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Going up the Wall, in comfort
Hotel Apex London Wall (London)
Member Name: frangliz
Hotel Apex London Wall (London)
Advantages: Very friendly service; free wi-fi; walk-in shower as well as bath
Disadvantages: No interesting view; problem with keycard
Situated in the financial and business area of London, the Apex London Wall Hotel is aimed mainly at city gents. Not many of them are around at the weekend, of course, so it is quite easy to get a discount on Friday, Saturday or Sunday nights. This is a four-star hotel that would normally be far beyond my pocket, but I was lucky enough to win £100 to spend on a hotel room from the website Secret Escapes. With a discounted rate of £115, including breakfast, I only had to pay £15 for the luxury of a room on a Friday night in August at Apex London Wall.
I can't comment on the booking procedure through the hotel itself, as I booked through Secret Escapes. Their online booking process is very straightforward, but you do have to pay upfront by either debit or credit card. Soon after I had paid my £15 balance, I received an email confirming my reservation along with a reference number. I printed out the email to take with me on the day.
Apex London Wall is less than five minutes' walk from Moorgate tube station and also close to Liverpool Street railway station. It is within walking distance of St Paul's Cathedral, and I went on from there across Millennium Bridge to Tate Modern. The Guildhall and the Gherkin are nearby too. Although I wasn't familiar with this area of London, I found my way easily from Moorgate station.
I arrived at the hotel at about 3pm and went to the reception desk to the left of the entrance. The décor is quite sombre but very stylish; I loved the bonsai tree in the window. The receptionists are very friendly and welcoming. I showed my email and had to fill in a few contact details on a form. I also had to present a debit or credit card; the hotel takes a payment of £30 to cover any extras, but this is of course refunded if you don't have to pay for anything else. I was given a keycard and an Internet user ID; one big advantage is that the hotel offers free wifi, although I did not personally use it. I was offered an upgrade to a superior room, but this would have incurred an extra charge and I didn't need a lot of space. I was given a room on the first floor and decided to take the stairs; there is of course a lift as well.
The keycard serves a double purpose, as you put it into a slot by the door to make the electricity in the room work. Not only does this economise, but it means you don't forget where you put the card! The lights came on, and I loved the look of the room. The curtains, cushions and bedspread were all in a turquoise and brown colour scheme, either with stripes or a floral pattern. The stylish armchair and footstool were turquoise velvet; the carpet was a two-tone grey and the walls fairly neutral. The 40-inch flat screen television looked very impressive although I wasn't personally interested in it. Bedside tables provided room for an iPod dock, a telephone, paper and pen. In one corner of the room were a desk and chair; the desk provided space for a mirror, three magazines (not to be removed) and a tray with several glasses, two bottles of water, one of red wine, a small tub of Pringles and a packet of jelly beans. Everything but the wine was complimentary. I was puzzled, however; what about hot drinks?
I hung my coat up in the wardrobe and noticed a laundry bag, an ironing board and an iron to one side. Then I opened a cupboard door, and there was the kettle along with a leather tray filled with sachets of coffee, tea, sugar, sweetener, hot chocolate and some biscuits. I was glad to see that decaffeinated coffee was included, and there were fruit and mint teabags as well as breakfast tea. Also in this cupboard was a safe, a hairdryer, a clothes brush and a shoe-shine cloth. The full length mirror was beside the television, and there were three beautiful photographic prints on the walls.
My only reservation so far was that the window was rather small, but it looked out onto a narrow street with an office building opposite, so it would make more sense to draw the curtains across. Would the bathroom live up to the room itself? Quite simply, yes; I was amazed to find a walk-in shower as well as a good-size bathtub. The beige tiles were quite large, and everything was spotless. Toiletries were by Elemis and had a subtle fragrance that could suit either men or women. As well as shampoo, conditioner, shower gel, bar soap and body cream there were tissues, cotton buds, a cleansing pad and a shower cap. I didn't try the shower as I haven't got a bathtub at home, so I enjoyed relaxing in the bath which was big enough to lie back in.
I got back to the hotel just after 8pm and noticed that the bar was quite busy. From my room I could hear one or two people being rather rowdy, but by midnight all was quiet. I didn't sleep particularly well, but that's normal for me. The king-size mattress was firm and very comfortable; just one of the plump pillows was enough. The room is air-conditioned and the temperature was just right. When I got up on Saturday morning I found a copy of The Guardian outside my door; you can ask for any newspaper you like, and there is no extra charge.
Breakfast is served from 7am until 11am at weekends; you can have it in your room, but there would be a £5 surcharge. I was ready to go down at about 8am. Here the problem started; I couldn't close my door behind me, and when I waved the keycard over the panel, I got a red light rather than a green one. In the end I decided I would have to take all my belongings with me and go down to reception. When I got to the top of the stairs, a member of staff was there and greeted me. He came back to my door to try to solve the problem. He asked me if I had already checked out, and I told him I hadn't. He then asked me to wait a couple of minutes inside my room while he went to check with reception. He soon came back and said everything was fine and apologised for the problem; the green light now showed with the keycard.
The breakfast area is just round the corner from the bar and is divided into small sections. A waitress checked my name and room number and showed me to a small table by a huge window. Again, though, there was just a narrow street and tall buildings to look out on. The waitress fold the linen serviette diagonally and placed it on my lap. I ordered a glass of orange juice and had a look at the menu. I was tempted by the kippers but had had mackerel the night before, so I decided to go for the Great British Breakfast - so called, I think, as it includes black pudding. I asked for just one egg, scrambled, rather than two, and declined the offer of toast. I also asked for some freshly brewed coffee; I'm not easy to please where coffee is concerned, but this was one of the best I've had. It wasn't long before my breakfast arrived, absolutely piping hot. There were two rashers of bacon, half a tomato, a Cumberland sausage, two slices of black pudding, a large portobello mushroom, the scrambled egg and some baked beans in a separate little pot. I was offered ketchup or brown sauce, and salt and pepper were already provided. I can't criticise the food in any way; while I was eating, two of the waitresses came at intervals to ask if everything was all right, and it certainly was.
As well as cooked breakfasts, Apex offers cereals, porridge, yoghurt, fruit, continental breakfasts, in fact almost any kind of breakfast you could imagine. The waiting staff are all very friendly and polite, and even if you are on your own you don't feel awkward having breakfast in the dining room. If breakfast is not included in the price you are paying, it would work out rather expensive; the Great British Breakfast, for example, is £10, and toast and drinks would be extra. There is also a restaurant within the hotel called Off the Wall where you can have lunch or dinner.
Check-out was even simpler than check-in, especially as I didn't have any extras to pay for. The two receptionists on duty that morning were, like the others, extremely polite and friendly. I left saying that I hoped I would be able to come back one day.
The rack rate for the Apex London Wall is around £360, but the hotel does have special offers, especially at weekends and for two-night stays. The availability of free wifi is a big plus, and there is a gym in the basement that you can use free of charge. Even though I didn't take advantage of all the facilities, I felt that £115 including breakfast was very good value for a hotel of this standard in central London. The Apex London Wall is stylish, clean and comfortable. All the staff make you feel welcome, being friendly as well as efficient. I would definitely recommend this hotel for a weekend in the city.
Apex London Wall Hotel
7-9 Copthall Avenue
Tel. 0207 562 3030
Fax 0207 256 2180
Summary: A super hotel in central London