A Rose without thorns
Ibis Styles (London Southwark Rose)
Member Name: ryanando
Ibis Styles (London Southwark Rose)
Advantages: Cheap, Clean, Tidy, Comfy, Quiet, Good transport links, good restaurant, breakfast included
Disadvantages: Small flashing lights above bed, Wi-fi not great
At the time of writing it's a Friday evening at the start of December and rather than spending it with my lovely man, I'm in a hotel in the south of London stressing about what time to get up to make it to an appointment tomorrow. Due to taking part in a trial of a new smart-phone, I and the other participants were asked to pop down to London to do a little filming. As such, I've been put up in the aforementioned hotel for free since I had to come down the night before and leave the day after filming due to flight times. Since I've not really got a lot to do while I'm down here, I figured why not make the most of the opportunity and review the absolute crap out of the hotel! Though now that I've written that intro, I'm going to bed and I'll write the rest tomorrow!
===Hot Tub Time Machine===
Through the wonders of a word document, it is now Saturday, filming is over, I have found out that another reviewer has also been put up at the hotel (zoe) and I can now concentrate on what the hotel has to offer. The hotel in question is the Ibis Styles London Southwark Rose (previously the all seasons). It sits neatly at 43-47 Southwark Bridge Road in London (post code SE1 9HH) and is about a five minute walk away from the London Bridge tube station. It's also right next door to Novotel which has a rather large bright sign so if you look out for that it might give you a bit of an indication that you've arrived to the right place. If you are brave enough to be driving in London, Ibis shares a car park with Novotel that is accessed from Southwark Street (just round the corner) and is situated at the back of the hotels. The front entrance is set in off the street and shouldn't cause any issues with wheelchairs either as its all on a level.
Location wise the hotel is very decent. Due to being so close to a tube station, it's really easy to connect to the rest of London. There are even a few good sights to see close by such as the Tower Bridge and Tate Museum. As it was one tube stop away from where I had to be, I was rather chuffed. It only took me 20 minutes from landing at London City Airport to jump on the DLR line and work my way through the tubes, up and out and arrive at the hotel so it's very handy if you're flying into London City Airport too!
===Who Are They?===
Ibis are part of Accor Group (who also own the Novotel right next to this branch) and have three different "personalities". There's the normal Ibis brand which seems to be aimed more at a comfortable stay, Ibis Styles (which this one falls under) which seems to be aimed at good looking hotels and Ibis Budget which is obviously for those on a budget. There are more than 1600 across the world so they, in theory, should know what they are doing. Good to know!
The Reception area is very clean and modern looking with some lovely bright colours dotted around against a silver background. To the left of the entrance you'll find seating and the lifts and to the right you'll see the reception desk and a little tunnel off to the side of it that leads to the restaurant and the bar. I arrived at around 9pm so I was seen to straight away by the friendly staff. They gave me my room keycard, the Wi-Fi password and an explanation of how to work the lifts. They are accessed by tapping your keycard off of the sensor panel just above the lift button and then pushing the button.
There are around 114 rooms in the hotel, mine was number 607 (not quite sure why the numbers go that high but hey ho) and was situated on the 6th floor. Other hotels I've stayed in have had five minute treks to your room which almost broke me a couple of times. Thankfully it was a 5 second walk from the lift to get to my room, a welcome relief after carrying a heavy back pack all day. The corridors were nice and clean and everything looked modern and nice.
===Back to the Past===
Opening the door of the Queen Room I had been given, I felt slightly like I had stepped into the 60's. Mostly this was due to the crazy carpet. Almost-bright-orange with brown and cream circles created something akin to a leopard print effect but not quite. Once my eyes managed to pull away from the gaudy carpet, however, I realised that the room was not only quite good looking (carpet excluded) but that it was also massive. You'll need to pop your Keycard into a little holder on the wall to activate the electricity in the room. Once you've done that you'll see that the room is semi-open plan, the entrance coming into a large sitting area with a red four-seater sofa, a glass coffee table fit for shenanigans, a large LCD TV on a dark wooden cabinet nestled between two red single chairs. In the corner near the window there was a large mirror with a lamp above it giving perfect lighting and another lamp next to the sofa lit the room up. I was really surprised how big it was, probably made to look even bigger by the fact the wall opposite the entrance is all one giant window that runs the length of the sitting area and the attached bedroom. There are a few plug sockets dotted around the room that are available for use which is rather handy and an Air-Con system and a thermostat sat above the door. I also later realised that the sofa was also a sofa-bed which explains why it wasn't quite as comfy as it looked.
The window looked out to the building across the street so the view wasn't fantastic, however Ibis did put some nice spiky potted plants just outside the window to liven things up a little. There was a see-through-ish curtain that covered the window stopping any peeping toms while letting plenty of light in during the day.
===Comfort and Tea===
To the left of the sitting area was a partition blocking view of the bed but still allowing you to see the giant window in its full glory. Walking round the wall the bedroom is also very spacious. A large double bed was in the centre of the room with a lovely headboard stretching to the ceiling made of dark wood and orange padded leather squares. There were four lamps attached to the headboard: two for general lighting and two that were more focused and pose-able that would be great for reading without casting too much light into the rest of the bedroom area. There was also a light emanating from behind the headboard which made it look very pretty indeed.
On either side of the bed there was a small shelf at bed height acting as a sort of bed side cabinet surface. In the corner of the bedroom on the window side is a cupboard containing some bits and bobs; an iron and board, hangers and an electronic safe big enough to fit a laptop into. Running along the window wall is a desk where you will find your kettle and complimentary teas and a couple of plug sockets you can use. There's also a little chair tucked under the desk which is actually very comfy to sit at. On the wall opposite the bed, there was another large LCD TV suspended on the wall, tilted down towards the bed so you could watch from the comfort of your bed.
If you are interested in watching TV in the hotel, it's very easy to use. There was a good choice of channels; BBC 1, BBC 2, ITV1, Channel 4, Channel 5, Sky One, BBC News 24, Cbeebies, E4, The Vault, France 24, Rai Due (Italian), Euronews UK ( though this actually turned out to be a German channel called ZDF), TVE 24 Horas (Spanish) and a channel for your Mp3/Ipod to plug into the TV. I did find that Sky One and E4 didn't seem to be working but I don't know why or if it was just an issue with the room.
The bedroom area also had its own Air-Con System and thermostat which meant I could have the bedroom a different temperature than the sitting area.
===The Huge Boys Room===
The bathroom is situated to the right of the entrance and has a sliding door that can be locked. Following the rest of the room, it's huge. It's also rather gorgeous. The floor was tiled with what looks like slate. The shower, toilet and sink were all shining white porcelain. The wall that you face when you come in was made up mostly of a large frosted glass window (which I didn't realise till morning when the light was shining in) below which is a bench area that you can stand on if you want to see out of the top of the window (which isn't frosted). Being nosey I did and you get an alright view if you ignore the hotel roof! There was no bath but that doesn't bother me since I hate baths and love showers. I would recommend closing the bathroom door before you go to bed if you don't want the light from the window to filter through to the bedroom.
===The Land of Nod===
So, everything looked alright but it all comes down to how well I can sleep in a hotel. I've had some terrible experiences in hotels in London with noise, dirt and generally uncomfy beds. How did the Ibis hold up? Quite well actually! The bed was very comfortable and the sheets quite noticeably smelled lovely when I climbed into bed. I'm not sure how I would have coped with my partner there as they only gave me two pillows and we both use two. As it was just me, however, there were plenty pillows. The duvet was large enough to get comfy in and was quite cosy despite appearing thin. I had worried a little about the massive window wall but Ibis had provided some very adequate black out curtains that kept all the light out. I slept better than I had expected to, though there were a couple of small issues.
The first issue was that there was a unit on the roof above the bed that had two flashing red lights on it. They weren't lighting the room up but they were occasionally catching my eye. I can't stand lights in the room. I had went round switching off the TV's at the plug before bed and was too exhausted to care on the first night so I just turned over and lay on my stomach. The second night I managed to shove some tissues into the plastic casing to cover the lights which worked perfectly. I'm not sure what the thing was for but it was annoying.
The second issue I had was with the Air-Con. The Air-Con switched off when the room reached the right temperature and came back on again if it dipped. As it was freezing outside the temperature was going down quite quickly which meant the Air-Con came back on a couple of times while I slept. As it was actually really quiet in the room, the very quiet whoosh returning sounded quite loud after it had been off for a while and it woke me up. This was easy solved the second night by putting the temperature on the thermostat up to about 25 degrees. Being freezing outside meant that the Air-Con wasn't able to maintain the temperature for long enough for it to switch off, so it stayed on all night and I slept soundly. Perfect.
The last issue I had was with the plug sockets in the bedroom area. If I wake up in the middle of the night I start to worry that I've slept in or don't have enough time to get back to sleep so I have to check the time to reassure me. Crazy I know. At home I have my phone plugged in on my bedside cabinet so I can reach it easily without getting out of bed. In this bedroom, however, the only plug sockets were over on the desk which meant I had to get out of bed to check the time, waking me up even more. This was only an issue the first night when I woke up twice as I had to be somewhere early the next day. On the Saturday night, however, I didn't find it a problem as I didn't have to be up early the next day. All minor issues that would be easily solved though. The bed sheets were changed both days I was there and I came back from my wanders to find the room had been tidied. Overall I had a much better sleep than I had anticipated and was very happy with the room.
The only other thing that tends to bother me in hotels is the quality of the shower. Some hotels I've been to give very weak water pressure or water that is luke warm at best. The Ibis kicks all of their butts. While the water pressure won't knock your socks off, the shower head more than makes up for that. It's massive and gives you a LOT of water to work with meaning that you won't be hanging around trying to rinse soap off. As well as the main shower head, there is an additional rinse hose too! The pressure on that is a little higher so if you really need a bit more pressure to hose yourself down with, just turn the tap the other way and it'll help you out. Some of the rooms apparently come with a blue light in the showers (Zoe told me hers did) but mine was sadly without this funky addition. The only slight worry I had was that the glass on the shower was a little short so I kept feeling like I'd be getting the floor soaking, but I didn't.
There were two incredibly large bath towels supplied each day which were lovely and fluffy. Toiletries wise Ibis supplied me with a large bottle of multi purpose hair, skin and body wash which smelled lovely and left me feeling nice and clean. Around the sink there was plenty of room for my own toiletries and the loo roll was fully stocked. Overall I was more than impressed with the shower and bathroom.
===Breakfast at Tiffanies===
To my delight, all bookings with the hotel include breakfast. Not something I usually bother about, but as I had places to be, it was good not having to stress about finding somewhere cheap to eat. Make your way down to the restaurant area and you will find that the breakfast provided is continental with a good range of fruits, cereals, baked goods and cold meat. Tea, coffee, apple and orange juice were all on tap for you to guzzle. The orange juice was a little bitter for my liking but the apple juice was fine. The first day I had a salami sandwich and stole a banana for later just incase I ended up going round in circles on the tube and starving to death. Safe to say that didn't happen: I owned the crap out of the tube. Yay! The next day I had a chocolate croissant, a swirly fruity baked thing and some chicken slices. Everything was brilliant. I hadn't noticed till the day I left but if you DO want a full English breakfast then you can upgrade for a fiver. That's not terrible compared to other hotels in London (the most I've ever seen being £13 for one breakfast!). Either way, a good selection and you do have the choice of a full English if you prefer. Brilliant!
===Wine and Dine===
The restaurant itself is as modern looking as the lobby with bright colours and artwork all around. Even with all the colours I found it to have a fairly calm atmosphere and it certainly looked great. As well as serving breakfast they do a very decent dinner menu. Rather than traipse around London looking for a nice restaurant, I decided to give the hotel restaurant a bash. It was almost dead when I went in at around 8pm which was fine by me. I noticed they have a decent selection of drink at the bar, however, they don't have any tequila at all which made me a little sad inside. To start, on Zoe's recommendation, I ordered goats cheese which came toasted with sweet onion chutney on top, surrounded by salad leaves. The dish looked gorgeous and tasted as good as it looked. I washed it down with a single Malibu and lemonade.
For my main course I decided to go with the Rib-Eye Steak, medium rare. Steak tends to be a good teller of a decent chef. A lot of places just don't cook it right. The chef at the Ibis got it spot on, serving me a lovely juicy piece of meat along with chips, salad, fried mushrooms and a little bowl of peppercorn sauce. Everything was very tasty indeed, though the peppercorn sauce was a little too spicy for my taste. Over all the meal was absolutely lovely and the staff were very friendly. The only issue I really had was that they don't have any steak knives. This left me cutting my steak with a butter knife which, while not difficult for me, could be very difficult for others with reduced strength in their hands. I noticed a slight ache by the end of my steak and found it very odd indeed that they don't have the proper knives for steak. All in my meal came to a few pence over £25 (that's starter, main and a drink) which wasn't incredibly shabby.
===Free as a bird Wi-fi===
As well as a free shoe pad, sewing kit and various teas, you will get free Wi-Fi access throughout the hotel. My mobile didn't seem to have any issue picking it up and using it for short periods, however, I did have to keep reconnecting if I'd put my phone done. My laptop was having a lot more issues and most of the time couldn't connect to the network for some reason. Thankfully the phone I had with me is able to send out a signal for other devices to use the mobile internet through it and I have an all you can eat data package with the mobile. If I didn't have that, I probably would have been a little more annoyed with the Wi-Fi being so hard to pin down than I actually was. I don't know if it was just my room having issues though I did notice that a few other people were using their phones to piggy back other devices onto when I searched for my phones Wi-Fi. Who knows? This might be something you want to look into with the hotel if you really need internet.
There is also the option to hook up to a broadband connection. There is a wire on the desk in the bedroom area that you would just plug in. The only issue here is that you would have to pay £9.99 for the broadband to be turned on. Not something I'd really want to pay extra for myself.
===Any thing else?===
The hotel does have a couple of extra services such as rooms specifically for disabled customers and meeting rooms that hold up to 70 people that you can book out. That may come in handy if either you are disabled or you need to hold a meeting while you are staying at the hotel.
Pinning down the price of my stay was a little difficult. As I didn't pay for it, I didn't have any receipts. As it was booked online the hotel staff couldn't access details of how much it cost. I asked the lovely people at Ciao who think it was around £120 for the first night and a lot more for the second night. Having searched on similar days (Friday to Sunday) I found the same room for around £311 for the whole stay. I also tried bumping the number of people up to two and the price stayed the same. This means that it was £155 for one person but if you are staying with your partner (or more, keep in mind this room could sleep 4 people easily) the cost would come down to £77.50 a night. Considering how clean and nice the place is, that's a bargain. Compared to a lot of other hotels in London, that's a bargain.
To add to the bargains you can get here, there is also an offer you can get when booking. If you book through the website and find the same booking cheaper elsewhere within 24 hours, Ibis will match the price and then knock 10% off it for you as well. It's a good idea to have a look around to see if you can't catch them out before booking. Obviously there are terms and conditions attached to that so you can find more information on the offer here: http://www.accorhotels.com/gb/garantie/pop_present ation.shtml
Overall I thought the place was great. I had a decent sleep regardless of any issues and the whole hotel was clean and tidy. The staff were friendly and the restaurant served some really nice food at good prices. I'm still not sure why they would have flashing red lights above your bed, but it was easily remedied. I'd definitely consider going back there again even if it's not right next to where I needed to be due to the proximity to the tube while managing to avoid any noise from the trains! A fantastic little find by the people who were paying for it (that'd be Ciao)!
===My Stay In Short===
Location: 5 out of 5. Close to some main attractions, Great transport links.
Bedroom: 4 out of 5. Comfy bed, losing a star for the flashing lights
Bathroom: 5 out of 5. Gorgeous. Great shower, decent shower gel provided, well stocked with loo roll.
Cleanliness: 5 out of 5. Brilliant. The whole place was clean and tidy.
Restaurant: 4 out of 5. Great food, friendly staff, only losing a star due to not having steak knives.
Price: 5 out of 5. Fantastic! Cheap compared to lots of hotels in London
Overall Experience: 5 out of 5. I'd definitely consider going back.
Ibis Styles London Southwark Rose
43-47 Southwark Bridge Road
Summary: A good budget friendly hotel with good travel connections in London