Craig’s review… There’s no way that Lenny Henry stays at the Premier Inn. He’s been on the telly advertising it for the past year or two, having a snooze in their beds and sipping coffee in their bar, but come on: who do they think they are kidding? He’s a TV star for chrissakes so he stays at The Ritz or The Dorchester or The Savoy – not in a pokey little 3-star.
There are quite a few Premier Inns but I plumped for the most central one in Leicester Square (you couldn’t get any more central if you tried). If you want somewhere cheap and cheerful in the middle of the West End then the Premier Inn is a pretty good deal.
I’m too old to be staying in 3-stars though. My days of having a power shower in a stand-up coffin are long gone – I need a bath for my knees. But they haven’t got a bath because the rooms are too small. And I need a teapot as well – at least they’ve got one of those. They’ve also got a TV and a Gideon’s Bible, but that’s about it. There’s not a lot of room left to squeeze in anything else. Even the ceiling is a lot lower than usual, so they can cram in another floor on top.
The hotel is a bit like Fort Knox inside. When you step inside the front door there is nothing there. Literally. There’s no reception desk, no rooms, no people to meet you – nothing. All they’ve got is a sign that says go to the second floor. That’s where you’ll find the restaurant and the receptionist, who will issue you with a swipe card to get anywhere else. It’s a bit like having a military pass into the restricted areas. If you want to go down the hall then you have to open the fire doors with your swipe card. If you want to use the lift… swipe card. Turn the lights on in your room? Swipe card. Watch the telly? Swipe card. Enter the hotel after 10 o’clock? Swipe card. Want to blow your nose? Swipe card. I couldn’t get the darn thing to work the first couple of times I tried it and I had to wipe it on my sleeve to bring it to life. I’m sure a lot of people must get locked behind the doors with no hope of escape, simply because their card won’t work. They stand trapped between a glass door and an unresponsive lift, pounding on the buttons to no effect. Help me! Help me someone! My card doesn’t work! What they should do is issue everyone with Lenny Henry’s home phone number so he can come along and rescue us.
But it’s okay. I’m not complaining. I actually quite like this hotel and I’d happily stay here for a few days. I think it’s a bit cheeky of them charging extra for Wi-Fi access, though. Even McDonald’s offer free Wi-Fi. I wonder if Lenny Henry has to pay for his Wi-Fi? I’ve just noticed that there’s a big advert of Lenny in my room. He’s curled up in bed, grinning at me. “A great night’s sleep guaranteed,” it says. I wonder what that means? In the small print it says: “No questions, no quibbles… We’re so confident that you’ll have a great night’s sleep that if, for any reason, you don’t, we’ll give you your money back”. So the first thing I’m going to do in the morning is march downstairs and test that out. “No questions, it says here,” I will say, jabbing my fingers at the small print. I want my money back and I’m not answering any questions! I am exercising my right to silence – as per the terms on your Lenny Henry manifesto. If they refuse to pay up then I will demand they get Mr Lenny Henry on the phone to sort it out.
I’m in the restaurant now, which is quite dim and dark and cosy. No sign of Lenny Henry anywhere. The breakfast is just your usual help-yourself fry-up with bacon and eggs and baked beans, with some cereals and rolls. I don’t usually eat breakfast at home but I can’t help myself in a hotel. When someone has gone to all that trouble of cooking it, the least you can do is eat it.
London: A Visitor’s Guide
Have you seen our guidebook? We take you inside the hotels, sleep in the rooms, eat in the restaurants, and then tell you all about it
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