When Ibis invited Flush The Fashion to stay at three of their flagship London properties over the course of three nights, it seemed like a good way to discover the alternative personalities of their reinvigorated brand, not to mention seeing a bit more of old London town in the process.
And the first stop is…
Day 1 – ibis budget London Whitechapel
These days not many parts of London can claim to be as diverse and culturally exciting as Whitechapel and its surrounding neighbourhood. From great food, to fine art there is lots to discover and the place is positively buzzing.
ibis budget London Whitechapel does exactly what it says on the tin, if you book in advance you can grab either a twin or double room from just over £60, not far off what you’d pay for a bunk bed next to half a dozen sweaty backpackers (and their socks) elsewhere in the capital.
The room is fairly compact and the bed isn’t huge, but it’s spotless clean, the decor is light and modern and you get a flat screen TV, a full-blast power shower and free Wi-Fi included with the price. Peak breakfast times can get busy and it’s no frills with pastries, cereals, coffee, juice and toast and is £4.95 extra.
For other times of the day there is coffee and vending machines stocked with essentials next to the reception on the first floor. Value for money is the key factor with this Hotel and ibis budget London gets all the basics exactly right without making a fuss.
The location is great, being just 5 mins walk from Whitechapel Tube, 10 mins from Spitalfields market and 10 mins from Brick Lane, the home to dozens of great Indian and Bangladeshi restaurants. The bus stops literally outside the hotel into town and although the Hotel is next door to the East London Mosque, good soundproofing means you’d never know. For art lovers, Whitechapel Gallery is 2 mins from the tube.
Best for? Budget traveller
Crash and dash without splashing the cash!
From 60.80 double or twin room per night
ibis budget London Whitechapel
5 Commercial St, London E1 6BF
020 7422 8400
Day 2 – ibis London Euston St Pancras
The Hotel is close enough to drag even the heaviest of suitcases to, from Euston or St Pancras. It was extensively re-furbished recently and the ground floor is now suitably funkified to appeal to trendy travellers looking for a bed, a drink, a meal or just somewhere to hang en-route.
The Reception is notable for its impressively futuristic Minority Report style protections, displaying the latest exchange rates, weather, or if you download the #tweetart app, your thoughts and social media comments converted into a unique piece of animated artwork. The cool bar is open until 1am and the restaurant has a range of world dishes inspired by the adventurer, Phileas Fogg.
Full marks to the marketing bods for the inspiring back story, but in truth the food falls short on anything too exotic. There are ‘Arabian Meatballs’, a good Antipasto dish, but however you dress things up ‘Texas Toast’ is just garlic bread and ‘A tribute to Raffaele Esposito’, a thin-cut Margherita Pizza.
Some of the ‘world’ dishes we tried may lack the true authenticity of say, in the case of ‘Thai-stuffed banana leaf’ a really good Thai restaurant, but the quality is still high enough and cheap enough to keep all but the most strident purist happy. The steaks are definitely recommended and decently priced, but strangely there is no kids menu. If like many of the people visiting here you have ‘small people’ in your party, you can still get small portions of the mains available.
The waiters are friendly and interested, maybe it’s the personalised All Star trainers they all wear that gives them a spring in the step. Early starters can grab a pastry from 4am – 6.30am after which time a varied selection of excellent hot and cold food available. While shards of Autumn sunlight stream through the large windows, its the perfect spot to start the day, people-watching and reading the papers.
The Hotel is parallel with Drummond St, famous for the best Vegetarian dosas in London, including Diwana the first South Indian vegetarian restaurant in Britain (originally opened in 1970), so there is no excuse not to be well fed at bed time. Our room is bigger than the budget Hotel, the bed is bouncy and there’s a nice bath too.
One thing I found a slight issue at all the Ibis Hotels seemed to be a lack of plug sockets in the rooms. I had a phone, camera and laptop with me and by the end of the day they all need charging up. If you’re like me, ask at reception and they’ll happily loan you a plug adaptor free of charge.
Best for? Early starter/late nighter
From £110 double or twin room per night
ibis London Euston St Pancras
3 Cardington St, London NW1 2LW
020 7388 7777
Day 3 – ibis Styles London Southwark Rose
Part of the ‘ibis Styles’ family, the price of the Southwark Rose may be slightly higher, but the all-round experience is also a touch more luxurious. The Hotel is ideal for business travellers looking for something more exciting, or families in need of a base close to the centre, but not too close to the madness. The Globe Theatre, the Tate Modern and the OXO Tower are all within easy walking distance, so to is Borough Market. Some rooms have a really great view of the Shard, so its worth asking at reception if you can bag one.
Facilities include wizzy wi-fi, 32” flat-screen TV, iron, hairdryer, electric blackout blinds and a safe big enough to keep your laptop in. There is plenty of space to swing a cat and the bed is soft and comfy and I could quite happily stay the week. Because the Hotel is so close to dozens of excellent restaurants and bars, I can imagine it’s own are often overlooked by Hotel guests who venture further afield for dinner, however the food is excellent and the bar is a friendly place to flop.
When you are just too bushed to move, room service will look after your every whim. Parking is an extra £25 per day, but the Hotel is very close to London Bridge and driving in London is a major hassle, so get the train. Overall it’s a friendly place and regular exhibitions of up and coming artists and photographers are hung in the lobby and public areas of the Hotel giving it an individual personality missing from so many so-called chain hotels.
Best for? Wheeler Dealers and Capital Pleasure seekers
A Rose among Thorns.
From £117.90 double or twin room per night
ibis Styles London Southwark Rose
43-47 Southwark Bridge Road SE1 9HH
There are regular offers on all Ibis hotels throughout the year. All Hotels have free Wi-Fi and you can also can get 15% off by booking 15 days in advance for more info visit www.ibis.com