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Back in January of this year, me and my sister decided a trip to London was in order for the weekend. We managed to secure some pretty cheap BA flights (complimentary drink on board for the win!) on the Fri morning and Sunday evening, but with just over a week to go, we still needed to track down some accommodation. But where?
Unfortunately both me and my sister have pretty basic knowledge of London. I’ve only ever went with work, and so only know a few parts of it, which makes it hard to know, when searching online, what is central and what is going to involve a hell of a lot of travelling. And I’m not a massive fan of public transport. I started looking for cheap hotels within the Camden/Kings Cross area as that’s one of the few areas I actually know . . . and I managed to track down the Welcome Inn for 105 pounds for two nights for both of us.
To be honest, it was hard to tell from the pictures what the hotel actually looked like overall and whether it was a big hotel or not. But we figured we wouldn’t be spending a lot of time in the hotel anyway so it would be okay either way as a base, even if it was horrendous. And so it was booked.
Cue the following Friday… we arrived at Gatwick airport and headed towards our hotel (luckily my sister is better than me at navigating the subway – if left to my own devices I would probably end up on an overground train to Brighton or something like that!) which appeared to be nearest to Russell
Square, one stop before Kings Cross. It was a relatively easy trip across town after we got to Victoria with only one change, and the hotel itself was less than a five minute walk from the subway stop. Despite the fact the hotel claimed to be in Kings Cross, Camden AND Euston, depending on what website you looked it up on, it actually turned out to be in Bloomsbury, I was informed by a friend of mine who lived there. It was a nice area, with a shopping centre called the Brunswick which hosted lots of high street shops and some nice chain eateries, and the street opposite the Bloomsbury also had some nice looking cafes and restaurants.
The hotel itself was . . . surprisingly small from the outside. In fact, we nearly walked past it. Upon entering, we had no idea where to go – we couldn’t see a reception – it just looked like a big house. Luckily a woman appeared straight away and led us up a flight of stairs to “reception” – which was basically a room at the top of the first lot of stairs with an open door and a counter across it. I had to pay for the hotel at that point – I had given my details online but this was basically to “hold” the room for us, and we were told we could leave our stuff if we wished as our room wasn’t going to be ready until 1. We went for a wander, but I was nervous about leaving our stuff, as their “luggage storage facility” turned out to be “the foot of the stairs next to the easily accessible front door”. So we came back at the first opportunity and were able to gain access to our room.
The room itself was on the third floor (there was only one other room up there) and it was small but nice. It felt a bit like being in an attic. The bathroom and shower room were separate rooms, but right next to each other, and we had a limited amount of storage space. I don’t think the space could have accommodated us for a week’s stay but for two nights we had just enough room for the two of us. The room was very warm too, especially considering how cold it was outside, so this was welcomed. I don’t know if this was anything to do with the fact that we were on the top floor, but it certainly wasn’t a problem for us!
My one bugbear was that no glasses were supplied, so we had to drink our bottles of cava out of mugs. Doesn’t make one feel very classy. We had a kettle and also a hairdryer (a pretty good one at that!) – oh, and the hotel has free wi-fi too. My sister had problems with it on her phone, but it worked fine for me, so I think that was just HER issue really! I’m a sucker for free wi-fi though – my sister actually thought that’s why I had booked it, but I hadn’t actually realised that the hotel had it until we got there!
It was definitely a good base for being able to get out and about in London, once we managed to get out of the bed (which was very comfy). The only issue with coming and going as we pleased (which we could do – they’d supplied us with a key for the front door, although everytime we left there was always someone on reception as we passed anyway) was that the stairs were really creaky which made creeping in late a bit difficult. Although, the main problem we had there was on the first night, when walking down the stairs to go out for some dinner at around 9pm, when a guy appeared at his door on the floor below us because he thought “someone was knocking on my door!”. That made us a wee bit paranoid, but we didn’t stay out too late anyway as neither of us are massive party animals.
The staff were very friendly, although I get the impression there were only a few and they did everything between them, but since our room was ready on time when we arrived, there was always someone around reception, and our room was cleaned efficiently too, this didn’t seem to be a problem at all. I think getting a room for that price for 2 nights in central London was a pretty good achievement, and although the hotel is a wee bit basic, it was still a bargain despite this.
It may not be as amazing or well-equipped as the Novotel-type chain hotels I’m used to staying in on my London work trips, but it provided us with exactly what we wanted for a great price and we weren’t disappointed with it. If you were going for a romantic weekend, it might not be for you, but if it’s just a trip down for some shopping and drinking with friends and family, then it’s the ideal place to stay!