“ Address: 196 High Street / London E15 2NE / England „
When it comes to hotels in London, you either have to pay a fortune or you end up staying in a dump. Thankfully, the Express by Holiday Inn London-Stratford is neither of those. The hotel is located in Zone 4 so while not totally centrally located, is still only a tube ride away from any and all attractions. Mind you, it will take 5-7 minutes to get to the Stratford station, but I can think of worse scenarios. The hotel is clean, modern and comfortable with accommodating staff and no-frills amenities. Compared to some of the places you can get for the same price, the rooms here were a very nice size, while not huge. There was space to walk around the bed and enough room next to it to have a little couch for lounging on. The bathroom only had a shower and no tub, but that's never bothered me (although it might be a drawback for some). The bedroom has a simple TV and (almost mandatory) coffee and tea facilities but not much more. For instance, there's no mini-bar or fridge, but they have a hairdryer - unusually placed in the bedroom hung up next to the full length mirror (which is located on what looked like the door that connects to the adjacent room).
Everything was very clean and well cared for, with nothing that looked worn out or broken. And while not the most stylish of places I've seen, at least everything matched and looked pleasant to the eye. The lighting was a bit overly modern for my taste and we had a bit of a struggle to figure out which switch worked which lights, but nothing that wasn't easily overcome. The biggest drawback was that the bed seemed a bit on the narrow side for two people, and it wasn't firm enough to keep us from rolling onto each other in the middle. There wasn't much of a view since we were on the first floor, but Stratford isn't what I'd call an attractive area of London, so no problems with that.
As for the room service, while we didn't order any, we were pleased with how the staff cleaned our room. The building itself looks very nice - especially compared to the surrounding area which seems to be heavily under construction (we understand that Stratford is where they're building the Olympic Village for 2012). The lobby was also clean and modern with two computers for hooking up to the Internet that wasn't terribly economical costing £1.40 for only 30 minutes! But the front desk staff tried to be friendly and helpful with all our requests, and even the public toilets were nice.
This hotel does have one small conference room which we were witness to one morning, but I doubt they can take more than 8-10 people in that room without feeling overcrowded. The back end of the lobby also serves as their dining room and there's even a tiny bar on the side. This may sound crowded but except for the Sunday morning when there was apparently a large family group about to go off to church for some event, there was enough room for everyone.
This hotel has no spa facilities, but then, with an Express you don't expect those types of luxury items. Breakfasts included in the price were also plain and simple, and buffet style (total self-serve). You get a choice of cold cereals, breads and morning pastries, some fresh yogurts, canned fruits, a coffee vending machine and juices. Warning - their coffee in the machine was absolutely horrid and I ended up bringing some of the instant from my room to get a cup that was drinkable. But everything else was fine and we didn't feel like we were missing out too much by not having eggs or other hot breakfast items.
As mentioned before, this is very close to the Stratford train, bus and tube station, making it very convenient as far as transportation is concerned. If you land in Stansted there's even a bus that takes you right from the airport to this station which made our arrival very smooth indeed. Mind you, leaving from Heathrow was a bit more difficult but we were able to get there with only one train change. Still, being right at the end of the Jubilee line as well as on the Central line makes this location accessible to about everywhere (and this is one of the stations that have handicapped facilities). There's also a shopping center across the street with about all the necessary shops and fast-food eateries you may need.
Unfortunately, if you're looking for bars, pubs and other nightlife, we didn't notice much. I'm sure that there must be some since it is right next to the London City University. And for now, until the area gets fixed up with all the Olympics facilities, there's not a whole lot of traffic but construction noises were kept to a minimum and started at a reasonable hour in the morning.
So if you're looking for something clean and comfortable that isn't too far outside the center of town and won't cost you an arm and a leg, but also isn't terribly fancy, I think the Express by Holiday Inn London-Stratford may be just what you're looking for. That said, while it is nice, it isn't perfect and I think four out of five stars is the correct rating for this hotel.
Thanks for reading!
Davida Chazan © December 2008 (Trivago and slightly amended for DooYoo)
You can find the homepage for this hotel at http://tinyurl.com/88szcm
Average nightly rates for winter during the week for advanced bookings run £67.50 with flexible rate rooms starting at £79, with weekends being £72 to £84.33, respectively. Summer rates for the weekends are £80 to £94 for the weekends and £66 to £77.33 for the weeknights.
Address: 196 HIGH STREET, LONDON, E15 2NE, ENGLAND, Hotel Email Address: firstname.lastname@example.org