Premier Inn Hotel (Leicester Square) 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 something like that -- not in some pokey little 3-star place with two tea bags and a soap pump on the wall.
There are quite a few Premier Inn hotels in London, but I plumped for the most central one -- in Leicester Square. It's about ten steps from the central square, right behind the Empire cinema -- so you couldn't get much more central if you tried. At the other end of the road is Lisle Street, which is in the heart of London's Chinatown. At the moment Chinatown is all decked out in red lanterns strung across the street -- I think they must be celebrating something. So if you want somewhere cheap and cheerful in the middle of the West End then the Premier Inn is a pretty good deal. In fact, I would go so far as to recommend it, if that's your budget.
I'm too old to be staying in 3-stars though. I am past having a power shower in a stand-up coffin. I need a bath for my knees. They haven't got a bath because the rooms are too small. And I need a teapot too -- at least they have got one of those. They've got a TV and a waste paper basket as well, but that's about it. And a Gideon's Bible, of course. But there's not a lot of room left to fit in anything else. Even the ceiling is a lot lower than usual, so they can cram another floor on top.
The hotel is a bit like Fort Knox inside. When you step inside the front door there is nothing there. No reception desk, no rooms, no people to meet you -- nothing. All they've got is a sign which 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 go 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 in case of emergencies, so he can come along and rescue us.
But it's alright. I'm not complaining. I'd happily stay here for a few days. I thought it was a bit cheeky of them charging for WiFi access though. Even McDonald's offer free WiFi, and you don't even have to buy one of their cheeseburgers. I wonder if Lenny Henry has to pay for his WiFi? And it's rubbish too: it keeps dropping out every five minutes -- presumably because everybody in the hotel is using it at the same time.
I've just noticed that there's a big picture of Lenny in my room, grinning at me from the desk. He's all curled up in bed with a big smile on his face. Underneath his sunny mug it says: "A great night's sleep guaranteed". I wonder what that means? If I have a nightmare tonight does that mean I'll get my money back? 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 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 bar now. No sign of Lenny Henry anywhere. This place doubles up as the restaurant and breakfast room, and it's quite dim and dark and cosy -- I like dark places. The breakfast is just your usual help-yourself fry-up with bacon and eggs and baked beans, with some cereals and rolls too. 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. I'm not doing the washing up though.
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