport-dependent business traveller location is everything. Not only do you not want to be wasting money on commuting to the hotel by you (that is to say, I!) don't want to be spending any more time travelling
than is actually necessary. Train-time is productive time, one way or another, but faffing about between station and hotel… that I can live without. So if the aim of the exercise is either to get off a train and into a hotel, or conversely to get out of a hotel and onto a train, then ideally the hotel needs to be near the train concerned.
Thistle Euston does just that. It is hard-by the station. In fact, if you could just cut across the tracks rather than having to walk the length of the platform, out through the concourse, and then effectively back-track the length of the platform, it'd be about three minutes from where you got off. As it is… allow for a ten minute stroll, just to avoid get frazzled by people getting in your way and falling over your luggage. The address is: Thistle Euston, Cardington Street, London, NW1 2LP.
As you exit Euston Station via the main concourse onto the (well let's be polite and call it a) plaza, with all of the eateries in front of you, turn immediately right and head towards the road. Ignore the fact that it says Melton Street and again turn immediately right, so that you are walking alongside the station wall. Pass the Ibis hotel on your left, then just beyond the greenery of St James Gardens (definitely not to be confused with St James Park) you'll see the corner of the Thistle hotel.
Ok, architecturally it isn't the most inspiring place you're ever going to stay in the City. But to be fair, given the wreck they made of the once glorious Euston, it's not like the place has much to live up to. It does have a touch of the 1970s cold-war-brutal-chic about it – but the windows are big! And it's not like we're going to sit outside and look at it.
The lobby is large an open, with lots of seating and a large screen TV, usually set to the news channel. There is a concierge desk and a bank of individual reception desks. I say "desks". Podia, might be a better word. How many of these are actually manned does seem to depend upon how busy they expect to be, or maybe, how busy they actually are. I've never seen more than two bookers on duty at a time, but then, I've never been more than one back in a queue either.
On all occasions my reservation has been ready to hand, engagement with the customer has been on the friendly side of polite (rather than overly chit-chatty which I can find irritating at the end of a travel-stressed day). The usual information – breakfast, check-out time, location of the bar/restaurant etc – is provided efficiently, key card handed over, directions to the lift provided and the now-increasingly-rare enquiry regarding help needed with luggage.
I've stayed in both single and double rooms here. Stylistically they're much the same, so I won't bore with repetition but will focus on the single. Scale up and add some for the double.
Single rooms tend to come as something of a shock these days. Most hotels seem to be phasing them out, but I guess in places like London where 'footprint' is expensive, they still make some kind of business sense.
The room has everything that you might want, other than space, and is subtly decorated to emphasise lightness and underplay any sense of claustrophobia. Plain walls in cream and pale mustard, with just a single print to break up the blandness.
Woodwork (doors, desk and bedside cabinet) is of a deep blonde oak colour, picked out with darker beading. Unusually for such a small room, there is a built-in wardrobe – though hanging space is obviously limited.
The long desk has a proper office chair – just in case you haven't already done enough today – or because it's probably more comfortable than the alternative club variety that seems obligatory in hotel rooms. Let's face it, who spends any time in their room anyway, unless they're crashed out in bed watching TV.
Ah yeah, that's not exactly possible. To watch TV you have to sit on the bed, rather than crash out in it. Not a major disaster, obviously, but part of the price you pay for singledom – but at least they offer the full Freeview menu of channels.
The bed itself was elegantly presented. Plain white linen, leaf-pattern runner in blue and fawn, edged in chocolate brown with cushions to accentuate the colour scheme.
A wall-wide window made for early morning daylight (with heavy curtains if you didn't want it). Annoyingly they are safe windows that you can barely open. On the other hand you need to be aware that if you're unlucky enough to be road-side you will hear the trains early and late. That's
Pictures of Thistle Euston, London
Architecturally uninspiring - Thistle Euston
the price you pay for being next to the track obviously, but you'd be amazed how many people then complain about it. The windows are multi-glazed and quite efficient at blocking out the sound if you keep them closed.
The bathroom did everything you'd need it to do. Bath, power shower, basin and loo. Compact in the extreme, but fully fitted out, including another endangered species the heated towel rail. Big plus for me in any hotel: large fluffy towels and that shower – I'm very forgiving once I've indulged in washing the day away. Thistle toiletries do what they say on the pack, but aren't anything to write home about.
Out of the shower and into bed… if you're used to a single bed and/or you don't thrash around as much as I seem to some nights, I'm sure it'd be fine. I did crack my knee on the wall a couple of times. (Don’t ask!) In every other respect it was really comfortable – and obviously this problem doesn't arise in the double rooms! Despite feeling a little confined in the single, I have always slept reasonable well.
Free wifi is available throughout the hotel.
There is a brasserie on the lower ground floor, but not having eaten-in, I can't offer an opinion.
24-hour room service is offered in the rooms, but on the one occasion that I was tempted to order, I have to confess that I took one look at the prices and decided the boss would thank me for taking a stroll back to the station eateries instead. I think I opted for M&S take-out on that occasion.
I'm afraid I can't even vouch for breakfast as staying here usually means I'm on the 7 o'clock train and looking to eat en route.
Nothing to be said – it's always been smooth and hassle-free. There is a left-luggage facility, as you'd expect. This is separately handled by the concierge, so there's no fear of getting caught up in the check-in queue when you come back to collect your bags.
This is London. It depends what you're looking for, where you need to be and how much you're willing to pay. On a quick Thistle-website check booking a week ahead you'd be looking at £200 for a double room, £150(ish) for a single. Try the booking websites and you'll get a little off that – but for a four-star in London, this is about the going rate.
For me, when I can justify the stopover cost-wise, it works really well – but I have to caveat that with the fact that we are operating on centrally negotiated rates which might be better than available to the public at large.