BACKGROUND Owned by Whitbread, Premier Inn launched its new Hub concept in November with the opening of its Covent Garden property. The company has bought another seven sites in London (Bank, Farringdon, King’s Cross, Shoreditch, Tottenham Court Road, Tower Bridge and Westminster) plus three in Edinburgh. WHAT’S IT LIKE? Hub is following the lead of compact no-frills brands such as Yotel and Bloc, which offer small, well-designed rooms for short stays and not much in the way of extra facilities. Hub’s aim is to create hotels that combine style, comfort, low prices (from £79) and good locations, and the inaugural property seems to have achieved this. You check in at one of three space-age touchscreen kiosks, which issues you with a room key and allows you to pay for breakfast. Beyond is a backlit wall with a map of London and live Tube updates. There is also a staffed desk. Access to all corridors requires a room key. The colour scheme is funky lime green, grey, brown and white, and wifi is free. The Hub app (for Android and Apple devices) allows you to book stays, control the TV, temperature and lighting in your room, and order breakfast. If you use your phone to scan the map of London on your wall, it will even show you restaurants and places of interest. All this sounds fun but I couldn’t download the app. WHERE IS IT? On St Martin’s Lane, a short walk from Trafalgar Square and Covent Garden. ROOM FACILITIES All rooms (except larger Accessible ones) are 11.4 sqm and have identical fixtures. Most have daylight – those without windows cost the same, but you will be informed when booking. Features include a raised Premier Inn Hypnos bed with a section at the end that extends to form a narrow workdesk (this isn’t obvious). You have to make up the bed yourself (sheets are already on) but it is very comfortable. There is space underneath to store luggage. Along with a 40-inch smart TV with free movies and a media hub (the TV didn’t work for me), there is an armchair, a place to hang clothes, several UK and international plug sockets, black-out blinds, a hairdryer and a free bottle of water. The frosted glass-walled bathroom had a combined rain and hand-held shower and a mini shower gel. Note that there isn’t much privacy for two people sharing. When I came back to my room in the evening, the drain smelt bad (the windows don’t open). There are no phones so you have to go to reception if you have a problem. You might find Standard rooms claustrophobic, but I thought they were fine (they are bigger than the Yotel’s). RESTAURANTS AND BARS Proven Dough café is open from 11.30am to 10pm. Tasty breakfast boxes are available for £8, and during the day you can order mini pizzas, hot pots and salads. There is plenty of seating at sit-up counters and in the lounge, where there are armchairs and tablet computers for guests to use. BUSINESS AND MEETING FACILITIES None. LEISURE FACILITIES None. VERDICT An excellent new budget concept – I experienced some teething problems with the technology but once these are sorted it should be really good. The location of this hotel is also great, and the staff are welcoming. FACT FILE
- HOW MANY ROOMS? 163 – 147 Standard, 16 Accessible.
- HIGHLIGHTS Free wifi, speedy check-in kiosks, a handy café and well-designed rooms with comfy beds.
- PRICE Internet rates for a flexible midweek stay in March started from £123 for a Standard room.
- CONTACT Hub by Premier Inn London Covent Garden, 110 St Martin’s Lane; hubhotels.co.uk