WHAT’S IT LIKE? This is a small, stylish boutique hotel, which opened last March and is a minute’s walk from Ealing North tube station. It should appeal to both business and leisure travellers with its close proximity to Heathrow, Wembley Arena and Stadium and easy access to central London. The whitewashed exterior belies the slick interior, with its minimalist-style décor with browns and creams and sudden splashes of colour on the walls with original artwork from artist Sudhir Deshpande (known as India’s answer to Jackson Pollock).
With only 25 rooms, the hotel offers a more personal experience than most business hotels, and the staff are all friendly and keen to help. Laura, the Spanish receptionist, had a little trouble explaining the hotel was once a “house of disrepute” – I worked it out when she smiled and pointed at the tongue-in-cheek red light outside. There is also a small landscaped garden and covered terrace with outdoor heaters. There is space for around five cars to park at the front of the hotel (on a first-come, first-served basis).
WHERE IS IT? On Hanger Lane in Ealing. The nearest tube station is North Ealing (I could see it from my bedroom window) and it is a 20-minute tube ride on the Piccadilly line to Heathrow, although you will have to change at Acton Town to get on to the other branch. A taxi to Heathrow costs US$50. It takes 30 minutes to get into central London on the Piccadilly line.
HOW MANY ROOMS? 25, with two ground-floor rooms adapted for less-able guests.Room facilities: All rooms have the same amenities and décor, the only difference being the size – some are attic rooms with slanted ceilings. My room was 204, on the top floor overlooking the garden. The rooms are simply styled with dark brown and cream décor, roll-down material blinds, and great fluffy pillows and duvets in Egyptian cotton bedding. There are armchairs, flat-screen TVs on the wall, air conditioning, a fridge (but no minibar), an electronic safe (small for my laptop), telephone, tea and coffee-making facilities in the wardrobe, hairdryer and a full-length mirror. Free broadband internet access is available in all rooms and there is free Wi-Fi access in the public spaces, which also reaches most of the rooms. There was no desk in the room, but a pouf and small table area under the TV. Bathrooms are compact but sleek and modern, with a power shower and Molton Brown toiletries. You have a key card to access the room (and the front door of the hotel), which doubles up as the electricity card.
RESTAURANTS AND BARS: The bar is run by passionate mixologist, chef and F&B manager Rory Gordon-Davis, who will make any cocktail you like and explain the whole “muddling”, “fusion” and “building” processes too. The bar has a large flat-screen TV on the wall and when I was there several guests were working on their laptops. The space opens out onto the conservatory lounge (recently refurbished), with sofas and comfy chairs around glass-topped tables, overlooking the garden and terrace. Continental buffet breakfast (included in the room price) is served here – 0700-1000 weekdays, 0730-1030 weekends – with cereals, cold meats and a selection of cheese and pastries. The hotel does not have a restaurant but is linked to three local restaurants (Thai, Japanese and Indian) chosen by Gordon-Davis, so you can order off the menu and it will be delivered. I went out to the Thai option – Butlers Thai Café – and was delighted with the unpretentious, authentic restaurant and superb dishes with no colours or MSG (main courses are around US$10).
BUSINESS FACILITIES: There are no meeting rooms, but the breakfast room can be used for meetings between 1100 and 1700.
LEISURE FACILITIES: None.
VERDICT: The location is good for Heathrow and central London (although if you want to be near Heathrow, you may as well stay at an airport hotel and cut out any travel). But the price with internet access and breakfast included is great, considering how close it is to central London. The friendly staff make the experience more personal than the usual large chain hotels.
PRICE: Internet rates for a midweek stay in mid-October start from US$191 nightly, including breakfast and taxes.
CONTACT: 55 Hanger Lane, Ealing, London, www.hotel-55-london.co.uk