Z Hotels is a fast-expanding brand that aims at central locations and achieves low prices by offering small rooms and limited service. It was set up by Bev King, ex CEO of Thistle Hotels and some business partners, and their knowledge of what works and what doesn’t mean the hotels are a pleasure to stay at. I’ve previously stayed in one on the Strand in London and was very impressed.
The brand has a cheeky persona, which, normally, would irritate me to the point I’d stay somewhere else but, importantly, the attitude – which probably plays well with younger and leisure guests – is also backed up by the sort of quality and service that regular travellers value.
What’s it like?
Each of the hotels is very different. This one is a conversion of an office block in Soho with a small reception. There were two people on reception when I arrived at 1710 and both greeted me with a smile, offered to help, took all the relevant details and told me they were already serving wine and cheese at the first-floor café.
All rooms are served by a single lift serving the seven floors. I found this quite slow, and so after using the first time with my bags thereafter just used the stairs (I was on floor 5).
Where is it?
On Poland St in Soho, about two minutes’ walk from Oxford Street and five minutes from Tottenham Court Road Underground Station (and new Crossrail station). It’s a good location because the one-way street isn’t busy and is only 200 metres from Carnaby Street and Kingly Court, with its dozens of restaurants in and around the area. The entrance is next to the Comptoir Libanais restaurant and you might miss it at first. I thought the restaurant with people sitting outside might be a disturbance but I never heard them.
The 121 rooms are on six floors (the ground floor is just the reception). All the rooms are small, ranging from 9-11 sqm. The smallest, and least expensive, are the Z Inside double rooms, which are inward facing and then a Z Double, which have windows. The Queen rooms are the largest.
The corridors have carpet, which is good for sound-proofing. One of my concerns when you have rooms this small is that people tend to spend time in the corridors, especially if they are part of a group, which has booked a few rooms on the same floor. I saw a bit of that, with one girl making a Skype call by the lifts, but otherwise it was very quiet, with windows that kept out the noise of the street.
I was in the larger category Z Double room, which is almost entirely filled by the bed, with the result that if two are sharing, one of you will have to clamber over the other to get out. As I was on my own, this wasn’t a problem.
The room has very strong, but quite quiet air conditioning, which is easy to use and control the temperature, and an en-suite shower room with glass partitions, decent toiletries and excellent towels (both hand towel and bath towel). The shower wasn’t the strongest but was perfectly adequate and probably saves a lot of water.
There is a 49-inch HD Samsung TV with the complete Sky package including all sports and movies.
The blinds are electronically controlled and were very effective. There is complimentary bottled water, tea and coffee and hot chocolate and a kettle on the good-sized bedside table, along with power points and USBs for charging.
There is no wardrobe, but instead, five hooks and some wooden hangers for hanging clothes. Details such as the pine backboard for the television, a grey padded backboard to the hooks and a padded bed head prevent the scheme from looking too sparse.
The lights can be controlled from a panel with various presets including a reading light over the bed (this could have been a bit brighter, but then, I’m old). There was also a pad and paper. The bed was firm and very comfortable, with good size pillows.
Food and drink
The Z café on the first floor serves wine and cheese and bread in the evening for a couple of hours, and a continental breakfast in the morning. It’s a small room and can get quite pressed for room at busy times.
I was nearly barged out of the way of the buffet at one point in the evening, but then realised it was a father rushing to get some water for his child who was choking on an olive. (The child was fine after a bit of coughing – no need for a Heimlich manoeuvre).
The food offering is very well executed, and the chargeable (£9.50) breakfast had cereals and a bacon sandwich in the morning which someone will warm up for you (it was delicious) as well as tea and coffee, Britta chilled and filtered water and orange and apple juice. You can also buy items such as simple food and coffee from here during the day – though with so many options outside you’re unlikely to need to utilise this service.
The Z Hotels operates a kind of membership club where discounts are available for direct booking through its website. Having stayed in two of them now in London I’d be very tempted to try the other locations as well. It’s good value for money and yet you don’t feel like you are staying in a budget property. Firmly recommended.
Great value for money in the centre of town, free wifi, Sky Sports and Movies for a night in.
The wine and the choice of cheeses and bread in the evening.