As soon as I arrived at the Travelodge Covent Garden I knew I wouldn't like it. It took me approximately five seconds to decide that I'm never coming back here ever again. It looks like an ugly concrete office block... like a 1960s tower block. The kind of residential tower block that always has kicked over dustbins, a busted lift and stinks of p|ss (it doesn't -- but that is the first thought that entered my head).
When you walk through the door it gets even uglier -- like a student union office and bar. It took me ten minutes to check-in and then I tried to go upstairs and the stupid keycard wouldn't work (you have to use a pass card to get to the lift). So I trooped back to reception and she fixed that, and then I went upstairs again and discovered that she hadn't given me a Wi-Fi code either, so back down I went and she sorted that out. And when I finally had a look around the room I found it to be darker than dark. Of all the hotel rooms that I've stayed in during my life, this one is totally unique in that when you open the curtains, absolutely nothing changes. It is still the same gloomy room it was before. It is 3.30 PM at the moment and it is too dark to read without switching on the light.
I hate this place already and I've only been here thirty minutes. I wonder how many people have passed through this miserable room in the past twelve months? We were all lying here watching the car lights creep across the ceiling. I think I might go and sleep under a bridge instead. I'll find the nearest homeless guy and offer to swap places with him and he'll say: "What, at the Travelodge? Are you having a laugh?"
I was staying at the Ibis earlier this week (another 3-star hotel) and a Premier Inn before that so I know exactly what a decent 3-star is like. The only saving grace is that I'm here to do a review so I don't really care if it's rubbish, because at least that gives me something to write about.
I suppose I'd better do my duty and tell you about the facilities, in case you actually want to come here. The bathroom has got a shower in it (no bath) and a towel... which reminds me... have you ever seen those signs they put up in hotel bathrooms saying "Help save the planet by not washing your towel every day. We will only wash your towel if you leave it on the floor." Well that annoys me as well (everything is annoying me now). We're not idiots! Everybody knows that has got sod all to do with saving the planet, and more to do with keeping their laundry bill down. They just slap all of that eco nonsense on there to guilt trip us into doing it. Well I'm not falling for it this time... I'm sticking the whole damn lot on the floor: the towels, the bedsheets, the pillow cases, the curtains... make them wash the lot.
You get a TV with a lousy choice of channels. There's no Sky News. They don't even bother to give you the Freeview channels like Dave. And there's no way of bringing the time up either (so no wake-up alarms). Now I know why rock stars throw their TVs out of hotel windows -- it's because they stayed at a Travelodge.
You get a waste paper bin. You get a chair. You get a mirror. You get a kettle with four milks and two teabags. You get a fan. That's it. You don't even get a bedside table! The nearest table is the desk -- five feet away. So if you want a cup of tea or a can of Coke or something, your only option is to balance it on your head.
What else don't I like about this place? (I'm just trying to find different things to moan about now because I'm in a bad mood.) This picture is crooked. This coat hangar is bent. I don't like the colour of the carpet. This drawer is a bit stiff. It's raining outside.
The restaurant reminds me of a staff canteen. I used to work nightshifts at Sainsburys and we came down at 2 AM for a cup of tea -- this is a bit like that. The place has got plastic chairs and tea urns and a big metal serving desk full of dried scrambled eggs which are starting to turn up at the edges from where they've been sitting under the hot lights too long. They do beans and bacon and sausages too, and bread and cereals.
The only decent thing about this hotel is its location, because it's ten seconds from the top end of Shaftesbury Avenue. Covent Garden is about five minutes away, and you are within easy walking distance of Piccadilly Circus and Leicester Square. It's also right nextdoor to my favourite shop in London: Forbidden Planet (geek megastore -- sells a lot of Star Wars stuff).
Have you been here? Are you going? Got any questions?
Yes I have stayed here. Several times. And in it's sister across the road in High Holborn because when you book you never know which one you are going to get. One booking - two hotels. Of the two I prefer the other one for easier access with the lifts whereas the Drury Lane one starts badly with a great big flight of stairs up which I have to drag my suitcase and, if you are unlucky, you get the area you (and we) were in which is a basement and quite a performance to access. BUT the saving grace is the location and if you book early it's cheap for the area. I just look at it as a clean place to sleep with good beds in the middle of London and we can go to that FANTASTIC Indian restaurant round the corner and maybe see War Horse at the theatre just up the road fifty yards!
From the author: “The good thing about this book is that I have genuinely been to all of these places myself. And I don’t just regurgitate the same old spiel that you find in 95% of guidebooks. It’s not the kind of book where I just tell you the address, how much it costs, and leave it at that. I have explored every single one of these attractions myself. You’ll find info about opening times, prices, the recommended time required at each attraction, example itineraries, a guide to using the buses and trains… and plenty more.”