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Who's Been Smoking in My Room? (Nobody It Seems)
Hotel Ibis Leeds Centre (Leeds)
Member Name: fizzywizzy
Hotel Ibis Leeds Centre (Leeds)
Advantages: Close to centre, fairly cheap, meets basic needs
Disadvantages: A few house - keeping issues
Until recently I looked on the Ibis chain as a step above Formule 1 (the cheapest and most basic of the Accor Group hotel chains) and it's newer but slightly more upmarket sister chain Etap. The thing with Ibis is that the standards vary quite considerably between hotels and there is a bewildering array of room tariffs so prices can be eye wateringly expensive for what's on offer, or a really exciting bargain should your stay or the time you make the booking coincide with one of Accor's frequent promotions.
I picked Ibis Leeds for a two night stay (Friday and Saturday) based on a combination of location and price. In the past year or so I've stayed in two other Ibis hotels: one in the centre of Sheffield, the other at London Euston. Both of those stays were over a weekend. I didn't look at any reviews for the Leeds hotel, but I felt I knew what to expect.
This hotel is situated just on the edge of the city centre, about ten minutes walk from the train station and the main shopping centre, and fifteen minutes walk from the central bus station. The main business district is situated between the hotel and the train station so you'll find that at weekends, there's not a great deal happening until you get into the centre. There are, however, a couple of pubs and restaurants that are open seven days a week. A minute's walk across the main road from the hotel there is a leisure/retail park that has some chain restaurants.
This hotel cannot boast a visually appealing exterior. The hotel was opened in 2005 and has a rather grim exterior which is clearly meant to look very modern but doesn't do anything for me. It's directly on a busy road, not set back at all and without any grounds. The entrance is very discreet and you may find yourself thinking that there's a "main" entrance elsewhere: there's not.
The ground floor contains reception, the bar-restaurant and a small seating area which also has a single public internet terminal for which there is a charge for use. A buffet breakfast is served in the restaurant until noon and then other meals are served there until 10.00pm.
We had booked online and the friendly receptionist found our reservation quickly. We hadn't paid in advance for breakfast but he didn't mention that we could pay in situ if we wanted it. (We did know this but I would have thought it should have been mentioned). We were issued with a single swipe card for entry to the room and were told it was on the tenth floor. He walked off before we could ask where the lifts were and we had to find them ourselves.
Coming out of the lift on the tenth floor we paused to look at the view from the picture windows which each landing has: it made me feel slightly vertiginous as the window goes all the way to the floor. You get quite a good view of the city skyline. Our room was the last one on the corridor which we were happy about as it meant that nobody had to troop past it in the early hours. The public areas were all well maintained with none of the horrible marks on the walls you often get in hotel corridors.
Our room was exactly as we'd expected. Neither small nor large, and as bland as can be: a simple double room with en suite bathroom "pod" (some Ibis hotels have a conventional en suites with proper walls rather than the curved pods which, in my experience, tend to get very hot). You have to step up to get into the bathroom which may not be suitable for everyone but it is just one small step.
The room had a small clothes hanging space, beside tables and a desk. All rooms have colour television with basic channels but for an additional charge you can have extra channels and/or internet access. You can either use your own computer or access the internet via the television and a keyboard which is situated under the television set. I used this in Sheffield and the keyboard was pretty rubbish making it virtually impossible to use the internet successfully.
The bathroom was very clean but two yellow cigarette burns in the vanity unit spoiled the look. There were two miniscule towels but they were, at least, really soft. There was a tiny bar of soap beside the wash basin and body wash in a pump dispenser on the wall inside the shower.
As with all Ibis rooms there was a kettle, mugs and tea bags, coffee sachets, sugar (and artificial sweetener) and tiny cartons of UHT milk. This was the sum total of the complimentary items: Ibis don't do extras.
Overall we were happy enough with the room. The room was quite warm and although it didn't have actual air conditioning, it did have air cooling: I'm not sure of what the difference is but it did work well and was easy to use, making the room much more comfortable without making much noise.
One issue clouded our stay. We went out early on the Saturday morning, returning mid afternoon for half an hour to deposit some items and have a brief rest. The maid had been in and had made the bed and replaced the towels. When we returned that night, however, the room smelt quite distinctly of cigarette smoke. My partner had gone straight into the bathroom and I had been going to ask him if he could smell it too when he called through to me that he could smell cigarette smoke. I went to reception to report this and a duty manager came back with me with a machine that he used to check who had accessed the room during the day. According to the machine, other than the maid in the morning and ourselves in the afternoon, nobody had been in the room. We got no further, but one thing is definite - that room smelt of cigarette smoke.
We had two surprisingly good nights sleep: I say surprisingly because it seems that this is a hotel that is popular with stags and hens and other groups of younger people and I thought that might mean a noisy night, or at least noise in the early hours. At weekends the hotel has two of what Ibis call "floor walkers" - bouncers, alternatively; I didn't know whether to be reassured or alarmed by this.
We didn't have breakfast at the hotel but a variety of options are available depending on the time you want breakfast. I imagine the earliest one is pre-packed, but most people will probably avail themselves of the buffet breakfast which starts later. At £6.95 per person it wasn't the most expensive breakfast I've seen for a hotel in this price bracket.
This is a basic hotel with very little in the way of facilities. Business travelers will probably want to move up a class but if you're on a budget then this place isn't bad at all. It was ideal for us as we spent hardly any time at all in the room and had no need for additional facilities.
On the whole the standard of housekeeping was very good but on exiting the lift on Sunday morning we did find a scattering of ketchup smothered chips on the carpet in the lobby which I would imagine had been there since the early hours. All the staff we encountered during our stay were polite and helpful to a point and while didn't really present any particular challenges as customers, I wouldn't say that anyone really went the extra mile.
We paid £35 for our first night and £39 for our second, a promotional rate obtained by booking in advance. If you book through the Accor website you currently can get a 30 per cent reduction by booking thirty days in advance and there are a variety of pricing options that give a degree of flexibility with date changes and cancellations. (For example, for the very cheapest price you won't be able to cancel but if you pay more you can change dates but not cancel and for a higher price still you can have complete flexibility to cancel or reschedule).
I wouldn't have wanted to pay much more for the room but that was really down to location rather than the experience. Although it's a short walk into town, most people would probably prefer something more central.
Summary: Decent budget hotel close to Leeds city centre
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