Craig’s review… I stumped up a bit extra for a “fantastic view of Tower Bridge”, although I wasn’t expecting much. I am the world’s biggest cynic, you see, so I was assuming that I’d just get a little glimpse of a pylon through the trees, or six inches of roadway through a crack in the fence, or something like that, but it’s actually quite a nice view. I can see one whole tower plus the entrance roadway, which is all lined with cabs and vans and buses. I’m not high up enough to see further down the river, though, which is a bit of a shame. They’ve stuck me on the very first floor, with a big air vent outside, and I’ve got a mountain wall of nine floors staring straight down into my room. There are probably about seventy different windows in total, all watching what I’m doing… all laughing and taking photos on their mobiles so they can have a good laugh at the bloke in room 133. That is my No.2 hate in a hotel… having a load of other people staring down into my window. (My No.1 love is when I’m the one doing the staring.)
The building is pretty ugly. It’s not exactly a looker. Check out my photo of the hotel. It looks like a brown brick car park… like one of those places that Prince Charles is always complaining about. On the other side of the road you’ve got Tower Bridge and the Tower of London – a World Heritage Site, no less – and on this side you’ve got a pile of brown breezeblocks.
But the inside is nice. You’ve got all your pretty women lined up behind the desk in their air-hostesses uniforms, all smiling and being nice. And a load of smartly dressed gentlemen to open the doors and press the buttons on the lift (in case you can’t manage it yourself). Then when you get up to the room you’ve got all the usual stuff in there as well: a bed, some carpet, some wallpaper and some lights, etc. And even a smoke alarm in case you accidentally set yourself on fire.
I hate reviewing hotel rooms because what can you say that you haven’t already said a thousand times before? It’s got a door… tick. What about a window? Yeah, tick that as well. Is the mattress a bit lumpy? Are there any hairs in the bath? Are there any rats? No, no and no. Spiders? No. Snakes? No.
I’m getting close to middle age now, so as long as I’ve got a toilet and a TV then I’m happy. When I was younger I used to stay in hotels that had neither. I didn’t have much money so I had to settle for a shared bathroom as well, and had to wander out into the corridor and knock on the door to see if anyone else was using it. If somebody was having a shower then that was it – no bathroom for you for half-an-hour at least. But I was young so didn’t care – it didn’t matter. But these days I have an inviolable checklist of two: I need a TV, and a toilet. And a bath. And a teapot. (Okay, so that’s four.) And a proper lock on the door so I don’t have to wedge a chair against it. (Five.) If I get all of those then I’m happy. Plus a desk and preferably a radio. Apart from those I’m not fussed. (And a restaurant and a bar.)
This room has got a widescreen TV, an iron and ironing board, and some posh bottles of soap and shampoo. The only things that I don’t like are the twelve tea bags they’ve given me… but only four milks. Aaargh! What is the bleedin’ point of that? That’s like ordering a sandwich and only getting one slice of bread. You don’t have to be a genius to see that twelve teabags and four milks don’t go. Maybe they want us to use three teabags per cup? Yeah, that is a good idea… let’s all have a cup of tea so thick and stewed and brewed that we can stand our spoons up in it. And that is not all… because they’ve got a tiny teapot as well. Have you ever heard of such a thing? You have to literally fold the teabag up to fit it inside. You can’t even fit two cups of water in it! So that is basically a complete waste of time – you may as well just make it in the cup. I’m going to open the window and chuck the damn silly teapot in the river… that is how stupid it is. I hate this place.
I’m in the bar now. It looks like one of those wine bar places with pine plank floors and wicker basket seats. The view of Tower Bridge out of the window is quite spectacular, but the coffee costs three quid fifty and comes with a head that’s bigger than my head. It has three-feet of foam on top. That’s the problem with posh places… they serve everything up in an arty way and then clobber you for twice the price.
They have two restaurants at this hotel: The Gallery and The Brasserie. I’m in The Gallery at the moment looking out over St. Katharine Docks. The windows on the other side look out over Tower Bridge. The breakfast bar has got everything you could possibly want: bacon and eggs, beans, sausages, fruit salad, cereals and toast. They’ve got a very weird conveyor belt-like toaster which I’m too scared to use in case I blow it up – it looks a bit like an electric mangle. You feed your bread in one end and it comes out the other side all golden brown.
I quite like the sound of hotel restaurants in the morning. It’s all clink clink clatter clatter as they put the plates out, tourists wandering in half asleep planning what they are going to do with their day. Young couples wracking their brains trying to remember what they did (or didn’t) do last night. City businessmen punching numbers into their phone and letters into their laptop (do they really start work at 7 in the morning?). Pretty waitresses running around being as nice and polite. That is my favourite thing about hotels, I reckon – everyone is very nice to you because in my real life it is the total opposite, but when you walk through the hotel lobby all of a sudden everybody knows you and wants to say hello. Obviously they are all being paid to do that and wouldn’t give a toss if you dropped down dead, but hey, it’s nice to pretend.
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
Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk and more