This new Travelodge Plus hotel opened at the end of July 2018 and is the company’s 75th hotel in the capital. It’s Travelodge’s largest new-build hotel and is also the flagship for the new brand.
Travelodge Plus claims to offer a “budget chic” experience, with a greater focus on design and a wider choice of room categories, as well as a new style Bar/Café. It’s part of a strategy to overhaul the poor reputation Travelodge has earned over the years. Financial restructuring in 2012 saw its ownership transfer to GoldenTree Asset Management, Avenue Capital Group and Goldman Sachs.
Where is it?
In east London just off Aldgate High Street, seven minutes’ walk from 30 St Mary Axe (aka The Gherkin) and three minutes’ walk from both Aldgate (for the Circle and Metropolitan lines) and Aldgate East (for the District and Hammersmith and City lines) underground stations. Liverpool Street Station is also under 15 minutes walk away.
What’s it like?
I must confess, my expectations weren’t high having stayed at a Travelodge attached to motorway services somewhere in Wiltshire a number of years ago and found it a fairly bleak experience. My sense of anticipation wasn’t raised by the absence of any distinctive markers for the new brand, other than an easily missable sign on the doors, which made the concept feel like a token gesture rather than a confident step forward.
However, from the outside the building looks appealing – smart and contemporary with lots of windows; it certainly doesn’t have a budget feel. Inside, the design is more style conscious than is typical for a Travelodge. Those large windows illuminate the open-plan ground floor, which features light wood (laminate) flooring and mainly white walls, with splashes of colour through fabrics, rugs and accent walls.
Reception is on the right as you enter, with both a check-in desk and automated check-in machines. I went for the traditional desk option and staff were polite and helpful. The hotel already seems very popular with check in fairly busy with a mix of families, tourists and business people when I arrived.
There are 395 rooms, with two categories – Standard and Super. All rooms feature a king-size bed, Samsung freeview TV, blackout curtains, desks and USB and AV sockets.
I was in a Super room, around £20 more than the Standard room. These offer more creature comforts, including a Lavazza coffee machine, hair dryer, iron and ironing board, and are stylishly decorated in a palette of subtle grey and blue. I even had views of the Gherkin from the window. It’s quiet and comfortable, and I slept extremely well in the good-quality bed.
There are two unexpected surprises. One is the handy beer bottle opener attached to the desk. It may not sound very much, but little things like this give a thoughtful, human touch to a hotel room.
Another is that there is a bath in the en suite, a rare treat in a London hotel. A good Hansgrohe raindance shower is over this, with basic toiletries for body and hair provided.
Wifi is free for 30 minutes, thereafter you have to pay £3 for 24 hours.
Food and drink
The hotel’s Bar/Café is to the left on the ground floor as you enter. It offers an array of seating formats – bars, booths and tables – in different zones to appeal to both business and leisure travellers. Much of the seating has provision for USB and AC power, while the design itself is appealing; unfussy yet inviting and colourful with contemporary furniture and pendant lights.
It’s a pleasant place for a drink and there were several people doing just this on my visit. However, do bear in mind that the hotel obviously draws families looking for a cheap London break and so business travellers could find this space a little hectic for getting their head down and work done. That said, the desk area in my Super room offered adequate provision for this.
The menu offers a simple selection of burgers, pizza, pies, curries, roast chicken and chips and salads, all priced at under £10, and this is also where an unlimited buffet breakfast is served (£8.95 and free for children). It was perfectly good, with juice, coffee, fried breakfast, plus yoghurts and pastries.
There are no leisure facilities at the hotel.
There are no dedicated meeting rooms, though the set-up of the restaurant/bar area means informal meetings could easily be carried out here.
I was unexpectedly impressed with the Travelodge Plus, and the extra £20 or so for a Super room is money well spent. This new hotel has a much more chic feel than you might expect from the no-frills chain. The bar and restaurant are stylish, appealing spaces and my room is very comfortable, quiet and well-appointed. If you’re looking for an affordable yet pleasant room in central London, this is well worth considering and a step up from the typical Travelodge experience.