Newest Review: ... of location, staff, cleanness and of course the prices. In terms of location, like I mentioned before, this hotel is really well situ... more
Peace, Quiet and a Fullers Pint
Hotels in London in general
Member Name: sarajackson
Hotels in London in general
Date: 21/12/02, updated on 30/01/05 (1453 review reads)
Advantages: Quiet Location, Good room amenities, Superb Value for Money
Disadvantages: Tube rides required for most attractions, At weekends nearby restaurants likely to be closed, Nothing else
The Chamberlain is the third Fullers Hotel in Central London, and the first that is 4 star and a hotel in its own right. The Mad Hatter Hotel near Blackfriars Bridge and Sanctuary House Hotel near St James Park, are really just rooms above Fullers Pubs, and although they offer great value for money and facilities far above expectations, I especially looked forward to visiting the Chamberlain. Our experiences at another 4 star Fullers Hotel, the Brigstowe in Bristol had been less than positive, but by contrast the Chamberlain appeared a much more traditional option that the trying-to-be-trendy Brigstowe, so we were optimistic that Fullers had probably got this 4 star style about right.
The Chamberlain is situated on The Minories, a short walk away from either Aldgate or Tower Hill tube stations. We walked from the Aldgate stop, a relatively short tube ride away from Kings Cross. In this way, if you are travelling by train into Kings Cross, the Chamberlain offers the greatest convenience of all three Hotels, being the only one that does not require a change of tube line. The Hotel brochure states ?at weekends this is one of London?s most peaceful streets? and due to the offices in the City being closed at this time, this is hardly surprising. The street is very quiet, but not at any time during our stay totally deserted and therefore we did not feel at all threatened. Only a short walk away is the Tower of London, Tower Bridge and the City. For shopping, theatres and other tourist attractions, you will need to catch the tube. This slight inconvenience in my opinion is outweighed by the peaceful location.
The hotel?s façade, though obviously fairly modern, has a traditional feel, especially at ground level. The upper floors are in a light sandy coloured brick, with uninspiring white window frames, but the street level has dark wood windows with window boxes and light stone façade. Walking past the building you would be struck by the prese
nce of a traditional and attractive looking pub, which is in a prominent position on the front. It fits in very nicely with its more modern surroundings and is aesthetically pleasing. You instantly feel that this is what tourists expect an English city pub to look like, and even if this is no novelty to you, it is still nice to avoid the featureless and bland international chain feeling. The entrance to the hotel is understated and leads to a reception area with a few comfy chairs and a wooden reception desk. This is the area that first sets the hotel apart from its two smaller sister hotels in London, it feel much more like a hotel, with a proper reception rather than a desk hidden away rather as an afterthought.
We asked if we could leave our suitcase somewhere while we went out for the day, as it was only 11.30 in the morning. The receptionist helpfully said we could actually go straight to our room, as it was ready. My Husband is a member of the Fullers Fine Ale Club so we had secured a room at a 50% discount on the room rate, and on checking in, we wondered if this would be have been noted. Our reservation was quickly found and we were pleased to be charged the correct rate. Our room, the standard kind, would have cost £105 at the weekend (inclusive of continental breakfast) but we paid only £52.50. There are also superior and terrace rooms at a small supplement (and these include full English breakfast). During the week, the prices inflate slightly.
The Receptionists in Fullers Hotels always appear to be Southern Europeans who do their job very well, with an efficiency and politeness that many English hotel staff could only aspire to. We were asked if we needed a newspaper or a wake up call the next day, and were given our key to our room on the 2nd floor. We decided to take the lift with its trendy touch sensitive panel, and quickly reached our floor.
The public areas of the hotel including its corridors are all ve
ry new looking, decorated in classic and tasteful tones, with everything very well presented. Our bedroom was large and happily not in the standard layout of most hotel rooms nowadays. Because Fullers Hotels are rarely purpose built hotels, the rooms vary in size and layout, and this only adds to the character. You entered straight into the main space of the room with a large built in wardrobe with mirrors on the dark wood doors directly on your left. Straight ahead was a large desk and TV unit, with built in cupboards for the tea and coffee making facilities and minibar. To the right of the double bed the room narrowed slightly, with a window and consisted of a small sitting area with sofa and coffee table ideal for relaxing with the newspapers. The bathroom was at one end of the room and was by far the largest I have had in a 4 star hotel. In fact the only bathrooms that have been larger have been in Suites at Rocco Forte hotels, where a great statement is made with the bathrooms anyway. The bathroom had a bath with hand held shower and a separate shower cubicle, a facility that is rare. The bathroom is sparkly and new with neutral tiles and classic chrome. Both showers are really powerful and the bath also has the added benefit of a plasma screen above, so you can watch TV. Surely Fullers Hotel are way ahead of their time here! These little touches are more than you would expect. The room was furnished in a soothing, classic style, with the impression of everything being very good quality. A burgundy carpet with checked burgundy bedcover and walls covered in neutral light peach wallpaper with subtle wide stripes. The furniture was in a dark cherry wood style and appeared good quality, and was well co-ordinated. As well as having a very pleasing appearance, the room contained practically all you would expect in the way of room facilities. The large wardrobe contained an iron and ironing board and a safe. The fitted desk unit neatly hid the kettle
with coffee, tea and hot chocolate, and a minibar that unfortunately was of the automatic kind, so to store any of your own items required some dexterity. Contained within the minibar area, was an ingenious storage area for the selection of glasses, and the thoughtful touches made for a clean uncluttered room. The room was well lit with spotlights and free standing, desk and bedside lamps. The dressing table/desk had a good-sized mirror in addition to the full-length mirrors on the wardrobe doors. The TV was of a good size, with various satellite channels, teletext and built in clock alarm. The only criticism of the room was the view, or lack of it. Because our room was in the centre of the building, the view was only of the interior with fire escapes etc. Obviously this is not an uncommon problem in London, and not one that bothered us. Maybe next time though, we would request a room on the front of the building.
The hotel has a traditional pub and a slightly less informal restaurant, although this is closed at weekends. The pub is typical Fullers, with dark wood bar and tables without the sparkly newness that afflicts even the 'traditional style? pub chains. The pub offers a good selection of Fullers beer, London Pride, 1845, Chiswick and bottled Honey Dew and Honey Dew with Cranberry. A huge improvement on the pathetic selection at the Brigstowe in Bristol. I love these Fullers pubs as although I frequent Wetherspoons usually, there is something very appealing about the way Fullers fit out their properties. They appear much more genuine somehow and English, which is a mean feat in London where it is easy to forget which city you are in, in the many anonymous and identical trendy pubs. We kept to various Fullers ales during our visit, and it would be criminal not to really. We ordered a couple of bar meals, and although the menu is not particularly comprehensive, it offers traditional pub fare. My husband ordered the Fish and Chips a
nd I decided to choose a sandwich ? Prawn with Lemon Mayonnaise and Rocket. Both were typical pub fare, superior to most. Most main courses were around the £7 price, so were reasonable for central London, if slightly more expensive than Wetherspoons. But then you can go to a Wetherspoons practically anywhere, but a Fullers pub at only select locations!! The service was good, although obviously you have to order your own food at the bar. Towards the end of our meal we were brought a complimentary bottle of Honeydew with Cranberry, and this was a nice touch.
Of all the hotels and lodges I have stayed at in London, the Chamberlain is the one that I have enjoyed the most. It seems to have the best of both worlds ? on the one hand it has all the touches you expect from a family run company with the insight that Fullers appear to have, and has an atmosphere that is all too often lacking, with the added benefit of Fullers ale!! It also manages to hold its own against other 4 star properties, with good service, pleasing public areas and rooms with facilities far in excess of what you might expect. If health clubs and cocktail lounges are your thing, the Chamberlain might not be for you. Almost always I yearn for the pretentious hotel touches of turn-down, martinis and bell boys. In London though; hardly the most classless city in the World, it was lovely and refreshing to stay in a hotel that realises these touches are often wrongly given higher priority than the things that really matter. Fullers Hotels here demonstrate they really know which things matter to the average customer. For the price we paid, it was an amazing bargain, but even at the regular rate, it would seem reasonable. Considering you pay £75 to stay at a Travel Inn or similar, where you even have to take your own hairdryer, for £30 more, you feel as if you?re in a proper hotel, and go away refreshed and happy.
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