Newest Review: ... area was quiet, small and intimate, but as soon as I approached the desk, the receptionist appeared to greet me. The service was unconditio... more
A Jazzy Little Number
Montague on the Gardens (London)
Member Name: plipplop
Montague on the Gardens (London)
Date: 27/05/06, updated on 28/05/06 (354 review reads)
Advantages: Stylish, superb service, nice garden
Disadvantages: Over-priced, small rooms
ABOUT THE HOTEL
In line with its rather picturesque name, The Montague on the Gardens occupies a prime location in the heart of Bloomsbury, amidst one of the streets of gorgeous period townhouses. The building is extremely elegant, with period features throughout and a high standard of décor and fittings throughout. The name is entirely accurate, as the hotel overlooks a rather tranquil garden terrace to the rear, and some of the rooms have views out onto the square (for an additional £10 premium.)
Euston station is about ten minutes’ walk away – Kings Cross is probably about twice that. I normally jump in a taxi but if you prefer. the nearest Underground station is Russell Square, which is literally five minutes’ away, although you could also use Holborn station if convenient. There are plenty of buses to nearby Russell Square, including a direct service from Heathrow airport, and there is an NCP car park just around the corner for car drivers. The area is very well connected for public transport, but is not horrendously busy, and this is one of the reasons that I tend to go for hotels in the region.
WHAT A WELCOME
As soon as I climbed out of my taxi, a hotel porter rushed to help me with my (two small) bags and held the doors open for me. The reception area was quiet, small and intimate, but as soon as I approached the desk, the receptionist appeared to greet me. The service was unconditionally superior to any other that I have received, with a genuine air of warmth and friendliness evident with everyone who rushed to help me. As soon as I had been checked in and issued with my room key, the porter directed me towards one of the lifts and escorted me up to my room. If I’m honest, I was rather taken back by the whole experience, which was greatly removed from anything I’d ever experienced in a London hotel before, so I really thought I had found hotel paradise.
Sadly, the room wasn’t quite up to those exacting standards of paradise. I had booked an executive double room, but the dimensions of the room were actually far smaller than those of most standard double rooms that I have taken in other hotels. The décor was fairly elegant, and certainly in keeping with the period, but in such a small room it was also rather oppressive. Both the carpet and curtains, as well as the wall paper were heavily patterned – and all different. Above the bed were patterned, fabric drapes and the complete package was quite overwhelming. The room was also very warm – probably due to the fact that the air-conditioning was on hot and the space was so confined. To be fair, all the fixtures and fittings were in excellent condition, and the room was very clean – but really not to my tastes at all.
The bed was located in a recess, with a small cabinet to either side and a minimum of space to move. Immediately in front of this was a desk unit and chair, just big enough to accommodate my laptop and a glass of wine, as well as the portable television. There was a small round table and chair in the corner, which added no real use to the room and could realistically have been taken out to free up some space. The desk unit rather neatly housed all the bits and bobs – a mini bar, hair dryer, tea, coffee and telephone directories. There was also a medium-sized wardrobe that was used to store an ironing board and the trouser press. In retrospect, everything was quite carefully considered within the very compact size, but it was still cluttered.
The bathroom was similar in size to the bedroom, in that things were arrange with just enough space to be described as adequate. The bath was a fair size, and also had a shower, but the toilet was very strangely positioned and if you sat on it, you virtually ended up peering over the edge of the bath. The shower was a proper power shower, and the water pressure was such that the bath filled up rapidly – a watery disaster was only narrowly avoided. Free toiletries were provided as well as bath robes and plenty of towels.
Overall, there was nothing particularly wrong with either the bedroom or the bathroom – but space was a bit too tight for me alone, let alone if a couple were using the room.
THE FACILITIES AND EXTRAS
What sets this hotel out from the competition, and probably contributes to its apparent popularity, is the range of facilities available to guests. For such a comparatively small hotel, the Montague has a considerable amount at its disposal. Adjacent to the hotel is a bistro, with a traditional ambience and menu – there is even a piano player most evenings. The bistro was being refurbished on my last visit, but I am assured that the food is of an excellent standard and the bistro is very popular with theatre goers for pre-show dinners. I liked the lounge bar, in so far as it was comfortable and quite atmospheric, although if you were looking for something a bit lively, you would be disappointed. There is also a conservatory, which looked like a real sun trap to me, and served afternoon tea as well as evening drinks. I’m sure that in the summer the garden terrace would be extremely pleasant – certainly something that you’d struggle to find in many other London hotels.
Downstairs, there is a small gym, which is free to guests. There isn’t a vast array of different pieces of equipment, but the outlook into the garden is quite nice and the gym is well-fitted. Mirrors are used cunningly to make the place look bigger – to be avoided if you’d rather not see yourself sweating away on the exercise bike. They also have a little desk under the stairs (I kid you not) with a PC on it that you can use to go online. At £5 per hour it’s not cheap though.
The Montague also has an established reputation for hosting social events. Every Wednesday, Thursday and Friday night they have a happy hour with live jazz music that seems to go down a treat. They’re all geared up for Valentine’s Day, but things are not cheap. A romantic candle-lit dinner will cost you £40 per head - £94.50 if you want a room to go with it.
The bistro has a relatively formal setting, and as such is not the sort of place that I think lone guests would feel comfortable in. I toyed with the idea, but when I poked my head round the door it was all candle-lit suppers and soft music, so I changed my mind. There was a good room service menu though, and my food was fresh and well prepared (if not on the pricey side). The menu in the restaurant sounded delicious though – all sorts of dishes and specialities to be found. The chef even uses his own herbs grown in the garden (allegedly). I’d happily eat here if I was part of a group.
VALUE FOR MONEY
The Montague is not cheap, and if I’m honest I do question whether its tariff is justified. A standard single room is £175 per night, and a standard double room is £200. Nonetheless, all is not lost. If you log on to www.laterooms.com there are normally some pretty good discounts to be had. I travelled during the week and obtained a double room at £124. I’ve just nipped over to have a look now and if you were to stay there tonight, they have rooms for £69 – not bad at all.
The standard of service was truly excellent so I have absolutely no complaints there whatsoever. The rooms and the building in general were clean, well fitted and stylish, but rather cramped. I’m afraid the size of the room didn’t justify the price tag – even at £124, that’s a lot of money for such a small room. I’d have to consider coming here again quite carefully, and the price on offer would probably be the motivating factor for me.
Recommended – but don’t pay more than £100, because it’s not worth it.
Summary: Stylish and friendly but some compromise on space means that the price isn't necessarily right
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