Budget Asian hotel brand Tune Hotels has opened its first London property close to Waterloo station, with plans to add 1,500 rooms across 15 London properties by 2017.
With the tagline “five-star beds at one-star prices”, the group is offering typical room rates starting from £35, although it says there will be regular promotional prices of just £9 per night.
Business Traveller visited the London property this morning, located around five minutes’ walk from London Waterloo station on Westminster Bridge Road. If visiting via the tube, exit right onto Waterloo Road, and take the first right at the corner of the Old Vic onto Bayliss Road – the property is a few minutes along this road, opposite North Lambeth Tube station.
The hotel is housed within a converted building which was once the headquarters of Lambeth Building Society, and now features 79 bedrooms (all doubles, with four accessible rooms). There are no leisure or meeting facilities, but there is a Costa Coffee concession on the ground floor of the building, for which the hotel has arranged a £4.95 continental breakfast package for guests.
First impressions are of modern, bright lobby area, with flashes of the brand’s signature red colour, a flatscreen TV on the wall, and an internet kiosk. Rooms are cosy, at an average of 8.5sqm (some corner rooms are larger, while there are also smaller basement rooms), and are again simply decorated, with laminate flooring, a patterned light green feature wall, a fold down laptop desk, and a storage section with a mirror and hangers.
As suggested by the tagline, the Hypnos beds (also used by the Marriott hotel group) are of a good quality, with mattress toppers, 250-thread count sheets, and under bed storage space. Bathroom “pods” are similar to those found in Ibis properties, and according to Tune Hotels include a “powerful ‘wake up’ shower”.
Following the low-cost airline model, and similar to rivals Easyhotel, the group charges for extras including towels (£1.50), a safe (£2), hairdryer (£1), TV with freeview channels (£3 per day or £10 per stay), and wifi internet access (£1.50 per hour or £3 per day). Unlike its sister properties in Malaysia and Indonesia however, there is no charge for air conditioning (either cool in the summer of warm in the winter).
Again adopting the low-cost model, Tune Hotels says it is the first group in the UK to offer in-room advertising, with two wall frames in each room available for hire.
The group is entering a crowded budget market in London, with established names including Travelodge, Premier Inn, Express by Holiday Inn, Ibis and Easyhotel, but CEO Mark Lankester says that key features including good beds and showers, plus the group’s dynamic pricing (meaning those booking early will get the lowest rates) will enable it to compete.
“London is the home of low-cost travel, with the likes Easyjet and Ryanair, so customers already have a comprehension of the low-cost model. We’re already offering bookings up until August 2011, so if guests be sensible and plan ahead then they can get a great price.”
Business travellers might not always have the luxury of planning trips far enough in advance to enjoy the £9 stays, which will be offered each time new blocks of reservations are opened, but Lankester says that even the more typical rates will attract the cost conscious corporate traveller. The hotel’s location close to Waterloo’s train and tube hub will also appeal to those looking for a central London location without the price tag.
The London hotel is the tenth property under the Tune Hotels brand, with seven established properties in Malaysia, and two in Bali. The group plans to open a total of 100 properties worldwide by 2015, with 15 hotels scheduled for the Greater London area by 2017.
Lankester would not be drawn on future London locations, although he said that the group would be finalising two zone 1 and 2 properties in the next few months. He also said that airport properties were under consideration, as were regional locations.
Elsewhere Tune Hotels is due to open its first Indian property in Bangalore next year, and has a total of 100 properties under development in the country, along with 54 in southeast Asia, and Lankester said that the group was also looking at locations in Latin America and China.
For more information visit tunehotels.com.
Report by Mark Caswell