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Hotel City Continental (Kensington)

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1 Review

Address: 11-13 Penywern Road, London SW5 9TT / Tel: 020 7373 6514

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      18.01.2011 09:41
      Very helpful



      A top budget choice in Zone 1

      I had to go to Putney for a work thing, and because I'm currently staying way up north, this meant I needed to stay overnight in London. Though my organisation was paying, I don't like to abuse people's hospitality, so I was on the lookout for a cheap place to rest my head. They had suggested some B&Bs near the office, but I've stayed in one before, and they are literally just a room in someone's house, therefore I was very pleased when, after a quick search, I found I could stay here instead for exactly the same price.

      I booked about 5 days in advance, and paid a non-refundable £45 for a twin room with breakfast for two. Normally I try to book with much more notice, so I was impressed I could get something at that price in the capital at the last minute.

      The hotel is located very near Earl's Court station. Exit towards Earl's Court Road, turn right and head along it to the M&S Simply Food and then head down Penywern Road. The hotel is on the left hand side. It's signed if you know to look for it, but on a road that appears to be predominantly hotels it doesn't stand out too much. It was smaller than I had expected and, how can I put this delicately, slightly more downmarket. Let's just say their website does a good job of hyping them up.

      I checked in quickly. There was only one woman on the desk but when other arrivals rocked up another member of staff came out from the back office which impressed me. I had to give a credit card imprint to cover me for any calls I might make. This seemed a bit over the top since most visitors will have mobiles with them and there's nothing else (no minibar or restaurant or pay per view porn) that you might want to charge.

      Our room was on the top floor. I hadn't listened when she told me how to get there, but deduced from the room number (408) that it would be on the 4th floor. The lift only went to the 3rd floor, and from there I had to lug my (ok, small overnight) bag up a narrow staircase. After that 'trek' I really hoped the keycard would work first time, and though it had to think about it for a moment after swiping, the door eventually clicked open.

      The room was an interesting combination of small hotel chintz and big brand generic. The room was surprisingly large, with loads of room to manoeuvre, entirely unexpected for a hotel in this price brand in the capital. We had the requested twin beds and they were properly separate, with a shared bedside table in between. The beds were made up simply with quilts, all white bedding and no hideous bedspreads. Each one had two pillows. You could get out of one bed on both sides, but the other was next to the radiator. The first thing I did was check this was off as the room was rather warm. It was, so I opened the window and then spotted the air con unit. It didn't have a remote but there was a switch high on the wall that was only just within my reach on tiptoes. I flicked it and the unit buzzed into life, quickly cooling down the room.

      Besides the beds, the room boasted a desk and TV. There was one large mirror with a wall mounted hairdryer next to it, and a hospitality tray was provided. There weren't many accessible plugs, and some of the ones they had were oddly placed (two by the door which would surely only be used for a vacuum cleaner and nothing else) but I managed to plug in my laptop at the desk. There was an in room safe placed ridiculously high on the wall, only about 7cm below the ceiling. You'd have had to climb on the one chair to access it, and we didn't bother.

      The decor was rather open - a couple of rails rather than a wardrobe, and shelves rather than drawers. Not the sort of thing you'd want at home if have any amount of clutter, but it really wasn't too bad, and had the advantage of meaning you were unlikely to leave any belongings behind. The red carpet clashed a little with the peach wall behind the beds, but since the other walls were cream, it was really ok. There was a warm sunset picture over the bed - at least I think it was a sunset. Seeing as it was modern art, it could have been something else entirely. Like a murder scene. Or maybe a couple of snakes playing Frisbee.

      The room had an en suite carved out of one corner. This was compact but functional, including a pretty tiled shower cubicle, loo and sparkling sink. We showered at night and in the morning. Both times the water was lovely and hot, and the spray powerful enough if not an actual power shower. There were two sets of towels, quite thin and small, but enough for normal use.

      My main impression was that this was clearly a hotel not a B&B, but definitely on the budget side. The tea tray didn't run to hot chocolate or biccies. The TV was tiny and had only four channels (BBCs 1 and 2, Channels 4 and 5). I can't remember the last time I was in a hotel that didn't offer at least one 24 hr news channel. The bathroom was clean and modern, but the toiletries were wall mounted, not ones you could take away. Again, I was really surprised not to be given a bar of soap - they just provided the liquid variety. The reception area was full of leaflet racks, but there was no in-room information, either about the hotel or the surrounding area. I wouldn't have minded a list of local restaurants as I don't know the area well, and the Yellow Pages they provided was too generic.

      Our room overlooked the road but wasn't noisy. We heard the rain overnight but not a lot of traffic, and slept well, although the beds were rather squishy, and also skated around the room on their casters at the slightest push. I went to sleep facing the TV and woke up more angled towards the window.
      Customer service prior to arrival was good. I booked through their website and got an instant acknowledgement, plus a reminder a few days prior to travel. The website is pretty decent and has nice photos plus lots of details, though it didn't list the TV channels on offer as some do (I wanted to know if we had E4 so could watch Glee...I'd already seen the episode but I knew it was a good one).

      Breakfast is important to me. One of the reasons I picked this hotel was because it offered more than the basic toast-and-cereal breakfast most of its neighbours serve up. The website listed their supposed menu, and when we trekked down the basement breakfast room at 7.15am we were pleased to find all the promised treasures. It was a continental breakfast though this is stated on their website and is what we would prefer to a full English anyway. For a small hotel, the spread was pretty decent: rolls, croissants and brown and white bread for toasting; fruit salad and also grapefruit segments; cornflakes, rice crispies and muesli; boiled eggs; 3 types of cheese, plus a handful of jams and marmalades; fruit and fudge yogurts. The drinks were orange and apple juice (probably from concentrate, but not the sugary sweet nectar nonsense) and a whole range of hot drinks from a machine - different types of coffees, teas and hot chocolate. Sure, there were a few omissions, such as no honey, and only butter, not margarine, but overall we were impressed. The breakfast room was pretty, with modern decor and surprisingly bright considering its lower ground floor setting.

      As part of our deal we got a voucher for 24 hrs free wifi. Since I was carrying my laptop, we took advantage of this, and it was reasonably fast and reliable. You had to activate it within 3 days of arriving (and yep, we were only staying 1 night) and the 24 hours could be used in pieces as long as you remembered to log out (handy for multiple night stays). Again, this was a perk some of their neighbouring cheap hotels weren't offering, so wins them extra points.

      The hotel has a small lobby with seating, but no other facilities to mention. It is not the sort of place you would want to spend days in as there are no other communal areas, no bar or restaurant, no pool or gym, but it's a great pick if you just want somewhere to sleep and then set yourself up the day.

      Would I stay here again? Definitely at this price, though their advertised rack rate of over £100 is pushing it, even for London. It's no better or worse than a Travelodge, but had the advantage of having cheap rates still available a few days prior, hence getting our custom. The breakfast was good, the rooms comfortable, and the location excellent. Recommended.

      Current advance booking rates for £45 per twin/double room per night, inc. breakfast and wifi

      The hotel has 2 slightly different websites...at present both offer the same prices.



      This hotel used to be known as the Comfort Inn Earl's Court, but is no longer part of that chain. That's probably no bad thing.


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