London~ The mention of it conjures an overwhelming sense of exhilaration. There’s the food, the culture, architecture oozing with old world charm… Everything nice comes with a hefty price tag, London included. A typical night’s stay at the city centre can easily set a traveler back with at least SGD150.
And the currency drop following Brexit did not help.
The high accommodation cost is also what drives budget hotels like hub by Premier Inn to thrive.
Budget hotels used to work by cutting back on all the frills, which is typically on the other spectrum of a 5-star hotel stay. Luckily for us, innovators like Premier Inn has found a middle ground that offers decent comfort without requiring travelers to go wash dishes at a local restaurant.
The Tower Bridge outlet outdoes all predecessors (it was only opened in end 2015!) not by cutting back on service, but to find cheap alternatives to the services.
The first impact on guests was not at the point of setting foot in its lobby. Instead, it started from the point of registration. On the registration mail was a QR code that begs one to “Scan Me”, followed by a line that said “Leave reception for dust on arrival”. That already hinted at tongue-in-cheek but yet helpful service that is to come.
That being said, there was still assistance at the lobby area upon arrival. The check-in kiosks were huge (so no fear of not seeing what to press) and the staff on duty was friendly and helpful.
When it comes to space, nothing beats Tokyo in cramped-ness. However, that does not mean there is sufficient space for one to waltz in a hub’s room.
The bed occupied one side of the room, and only 1 side of it is accessible; so if you are sharing the bed, the one who needs to go to the bathroom frequently has to sleep on the outer edge. The remainder of the room is sufficient for 1 opened suitcase, but that would also mean there is no space for maneuvering.
The ingenuity that made hub different from its competitors was the creative design of furniture and space.
The mattress was on top of a storage space; the open storage was good enough to keep 2 large suitcases, and there was a drawer-storage for other knick-knacks. At the foot of the bed (where the TV was also mounted), there was a mini-space sufficient to place your daily accessories like wallets and shopping. That itself could be extended into the empty space of the room to create more horizontal space, perfect for having a quick meal in the room.
The wall along the length of the bed was saved for a centre-piece wall-art, but there was also space wide enough for one to place his handphone or water bottles for use at night. The wall at the head of the bed contained the various electronic controls of the room, like turning on the TV, adjusting the light in the room, setting the aircon (which always reverted to 20C no matter how I set it).
There was also a chair, and the room had a window overlooking the courtyard (nothing fancy, but according to Tripadvisor reviews, there are windowless rooms).
Bathroom and Amenities
The bathroom was thankfully spacious enough and well-maintained. There was stock-shower foam, bath towels, so you will only need to bring facial cleanser, shampoo and toothbrush/toothpaste. There was also space to place one’s personal toiletries (I had half-expected the space in hub to be similar to that of ibis, so I am definitely happy with what hub has!).
The only downside is the lack of space to hang clothes / wet towels, which is a major headache! However, I noticed that the walls (including those in the room) were of glass-material. In other words, you can prepare for this lapse by bring your own suction hanger (I will recommend at least 2 per pax!)
Although hub is right in the city centre, there is still a lack of cheap, convenient eating places in the neighbourhood. Yes, we searched and searched… The nearest place that had a hub of food places was at the London Bridge underground station across Thames, and even over there, one can only mostly find pastries.
Therefore, for people like N and I, who look for grocery store the first thing after we checked in a hotel, this was a nightmare, because the nearest place we could buy mineral water seemed to be more than 1km walk away!
On a quiet Sunday, the café at the ground level of hub was the best solution for a quick bite. It does not serve main courses, but pastries that can fill one’s stomach before starting a day of touring. Even if you are like a typical Singaporean who would rather eat breakfasts at proper, local establishments, the café also provides free flow of coffee (yes, FREE OF CHARGE) to jumpstart your day!
There are 2 entrances to hub, one via the café facing the main street, and one from the side street. There was no dedicated security personnel, so I thought that any Tom, Dick and Harry could have walked in without much scrutiny. This is all the more worrying as it could get rather quiet at night (with drunk youngsters roaming about). However, the common areas of the rooms can only be reached via card access, so there was still a layer of security for guests.
As mentioned, hub is not located in the middle of the shopping district, so the place can get quiet at night and on weekends, and finding food can be a concern. At night, I preferred to take the Great Tower Street rather than Lower Thames Street; even though the latter is a main road, it got too quiet for comfort at night and Great Tower Street sees more traffic for a sense of security.
How To Get There
My prior experience with European city streets got me very concerned about how I could get to hub, as it seemed to be a distance away from the nearest underground. I made sure I went through Google satellite images thoroughly so that I would not end up missing the place totally.
Once out of Tower Hill underground, orientate yourself to face Tower of London (it’s humongous, so it can be seen from the station). Turn right and walk through Trinity Square Gardens to reach Byward Street. Turn right at the junction and aim for the next major junction of Great Tower Street and Byward Street.
Once at the junction, go further down Byward Street (it’s the road that slopes downwards) and hub will be on your right. Beware, because the façade of the hotel is small and easily missed!
Tower Bridge Hotel
28 Great Tower St, London EC3R 5AT, UK
+44 333 321 3104
Like My Review
If you find the tips helpful in deciding whether to stay at this hotel, or what to do when you stay here, do go to Tripadvisor, search for “Zenov” and like my review. Thank yoU!