BACKGROUND Z Hotels was founded by Bev King, the former chief operating officer at Thistle Hotels, and opened its first property in London's Soho in 2011 (see news, October 2011). It has since opened hotels in Victoria and Piccadilly, both in London, and in Liverpool and Glasgow. Z Shoreditch is the "urbanite stay" brand's sixth property and is located on City Road, just off Old Street roundabout. Like all Z properties, guestrooms are compact to make stays more affordable than they would otherwise be. As the press release has it: "You're staying in Shoreditch, where space is at a premium. But you're not paying a premium." WHAT'S IT LIKE? The four-floor Z Shoreditch is a converted former office building. Entering through two automatic sliding glass doors, a small reception desk and bar is on the left, while the lobby area to the right is filled with tables and chairs and doubles as a café. When I arrived on a weekday evening, this area contained guests on their laptops sipping complimentary hot drinks available from a machine 24 hours a day. WHERE IS IT? On City Road, a minute's walk from Old Street tube station and five minutes or so from Moorgate. There are numerous nearby bus routes. ROOM FACILITIES There are five guestroom categories — Z Inside Double, Z Inside Queen, Z Double, Z Queen, Z Accessible — with a sixth coming soon. This sixth Z Queen Queens category will be a large room containing two double beds, one above the other, with a staircase leading up to the second bed in a separate space. Z Inside Double is the cheapest category and room rates start from £59 per night. The "Inside" refers to the fact that those rooms are windowless and may prove claustrophobic for some. They are designed for guests whose priority is to stay out late and then sleep in as cheap a room as possible. I was staying on the lower ground floor in a Z Queen room, the hotel's second largest category, at the front of the hotel. As anticipated, the room was still a little on the small side. A large window with a blackout blind looked out into a subterranean area and up to the street above, while a separate fire escape door had frosted glass. As a result, the room was lighter than you might expect on the lower ground floor. Z Queen room Fortunately, the window was double-glazed, keeping the traffic noise from the very busy City Road outside to a surprising minimum. At regular intervals, however, there was a gentle rumbling noise caused by the Northern Line passing in both directions below. This didn't bother me at all, but those who have trouble sleeping might want to avoid the lower ground floor. The room contained a large double bed next to the window, as well as a small desk with UK and international sockets, a kettle with tea bags and coffee sachets, a large glass bottle of mineral water, a hair dryer and a 48-inch television. Frankly, a 48-inch television, which features in every room regardless of category, is ridiculously oversized in a hotel that specialises in compact affordable rooms. There was no wardrobe; instead, there are eight hooks on an area of the wall designed for placing clothes on hangars. There is also a small amount of space to store luggage under the bed. An iron and ironing board was available on request. However, because there was no telephone in the room, a growing trend in budget properties that I'm not a fan of, I had to walk to reception to ask for this. The large walk-in shower was located in an ensuite "wet room", which was separated from the bedroom area by a glass partition with frosted glass going up to about the five-foot mark. The room had plenty of space for the single business traveller. It would also suit a couple not too fussed about having a huge amount of room as the simple layout was effective in making the most of limited space. RESTAURANTS AND BARS Open 24 hours a day in the lobby area, the Z Café provides free hot drinks for guests. Like in other Z properties, food and drink bought in this area must be paid for at the time of purchase and cannot be charged to the room. A buffet breakfast featuring croissants, cereals and fruit is available until 1100 on weekdays, or 1130 on weekends, and costs £12.50 per person. Among the items on offer at lunch are mezze platters from £7.95. Alcoholic drinks including beer, wine and Champagne are also available to buy. BUSINESS AND MEETING FACILITIES None LEISURE FACILITIES None VERDICT The no-nonsense, good value room will be attractive to those on a budget who just want somewhere basic but smart to sleep for the night. This new London hotel is clean, efficient and the staff friendly. FACT FILE
- HOW MANY ROOMS? 111 — seven Z Inside Double (no windows), 47 Z Inside Queen (no windows), 20 Z Double, 26 Z Queen, six Z Accessible, one Z Single. There will shortly be four Z Queen Queens.
- HIGHLIGHTS The room was clean, the bed very comfortable and the breakfast, which costs extra, tasty.
- PRICE Internet rates for a non-refundable midweek stay in a Z Queen room in mid-June started at £143.
- CONTACT Z Shoreditch, 136-144 City Road, London, EC1V 2RL; +44 (0)20 3551 3702; thezhotels.com