BACKGROUND Moving on from planes, buses, cars and cruises, the Easygroup turned its hand to hotels in August 2005, with the opening of the first Easyhotel in London’s Lexham Gardens. There are now four Easyhotels in operation, three in London and one in Basel, while three further hotels are expected to open by the end of the year, in Budapest, Luton and Zurich. Although most of these establishments are owned by separate franchises, the brand claims to offer a high level of standardisation, both in the UK and globally. Like many of the Easygroup’s services, the hotels function on a book-early, pay-less basis, while facilities other than the basics are charged at a premium. So far, Easyhotels have proved extremely popular, leading the brand to announce plans to sign up 60 new franchisees in the next three years and to spread to more major European cities. Franchise agreements already signed include a deal with i.gen hotels, which plans to open 10 Easyhotels in Germany by 2011, and another with Istithmar Hotels, which plans to open a total of 38 Easyhotels in India, North Africa and the Middle East within the next five years. Easyhotel London Victoria opened in April and is owned by the Splendid Hotel Group, which also operates some Holiday Inn, Express by Holiday Inn, Comfort Inn and Best Western hotels.
WHAT’S IT LIKE? Although the word “Easy” in front of anything conjures up images of garish orange, the bright, clean reception has only a few splashes of the brand’s signature colour. I was greeted by friendly reception staff, who were more than happy to assist when I had trouble closing the window in my room, and helpfully printed out information about the nearest sushi restaurant when I enquired. The hotel has no communal areas except for the small reception, where a computer is available (but only for making Easyhotel bookings), along with a vending machine selling crisps, chocolate and drinks. There are five floors, including a lower ground floor, but no lift. Luggage storage is available in a locked room, observed by CCTV, and costs £5 for 12 hours (up to two items per room).
WHERE IS IT? On Belgrave Road, a quiet residential street, just five minutes walk from Victoria coach and train station. Pay and display car parking is available 8.30am-6.30pm (at other times it is free). Long-stay parking is also available at the Master Car Park, five minutes’ walk from the hotel.
HOW MANY ROOMS? 77, of which 39 are Standard (7-10 sqm), 34 are Small (6-7 sqm), and four are Special Needs (14 sqm).
ROOM FACILITIES Facilities are standard throughout the hotel, the only difference between the room types being floor space. All rooms have a double bed, two pillows and duvet, a large full-length mirror, wastepaper bin and flatscreen TV, with four radio channels and 16 TV channels, as well as air-con (this cannot be adjusted and was slightly noisy but otherwise fine). Remotes for the TV can be hired at reception, costing £5 for 24 hours. In my case, only one TV station and one radio station were available, but reception staff explained that the system was down and were very apologetic. There are two plug sockets in each room and wifi is available from Spectrum throughout the hotel (£5 per hour or £12 for a day pass). En-suite facilities consist of a shower, sink and toilet. A small shelf in the shower area is useful for toiletries, but apart from that there is little storage space available. In Small and Standard rooms the entire en-suite unit is only 1m x 2m. In Special Needs rooms en-suite facilities are much more spacious, with a floor space of around 2.5m x 3m, a larger shower area, and four shelves around the sink, which are useful as storage. These rooms are also fitted with a panic alarm and cord which, when pulled, alerts someone from reception to come to your aid (this definitely works – I pulled it by mistake, thinking it was a light switch). Storage space in the bedrooms consists of just two coat hooks, which was slightly annoying as in the larger rooms there is space by the bed for a small storage unit (although in Small rooms there is barely room next to the bed for a person, let alone a chest of drawers). I slept well on my mattress, which is the same as those used in other hotel brands managed by Splendid Hotel Group (this is not the case for all Easyhotels, just London Victoria). Décor in the room was extremely basic – no carpet or furnishings and, of course, a signature orange wall, complete with Easyhotel logo. I had a large window, with a net curtain and blind, which opened out onto a roof. Rooms with windows cost slightly more but it’s worth the extra few pounds because the windowless rooms were much darker and – especially the Small ones – felt a bit claustrophobic. Three standard rooms on the first-floor have a shared balcony, which faces out onto Belgrave Road.
RESTAURANTS AND BARS None.
BUSINESS AND MEETINGS FACILITIES No.
LEISURE FACILITIES No.
VERDICT If all you want is a bed for the night, somewhere to wash the following morning and a bit of (limited) TV to send you to sleep, this is a good bet. It is safe, clean, comfortable and friendly, as well as being extremely conveniently located.
PRICES Internet rates for a mid-week stay in mid-October start at £35 (cancellations and amendments are subject to a £10 fee).
CONTACT Easyhotel London Victoria, 36-40 Belgrave Road, London, SW1V 1RG; tel +44 (0)207 834 1379; easyhotel.com.