TAG | review
Why we went:
We had a black tie dinner to attend, and wanted a hotel that was within easy taxi distance. We wanted to stay somewhere nicer than a budget hotel, but didn’t want to spend more than £100.
What did we do?
We arrived at around 2pm for a late lunch and a quick drink, had a late afternoon coffee and stayed overnight – going out for dinner in the evening. Stayed for breakfast the following morning and then left.
Look and feel of the hotel:
On the website the hotel looks very plush and luxurious, and when we arrived, the decor was lovely, although not exceptionally high end – although that’s not the aim of this brand. Well maintained in the public lounge area, and plenty to do, as the Village concept includes (in this instance) a Starbucks and a separate bar, as well as the main restaurant.
The hotel is within a business park, and probably explains the great rate we got (£79 a night per room, including breakfast), as I suspect it’s used more in the week. This actually makes a nice weekend hotel as it’s not too busy. The outside of the hotel is very modern, I suspect to compliment the modern office blocks surrounding it.
When we checked into our room, it was compact (but not overly so) and the decor was very well thought out. A good design touch was the “wet room” style shower, with the controls at the opposite end to the rain shower head, which made it very easy to get the water temperature right. The room was modern, clean and had a good level of amenities.
We had everything we needed in the room, tea and coffee making facilities, and there were plenty of things to do in the hotel, 3 choices of where to eat and drink, and a spa.
Eating and Drinking:
Unfortunately for us, there was a major football match on in the bar at the hotel when we arrived, so the bar was packed and noisy – we soon retreated to the public lounge area. We were still able to order lunch, but had to queue at the bar to order, which given the sporting event, took ages.
The food was good and hearty, and despite the wait to order, service was quick and efficient. Having a Starbucks there was a great addition and made a late afternoon coffee a nice treat.
In the morning we had breakfast in the Verve Restaurant, service was a bit patchy, as there was no-one around when we arrived, and we’d been sat for ten minutes before being noticed, given that there were only about six other people in the restaurant this was a little disappointing. They had also run out of food, so we had to wait a while before it was replenished. However when the food did arrive, it was tasty and fresh.
At every point, the staff were lovely and helpful, and we were allowed to check in early which was convenient for us. The hotel is a great alternative to the budget brands for a weekend stay, and makes a great place to stay as a base if you have somewhere to go in the local area. Represents great value for money and we would highly recommend it.
The Grange Tower Bridge Hotel is the latest addition to the London hotel chain’s portfolio and it opened its doors for the soft opening in the first week of June. Situated five minutes’ walk from Tower Hill tube station it has some impressive views (from upper floors) across the river and of the nearby Tower of London and Tower Bridge.
Why did we go?
To experience the hotel and see how it feels compared to other hotels in the chain.
What did we do?
We stayed for one night in June about four days after it opened its doors.
Look and feel of hotel:
The ‘soft’ opening means that the accommodation and restaurant are open, with other facilities such as conference space and spa still being completed. There was also quite a bit of landscaping to be completed outside so the initial impressions are of a building site!
The lobby has a very sparse, almost industrial look, which wouldn’t be to everyone’s taste and is quite different to a lot of hotels we have experienced. It feels very spacious with lots of open space and high ceilings, but with stones floors and pillars, ‘cosy’ isn’t an adjective that would fit here.
Once up on the 7th floor, the feeling changes completely and this is the first time it really felt like a 5-star hotel, with deep carpets and immaculate decor. Our room also felt very plush with floor-to-ceiling windows, extremely thick curtains and excellent quality furnishings. The bathroom was also great quality with separate shower and different light settings.
The bedroom had everything you would expect from this level of hotel, including robes and slippers, although we did only have one set. The media connections are very good with a panel across the top of the desk containing different mains sockets for different countries and connections to all the media in the room (iPod etc) so very good for business travellers. Interestingly the mini-bar was empty and it wasn’t clear if this was the usual situation or if it had never been filled.
It is worth mentioning that although the hotel pool and spa are not due to open until September, guests are able to use the facilities at the nearby Grange City Hotel for a charge of £10 per person.
This was the area where it was most obvious that this is a new hotel and they were certainly having their share of teething problems. Upon arrival there were about six staff behind the check in desk and all seemed busy trying to sort out problems with new arrivals. We had a bit of a wait but the actual check-in was very quick and efficient.
Breakfast the following morning was a bit of a shambles. They have a huge restaurant but clearly not enough staff to service it properly, as there was not a single table that had been cleaned when we arrived, despite many tables being clear of guests. We, along with a few other people, were therefore not able to be seated until the head waiter was able to track down a colleague to clear some tables.
Eventually we were offered a seat at a dirty table while we waited, which was not a good suggestion. It would have been better to stand rather than stare at the previous diners’ debris. However, once we did have a table, the food itself was very good with plenty of choice, although we did have to ask more than once for some tea.
This has all the makings of a really good hotel for leisure or business, with a great location, especially for those who want to be close to central London as well as the City. A lot of the staff appeared to be trainees and they will naturally have a learning curve, however if a hotel markets itself as 5-star it should be able to operate at this level from the outset. Judging by some of the comments on TripAdvisor, we got off quite lightly!
It will be very interesting to return to the hotel once the conference space is open to see how things have changed and to experience the service levels once the staff and the systems have bedded in.