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A Pauper's Palace
Regents Palace (London)
Member Name: fizzywizzy
Regents Palace (London)
Advantages: Cheap, central
Disadvantages: Rubbish breakfast, poor service at times, some rooms noisy, small rooms - can feel claustrophobic
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
Summary: A real no frills option - cheap but not very cheerful