“ 2**. Piccadilly Circus, London W1A 4BZ. A large hotel. Various bars and restaurants within the hotel, as well as shops. FACILITIES: Rooms are not all ensuite; family rooms; TV; Tea/coffee; 950 rooms, 336 are non-smoking; night porter. „
Long before I stayed at the Regents Palace Hotel, close to Piccadilly Circus, I had the impression that it must be rather a nice place to stay. From the exterior one gets the impression that it is quite swish and, of course, one assumes that it must be quite costly given its location in the very heart of the West End. Therefore it was never an accommodation option I considered when looking for somewhere to stay in the capital until I found myself needing a hotel during one of the all too frequent public transport strikes. I had won a competition to go the MOBO awards with a nights accommodation at the rather grand Sunbourn Yacht Hotel in Docklands but wanted to extend the trip by a night to do some shopping and go on the London Eye; those being my main considerations I knew I would need somewhere fairly central. Each website I looked at featured the Regent Palace and each time it appeared I ignored it; after a luckless hour or so I was forced to concede defeat. It looked like we would be going straight home. There was only one option available - increase the budget.
And this is how we came to stay at the Regent Palace Hotel - and the budget didn't even have to be increased. I was surprised to find that we could book a double room with private bathroom for the princely sum of £55.00 and absolutely amazed that it was in such a well-placed hotel within walking distance of several shopping areas and the London Eye.
Arriving at the hotel we were impressed. The reception area was spacious and airy. There was a queue at the desk and we were given a card to fill in before having to queue again; unperturbed by this Soviet-style experience we diligently did as requested and joined the queue again, handing over the card and our internet booking confirmation when asked. Behind the receptionist, the room rates were displayed on the wall. Now, although it was entirely possible that the rates for online booking might differ from other rates I checked with the receptionist when I spotted a discrepancy between our room rate and the displayed rate; this was how we came to learn that we had not booked a room with en suite facilities. We would have to pay another £10.00 for this facility and reluctantly did so.
We were given our room key and the receptionist pointed out the staircase - none waiting to carry your bags here! It was at this point that we discovered that the impressive reception area is the plushest part of the Regent Palace; climb the stairs or walk the corridors and you'll find the reality is a little different - threadbare carpets, chipped paintwork, big dents in the walls and in some places pictures have been taken down and you can see what colour the walls were originally.
It's not much better in the rooms where threadbare carpet and faded curtains await you once again. With barely enough room to swing a cat you'll be glad you left the pets at home. Try having a shower in the telephone box sized "podule" bathroom and you'll find it difficult not to flood the floor. Whatever you do, don't come in half-cut - you could do yourself a nasty injury when you forget the step from the bathroom to the bedroom - a good ten inches. The window didn't close properly although this didn't concern us greatly until the early hours when the bin men arrived. Seemingly not many of the rooms here have a view - you can probably do without it if ours was anything to go by, a tastefully arranged selection of bins and crates.
The bed was short and certainly not suitable for the 6'2" stature of my curry monster; even when he sat up in bed his feet touched the wall. In fact you could sit in bed and touch the walls to the left and right, the bed had been slotted into a teeny alcove. The rest of the floor space had been filled with a cheap and nasty wardrobe and a rickety melamine desk on which was perched a colour TV and a kettle with the most miserly selection of coffee and tea I've ever seen in a hotel.
While the bedding was clean, I was horrified to find myself wheezing badly after just a couple of minutes in the room - the culprit being the plump feather pillows. I called reception and was told that housekeeping would send some synthetic pillows along to us right away. Having been partying into the early hours we were exhausted and looking forward to a siesta before heading out on the town. It didn't happen - it took three phone calls and an hour and forty minutes to get the pillows.
Things were much less laid back the following morning when our breakfast arrived heralded by a hefty knock on the door at seven a.m. to be presented with breakfast in a plastic box. This contained an apple (red - I HATE red apples) a cold croissant and a tiny carton of orange (a nasty and synthetic tasting brand). We kept these to "enjoy" on the train home and went elsewhere for breakfast.
Of course, its things like this which keep the prices down at the Regent Palace; a hotel with 920 rooms would be hard pushed to do breakfasts cheaply and why not save money on cooking equipment, food and staff when you could just give them a plastic box? And if you really want a sit down breakfast, the hotel has "Café Nescafe" in the lobby - basically a couple of tables and chairs and a counter serving overpriced coffee and pastries.
If you need something a little stronger the hotel also has its own bar - O'Callaghans; its an Irish themed place according to the blurb - about as Irish as Tony Cascarino or Andy Townsend if you ask me! Why would you want to sit in this dreary hole when you could be out enjoying some of the coolest or the cosiest places in London right on the doorstep?
The hotel has various categories of room available and it is possible to pay a little more (see the website for current prices) and get a slighlty higher stadard of room - in the ones shown on the website some of the soft furnishings actually match! All "Regent" rooms come with ensuite facilities - the most basic rooms have a washbasin the room and you must call housekeeping if you wish a communal bathroom to be unlocked - let's hope they are a bit quicker than when I called them! There are also family rooms available for up to four people as well as single, twin and triple rooms.
What I know now is that the Regent Palace is a glorified backpackers hostel; if you're not bothered about the trimmings you could do worse than to stay here, not least because of the location - step out of the door and you'll almost fall over poor Eros! It is ideally situated for Theatreland, Soho and some great shopping opportunities as well as being on top of Piccadilly Circus tube station. It may not be as cheap as some of the bed and breakfast establishments a little further out but the location more than compensates. Forget the décor, forget the lack of space - you're in London, get out there and make the most of it!
A quick glance at the hotel's website shows that a double room with bathroom (and I quote "All rooms offered online are ensuite") comes in at £69.00 at the moment taking into account that online bookings make a saving of 22%.
Regent Palace Hotel
A month or two ago, I booked a hotel for a three night stay in London. After trawling around the Net for bargains and failing miserably, I stumbled across activehotels.com, which offered much better rates than the likes of lastminute.com, whose reputation has been built on providing cheap travel and accommodation options for the spontaneous despite the fact that it’s probably the most expensive site of its type out there. After browsing for a while, I plumped for the Regents Palace Hotel – an absolute snip at £44 a night for a non en-suite twin room in early September. Even better, it is located slap bang in the centre of London, just off Piccadilly Circus. With a 2-mile taxi ride on a Saturday night in the capital costing around £10, it made even more sense to book somewhere within walking distance of the sights, sounds and smells in Theatreland and Soho. A few days later, ITV featured a programme called ‘Hotels From Hell’. As the introducer said that they were going to focus on London, I joked to my flatmate that our bargain hotel may be featured… in a somewhat spooky case of foresight, the Regent was chosen out of the hundreds of hotels in London to be analysed and criticised. It also occurred to me that the price of the hotel had probably been dropped in foresight of the programme, and is probably not quite as cheap as £44 a night all year round. Somewhat reluctantly watching the programme, I was relieved to find whilst other hotels were deemed hellish by virtue of bodily fluids on walls and bedbug infestations, the Regent’s main faults were the lack of view and a bit of peeling wallpaper – possibly a cause for concern if you’d paid hundreds of pounds, but surely par for the course for a budget establishment. Last week-end I actually stayed at the hotel in person. Location wise it is absolutely perfect – just 50 metres from Piccadilly Tube station and the famous statu
e of Eros. With 24-hour security and 900-odd rooms (a combination of singles, twins, doubles, en-suite, non en-suite, smoking and non-smoking), it’s not exactly a cosy a B&B. However, the reception area was well manned and the staff were courteous. Located on the 7th of the 9 floors our room was bigger than expected and came complete with the usual TV, tea/coffee & kettle combo and ample bedding. However, it was a bit shabby, with peeling wallpaper and the worn carpets taped over in places, but this was hardly to be unexpected. However, because we didn’t opt for an en-suite, we had to use the collective bathroom. It appeared as if there were a male and a female bathroom for every 20 rooms or so, each containing 2 toilets and two showers. On our block, only one of the showers was working and that had a rancid smell eminating from its plug hole. The door jammed shut and required a mighty yank to open it again, which would have been a little bit tricky for any elderly or frail resident. Seemingly modelled on Eastern-Bloc chic, you almost felt like you needed another shower after using it. Added to the fact that you need to call a member of housekeeping to unlock the shower before you use it (although admittedly they were always there within 3 minutes with fresh towels for you), it is most definitely the hotel’s worst feature. Whilst the lobby walls were getting a new lick of paint whilst we were there (prompted no doubt by the TV criticism), they too were shabby and looked as though they needed renovating many years ago. The ironing rooms were also disgraceful. Overlooking the basic irons and burnt ironing board covers, there was a slight problem in the fact that there was no light to let you see what you were doing and no hanging space for clothes. It’s also worth mentioning that it’s not the quietest hotel in the world, although once again, this isn’t such a surprise given its size and location
. Sadly, I can’t comment on the breakfast served at the Irish bar on the ground floor of the hotel thanks to my inability to wake-up before the clock strikes ‘pm’, although this was not included in the price of the room, and a trip to the numerous cafes and restaurants in the adjacent Soho is sure to be more rewarding. However, despite the above, it was certainly tolerable – after all, you don’t go to the capital and stare at the four walls of your hotel all day long and there were no security issues. Its obvious selling point is its location, unbelievable considering the price. With regard to prices though, it’s best pointing out that there are dozens of agents which sell rooms on behalf of the Regent – it might be best to scout around on sites such as activehotels.com to see if there are any bargains to be had rather than to book directly. We paid for the room upon arrival at the hotel, which can reassure those who are reluctant to pay money to a third party rather than the hotel directly. Whilst perhaps not a hotel from hell, the Regents Palace is very basic, and anyone expecting a shred of luxury with be bitterly disappointed. However, for unfussy people who’s budget is the most important factor in choosing accommodation and for those who prefer to spend their time in London sight-seeing rather than hailing taxis and getting crushed on the Tube, it comes highly recommended.
My girlfriend and I recently spent a weekend in London seeing a selection of shows we?d been wanting to see for quite some time, and we stayed overnight in the Regent Palace Hotel. There were two main reasons I picked the Regent Palace Hotel: 1) The price- at £79 for the night it was the cheapest in the area, and actually the only one I could reasonably afford, what with being a student. The prices generally start at about £34 per person per night. 2) The location appeared to be superb, apparently overlooking the statue of Eros and the lights of Piccadilly Circus. On the way there I had been permanently worried that I had spent my money on what would turn out to be some God-awful dive, so when we arrived at the relatively lush, splendid hotel I was pleasantly surprised. We queued to get our room key, and then headed up to our room, following the maze of corridors and signs along. Having almost got the wrong room due to the bad handwriting of the person who?d written down our room number, we finally found our room and went in. The room itself was spacious, albeit unglamorous, with a double bed, sink, television, phone, and tea/coffee making facilities. Nicely decorated, albeit it far from the splendor of the reception area, but certainly very good for such a good location at such a low price. No en-suite, but that would have been £15 extra or so. There are apparently shower facilities available for those with ?standard? rooms such as ours, but it?s not just a matter of walking along and using one, there seemed to be an overly complicated process in booking them (to do with dialing reception, waiting for someone to come along with a key and allocate you a bathroom etc. etc.) and we couldn?t be bothered with the fuss. My only disappointment with the room was the view. The website had talked of ?overlooking Eros and the world famous lights of Piccadilly Circus?, and hence I?d had romantic notions of looking out o
ver the London scenery with my girlfriend and watching the world go by. How wrong I was. Upon opening the curtains, I was presented not with Eros, nor with any recognisable bit of London scenery, but rather dozens and dozens of other windows. The layout of the building, you see, is diamond shaped, with a huge gap in the middle. While half of the rooms have external walls and hence look out over London, half of the rooms have internal walls and hence look inward at the windows of other rooms in the hotel. And that, dear friends, is what we had. A view of the other internal side of the building, twelve-stories high, in dirty beige brick with pipes and gutter pipes running all over it. And the noise! The air conditioning for the whole building appeared to be placed at the bottom of this middle gap, so imagine the noise of your computer?s fan whirring away, multiplied by ten thousand. We had the window shut and the curtains drawn most of the time we were there. Even the rooms on the outside wall had only views of the road and of nearby buildings, very few could see Eros and Piccadilly Circus unless the occupants could see through walls and round corners. The location, however, was ideal. Within easy walking distance (less than two minutes) of a fair few of London?s theatres and within seconds of Piccadilly Circus tube station. The food was also good. The option available is either a ?boxed Continental? breakfast or a ?Full English? breakfast (which we went for), which involves a very good buffet at ?Callaghans Irish Bar?/restaurant, which comprises of cereal, toast, cooked breakfast, whatever you like really, for an all-inclusive price. It?s also very tasty. On the whole, if you?re going to London to see theatre shows on a low budget, this is a great hotel. Remember, when booking, to try and ask for a room with a window facing outwards into London. The location and the food were superb. If, on the other hand, you?re look
ing f or something a little more luxurious and have a bigger budget, then this probably won?t be much to your liking. Additional: This hotel has since been featured on a short, desperate segment on ITV's "Hotels From Hell". I really don't think it deserved that kind of criticism. People need to remember that £79 per room per night in London is cheap. So the skirting board was a bit grubby in one room and there was a nappy in the central bit (where the air conditioning vents are) when they visited. Those are hardly permanent features. Personally, having visited the hotel I don't feel that it deserved that harsh judgement. I'd certainly stay there again.
PICCADILLY CIRCUS This hotel is the most central I have ever stayed at. Location, location, location. Situated right bang in the middle of Piccadilly all of London is at your feet. Droves of people pass through this hotel making it a pretty good people-watching place. The staff are very friendly and the food isn’t bad either, they do Sunday carvery lunch for little money. The rooms are not much to write home about and no bathroom en-suite in most, they are actually situated so many on every floor. But I have been told they did some refurbishment and now have a limited amount of rooms with en-suite, which they charge a few pounds more for. Although this is a large and impressive hotel you stay in it for situation and price, not luxury, and they do some great offers. I stayed in it for £39.95 per room with my partner.