“ Address: 11-15 Argyle Square / King's Cross / London / England / WC1H 8AS „
When staying in London, I hate to pay a lot for a hotel but I also like to be as central as possible. I know this doesn't sound very do-able but I end up searching for hours until I find something that I think will be ok. I was meeting a Canadian friend and her French friend in London for a weekend so I didn't want to get lost finding a hotel and as they were getting there a few hours after me, I also didn't want to drag luggage around for ages so I decided to look in the Kings Cross area. I had never stayed there before so I had no idea where would be good and where wouldn't.
I ended up choosing the European Hotel for us all as it was by far the cheapest at the time. The hotel is less than a 5 minute walk away from Kings Cross Station so it was the perfect distance for me to drop my luggage off before I went for a wander around. The hotel is extremely easy to find due to the distance from the station. All you need to do is cross over the main road from the front entrance and walk down Crestfield Street (near enough straight in front of you) until you reach the hotel in Argyle Square on the right hand side. There is a sign outside the building along with some lovely potted plants so you can't miss it.
Although the outside of the hotel looked welcoming, the inside wasn't nearly as nice. The reception desk is straight in the front door but if there are more than 2 or 3 of you, you will find it hard for everyone to stand there as there is very little space free. The staff was very nice and gave me the key to my room while explaining that as the desk was open 24 hours a day, I had to give me key back in each time I left the hotel and pick it up again when I returned. This seemed like a bit of a pain to me as I would have much preferred to just keep my key on me at all times but I understand that they don't want them getting lost or going missing.
This hotel has no lifts at all, only stairs so if you have a lot of luggage, you will struggle. Luckily, I only had one small weekend bag but the trek up the stairs was very annoying. Obviously, this hotel is not a good choice for those needing wheelchair access and really, I think every hotel should have at least one lift. Surely this can lose them business in the long run. However, I didn't need this so I was fine.
My two friends stayed in a twin room together while I opted for a single room. At the time, this room cost about £35 a night which was really good for a single room. After checking more up to date prices, a single room is now £60 a night which I wouldn't pay. There aren't too many of these about and I have ended up paying more as I've had to book a double room. The problem here though was that while most rooms in this hotel do have en suites, mine did not. The floor that my room was on had a shared toilet which is not the nicest of things to have to share in a hotel. My room did have a shower though but it wouldn't work so my room had to be changed for one with a working shower. The staff were extremely helpful with this matter and had me moved within 10 minutes.
The room itself was quite small with the shower only a foot away from the single bed. The room also had a very small desk with a TV on and one very small wardrobe (without hangers or shelves) to store your clothes. I would describe the room as cosy. The décor was extremely dated and had it been a little bit more modern, even painted in a plain colour, it would have been a lot more inviting. The room wasn't too bad though and I have stayed in worse so I wouldn't complain about that. It also would have been nice to have a little bit more space in the room. The twin room my friends were staying in had a lot more space so it seemed to me that just because I was on my own, I had to have less space to stay in.
The European Hotel does have a breakfast restaurant but we all decided not to eat here. The restaurant, again, was very dated looking with tables that didn't match at all. We only really had a quick peak into the room before we checked out. While my stay here wasn't the best I have ever experienced, it was in a good location and a good price at the time. Now that prices have nearly doubled, I wouldn't choose to stay here again. The standard of the hotel is not high enough to pay £60 for a single room.
I work and commute to London and more often than not, need to come back home late at night...I always get really annoyed and frustrated as the trains either don't run, or leave so early that a 'night out' would involve catching the 10:00pm home...which is fine, some might say. However, I also work in theatre - and generally the shows don't finish until after 10:00pm - so unless I turn into a superhero (which does happen occasionally) and get to the station in super sonic time, there is no way I'll be able to get home...which leads me on to my quest for cheap accommodation to stay over night in London town.
I'm done with staying in youth hostels (unless I'm desperate) from travelling and my uni days and blah de blah - so finding a decent place to stay, at a decent price doesn't come that easy to find...unless you happen to be in the right place at the right time, and discover a super-duper deal where you can stay in London over for peanuts (*tries not to laugh at the idea of an economy based on different types of nuts*...sorry, I digress)
I found The European Hotel whilst browsing 'budget hotel' websites for London. A friend and I needed a room over night, but wasn't prepared to pay over the odds for a fancy hotel, when I only needed somewhere to rest my head, whilst being reluctant to go down the hostel route. The European stood out for me for its price, but moreoever it's location. It is centimetres away (well, on google maps - not in reality, that would be silly) from Kings Cross! It is a family run budget hotel that has been established for over 20 years. They also have 83 'interesingly' decorated rooms. I booked online at travelstay.com, having to pay a deposit of around £10, allowing me to settle the rest upon arrival or when checking out. I got a twin room, ensuite, breakfast included for £60. Not bad (but not as good as the deal I got at the Bonnington - check my other review).
Ok, so here's the run down on the European...
This was easily the most convenient hotel, I personally, have ever stayed in. It's so simple to get to. Just go to Kings Cross, go outside the front of the station, cross the road, go up a bit, then you are there...Magic! When you stand on the entrance of the Hotel, you can see the station. It's ridiculously close. As it is so close to Kings Cross, transport links couldn't be better. Not just for the main tourist attractions (Trafalgar Square, Museums, South Bank, Theatres, Leicester Square, Oxford Street etc) but also for main line trains and airports. Gatwick and Luton Airports trains run from Kings Cross. You can get to Heathrow by jumping on the Piccadilly line. For Stanstead you just have to get over to Liverpool Street - only a few underground stops away.
Location rating: 10/10
Well, the lobby is nothing fancy. The European is classed as a Budget hotel and you can tell that when you step in. It has a hybrid feel of a weird European resort and a basic B&B. Nice creamy wallpaper adorned with Latin scribings(???). There is a small desk to your right with a glass window, where sits behind, your receptionist. Out of the few times we had to speak to reception, something had gone wrong (just my luck), for example they put us in a double room, for 2 nights - when I booked a twin for 1 night! Having explained and presented a print out of our confirmation, there wasn't a problem. The reception is attended 24/7, which is good for a 'budget' hotel, no curfews (pheeew - can I hear the 'glug glug' of the wine in the bar up the road calling me for an all nighter?) so you can go out until the early hours and still get back in. I can't say that I felt particularly keen to hang around in the lobby, primarily because it was so small, and couldn't house more than 6 guests at once...let alone the tourists with their enormous back packs that kept coming and going! (By the way, check in starts at 14:00 and you need be checked out by 11:00 on the day you are leaving.)
Going beyond the lobby, is the best bit...it's an adventure to find your room. It was actually quite hilarious, we had to go up many corridors, go through random doors (that had no signage), down stairs, up stairs, until we found our room. It felt like we were in the Crystal Maze, if only there was a bald man at the end to give us a prize for finding it...!
Lobby rating: 5/10
We eventually got into our room, to find a double and single bed, in a very teeny tiny and cramped room. Which wasn't a problem, as we only needed a place to sleep, so it wouldn't be fair to criticise. However, it would be fair to criticise the awful décor...the curtains and bedding were, um, interestingly patterned with garish floral designs, nice!. The view was, um, also interesting...we looked out onto a metre squared courtyard surrounded by other hotel room windows...felt somewhat prison-esque! We had a TV (as does every room), which was great after we got in having attended the call of the wine in the bar up the road, and watched those crazy late night phone in quiz shows ("...the answer is SCHPIDER-MAAN!") There was also a small kettle with tea and coffee placed on a small, rickety looking shelf at the end of the single bed. We didn't use it, but can imagine it was of use for any caffeine addicts!! Also, we were told that hairdryers (handy) and irons (me? iron? Yeah right!) are available on request.
Bedroom rating: 5/10
Amenities in the room rating: 7/10
The Bathroom was about the size of two double wardrobes, side by side! The sink was miniscule and it all felt very cramped. It looked very dated, but all looked relatively clean. Small towels were provided, as was soap. The shower curtain was a muddy green colour and didn't inspire much hope that there was no mould being disguised within it's dark colour. I wasn't incredibly impressed...but it was 'budget'...!
Bathroom rating: 5/10
As with most budget hotels nowadays, breakfast was included. It wasn't spectacular, but it was adequate. Again, we had fun trying to find the blummin restaurant in the first place. Our bedroom seemed to be at the back of the hotel and on our way round we heard the clatter of knives and forks through one of these random non-signed doors...so we went through and ended up in the dining room, with looks of shock and horror from diners as if to say 'how did you get through there?' (...Wow, my superhero navigational skills are really on top form - we came through some sort of 'hidden' door, presumably for staff only.) Breakfast consisted of bacon, sausage, eggs, beans, toast - the usual cooked affair. As well as cereal (advertised as 'continental'...eh-hem), orange squash (urgh!) and tea or coffee. It was hot and relatively tasty - simple yet satisfying. (although the ketchup was suspiciously spicy...hmm).
Food rating: 8/10
The restaurant/dining room was basic. Make shift chairs and make shift tables. Foreign waitresses constantly running backwards and forwards, leaving toast and coffee or tea on random tables. I said to my friend, 'Is it me, or does it feel like we're at some random hotel restaurant in Europe?' then I thought...BRILLIANT - we're at the 'European hotel'! Only right it should feel like that. Well done that hotel! Although, the décor, the flooring and general feel of the place, was somewhat run down...the ambience was that of an old fashioned European café somewhere. It is was...alright.
Restaurant rating (including staff): 6/10
We paid £60 for one nights stay in a twin room, breakfast included. We actually had a double and a single bed, so we could have slept another in aswell and not tell the staff - making the room even cheaper - but that's by the by, and probably illegal. They take all cards from visa, to American express. For the location, it was well worth every penny.
Price rating: 8/10
GRAND TOTAL FOR THE EUROPEAN HOTEL: 6.75/10
(54/80 to be exact)
WOULD I STAY THERE AGAIN?:
Quite frankly, yes I would...although I would try to find a better quality hotel at a 'last minute deal', to get a similar price. I know this is perfectly possible, as I have stayed in much nicer hotels at a similar price before. I was very content with the place...it seemed to be the ideal place for backpackers as they also have dormitories and shared bathroom facilities, lowering the price even more.
The European Hotel can be found on most websites that offer affordable accommodation in London:
11-15 Argyle Square
London, WC1H 8AS
Thanks for reading :)
© MarcoG 2008
(similar version also on ciao)