Hubba Hubba – A Review of HUB by Premier Inn

Oh hi there. Happy New Year and all that. I hope you all had a good one. I certainly did…I managed to score it off work on account of boyfriend flying in for the occasion, so that was a treat. We spent it in London, which was more hassle than it sounds on paper. If you’ve ever tried to find somewhere to stay on New Years Eve in a major city without it costing the earth, you’ll understand the struggle. Every one of our go-to hotels had hiked their prices up to about four times the usual rate, but rightly so if you ask me – it is the biggest night of the year, why the hell wouldn’t they. Just as we were about to succumb to paying the extortionate rates, I took a punt at checking the Premier Inn website. I don’t often bother anymore for London hotel searches, because, and I wonder if anyone else has noticed this, Premier Inn got premier prices! Often we’re managed to bag a night in a 5 star Tower Bridge spot for almost the same price as a PI, with rates often exceeding £150 per night even on weeknights. Anyway, I came across the new HUB hotel, which is a new brand under the Premier Inn umbrella. I had briefly heard about the concept a while back, but wasn’t aware it was already underway. The idea is basically smart techno compact hotels in key cities, which don’t claim to boast ample space or leisure facilities, but do offer savvy space saving rooms for both business and pleasure travellers. This was priced at £140 per night for Tuesday 30th and Wednesday 31st December (so right over NYE). In comparison to other offerings, nothing else at this price was anywhere near as central.

We read some reviews before we left, and were a little concerned about the space, noise complaints, and the apparent glitches with the completely new and innovative app controlled in-room features, but having been ourselves, I really felt I needed to write this review as people are clearly unrealistic in their expectations of this hotel concept, and are not seeing it for what it is. UTTERLY FANTASTIC. The existing reviews do not do it justice at all, so give this a read before you snub the Hub!

It opened late in 2014, and is snuggled in between Trafalgar Square and Covent Garden, on St Martin’s Lane. The location is undoubtedly faultless. One step outside and you’re in the middle of theatreland, a few minutes walk from any tube line or us route you want, more restaurants and bars than I can count, and loads of tourist spots (Trafalgar Square, Piccadilly Circus, Leicester Square, The Strand, Covent Garden, Oxford Street….to name but a few!).

Upon check in, I was greeted by a friendly receptionist, and I proceeded to one of the check in points. I stood there for a second glaring at it questioning how, at 23, the technological era seems to have swallowed me up and spat me out, and it began to dawn on me that a five year old in this day and age could probably decode this robot better than I could. Luckily, the aforementioned receptionist trotted over and began to translate. She instructed me to open my Hub by Premier Inn app on my iPhone and bring up my booking and the QR code that came with it (that’s those funny splodges that look like space invaders that somehow contain data). I scanned it and my booking appeared on the screen. I filled in the necessary details, and chose whether or not we wanted any breakfast delivered during our stay. I declined, but don’t worry, you can order it at a later time using your app! You then pick up a room card from the stack on the machine, swipe it, and tah-dah, you’re checked in! Despite being filled with glee at my exceptional check in experience, I proceeded to our room with a slight apprehension at what would await. Half of me was expecting a pokey dormitory fit for an army of mice, but I remained positive. The corridors were wide, everything was sparklingly new and sleek.

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We had been given an accessible room, as that was all that was available at the time of booking, so I had hoped our “mouse dorm” might have a bit more space. WELL. A bit more space you ask? It. Was. Huge. Room 501 greeted me with a large wet room bathroom, ample floor space, a large double bed, plenty of storage for suitcases, and a million well-placed plug sockets (which is a real game changer for me in hotel rooms). Previous reviews complained that there was no tea and coffee making facilities, which, no, there wasn’t, but a complimentary lounge on the ground floor serves hot drinks free of change 24 hours a day, which is really better than a few tea bags and long life milk on a tray, isn’t it?!

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One of the coolest features of the HUB, is the use of the app to control in-room features like temperature and lighting. Don’t panic, if you’re still in a happy relationship with your Nokia 3310, you can still stay here. Please please ignore all the reviews that are marinated in a snide “you’ve got to have a smartphone” tone, because you don’t. There’s a modern panel above your head in bed with touch buttons, which contrary to some reviews, you absolutely DO NOT accidentally lean on with your pillows, unless you insist on sleeping on a 10 foot pile of cushions. The air con was brilliant to cool the room down, and the second it got to chilly, turning the temperature back up quickly adjusted the room a warmer setting. It really bothers me when hotel rooms are too hot or too cold, so it was really nice to be able to adjust it yourself. Noise was not a problem at all. We expected a certain level of noise with it being New Years Eve, and expected other couples like us to be coming in quite late, but we didn’t hear a peep out of anyone, despite the hotel being full.

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I would say the only downside is that their isn’t a phone to contact reception. Our smart TV was playing up, but I called the main hotel number from my phone and they sent someone right away to fix it. The staff were pleasant, check in and out was super easy, the rooms were a fine size and extremely well equipped, and the location was faultless. Overall a fantastic stay, not to mention the crash course in 21st century technology that comes with operating the intelligently stylish features.

If you’re looking for a plush, boutique hotel stay with ample leisure facilities and room service, then no, this isn’t for you, and I won’t pretend it is. But a high number of visitors to London are simply looking for a reliable, comfortable crash pad, close to everything they want to see and do, without it costing the earth. This is certainly that. Overall, a fantastic addition to the Premier Inn group. I can’t wait to try more locations!

Click here to see the Hub by Premier Inn website and book your London stay now!

Home on the Grange – The Grange Hotel Review

Heyyyyy…Today I bring you a hotel review I’ve been meaning to do forever! I love visiting hotels in London, (even if it’s not to stay in, just for a nose around!), and this one was one of my favourites, so much so that we extended our one night stay to two nights, completely on a whim!

The bf and I visited the 5* Grange Hotel Tower Bridge in London on Valentines Day after getting such a good promotional rate, and we couldn’t have asked for more. The room came complete with robes and slippers, a super comfy bed (and it was huge), a plush bathroom, and a well stocked mini bar! We took a little video of our room here!

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We took advantage of the spa facilities, which included a large pool with surrounding lounge beds, foot baths, a sauna and steam room, and a large jacuzzi. Being Valentines Day it was quite busy, but definitely not as bad as we were expecting!

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We ordered room service during the night, to fully exploit the 24 hour service, and the food was amazing! We ordered a bread selection, which came warm and fresh with a selection of butters, a burger and fries (delicious!), and at some point during the stay, my boyfriend ordered himself a club sandwich, which I’m told was delightful, I just wasn’t there to taste it! (I was still en route from work at this point! Talk about liberties!). Condiments were served in those tiny individual jars by Heinz and Helmans, which basically sells any hotel to me – I’m absolutely obsessed with minis! Oh, we also ordered some cheeky nachos at some ungodly hour! (Yeah, we like food okay!)

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 We had breakfast included, and it was definitely worth it! If you don’t have it included in your rate, I would most certainly recommend you add it on. I always say breakfast is a real deal breaker in hotels, and can really draw the line between star ratings. Particularly for a London hotel breakfast, this one was excellent. A wide range of hot and cold options, including cereals, fruit, an extensive pastry range (which I fuelled up on and dipped in the individual nutella portions, inviting severe judgemental looks from the couple next to us!), and best of all, HASH BROWNS. Sorry, but anywhere serving hash browns, particularly on a buffet so I can devour them until I’m neck deep, really gets an instant thumbs up from me! But seriously, hash browns aside, the offering really was great. When there’s brie available for consumption before 11am, who can complain!

The location is really good too. Just a few minutes walk and you’re at Tower Bridge – great photo opportunity. I really love going to touristy spots in London, even though I live here. Its one of those things you always say you’ll do, but things always get in the way, and when its right on your doorstep, you take it for granted. But the Grange Hotel Tower Bridge is positioned in the perfect spot to soak up the amazing city that London really is. There’s truly no place like it. From the hotel you can take easy transport links via the District Line, or various bus routes to get to anywhere you want to go. You can walk to The Shard and London Dungeons, explore the area around London Bridge (lots of good places to eat), and most importantly, shop! There is no better place to collapse after a marathon round Selfridges than the Grange Hotel beds!!! Perfect squish to firmness ratio in my opinion!

The Grange group actually has 16 hotels in London, all four and five star, and all in amazing locations to see the best of London – St Pauls, City, Holborn (great access to Oxford Street, and the Ajala Spa here looks amazing!), Fitzrovia, and tons more. I am desperate to visit the St Paul’s hotel. It looks amazing! There’s a Sky Bar which I think can only be hired for meetings and events *CRYS*, but I’m dying to get up there and see it! The bf is flying back from Aus in July (incase I hadn’t already mentioned 200000 times – sorry!), so we’ll hopefully take a visit there, maybe to celebrate my imminent pensioner status (yes, I’m TWENTY THREE on Monday). I’m keen to see Holborn too. Reviews will definitely follow! (Just not three months later this time, and with much better photos!)

So. Yeah. If you’re looking to visit the divine city of London, or you live here and fancy a night of luxury, Grange Hotels definitely get the Coco seal of approval! Follow them on Twitter and Instagram (@grangehotels) too! They post great updates and photos!

Night all

Coco xx

 

The coolest thing I’ve seen in ages…One Fine Stay: The Unhotel

Today, I came across one of the coolest things I have ever seen in all my years as a hotel obsessive – One Fine Stay. Basically, in a nut shell, it is the real life, living embodiment of the Cameron Diaz and Kate Winslet house-swap-come-romantic-comedy that captured our hearts in the film, The Holiday, in 2006. Okay, so it was kiiiind of Jude Law that stole our hearts, but the scene that brought us Kate Winslet’s oh so British arrival in the LA mansion was complete gold.

So, as I was saying. People let out their homes and you can book to stay in them for a few days, just as you would a hotel. You can even book online, just as you would do for a hotel. Its super easy! The best part is, as if you weren’t sold already, is you even get the hotel treatment, even though you’re staying in someone’s home. The guys at One Fine Stay are on hand for anything you need 24/7. They’ll either sort it for you over the phone, or pop on over like a handy, constant beck and call, neighbour! You also don’t have to sacrifice your haul of mini toiletries! They even sort all of this for you too, and there’s optional maid service, so you still don’t have to make your bed! It really is a home away from home, with a sprinkling of the glitter and glamour that you get with a hotel stay. Basically, you get total control of the sundae (your holiday), and One Fine Stay are the cherry on top! They even have a ‘home truths’ section on each property, giving you the black and white downsides or limitations, i.e. lack of TV.

Obviously, the downside would be that you do have to be super duper careful. No crazy parties and a smashing spree of the mantlepiece’s resident ornaments! These properties are owned by the world’s elite. Treat their home as if it were yours.

So, having been completely stunned and elated by the entire idea, I gave the website a good old scour, and picked out some of my favourite properties, to show you what sort of thing is available! These beauties will certainly make you reconsider your next visit to Late Rooms 😉

MAYFAIR – LONDON, UK

One Fine Stay have branded this property the bricks and mortar embodiment of George Clooney or Marilyn Monroe, and take a peep inside and you’ll see exactly why. Boasting two original fireplaces, an all round opulent feel, and artistic furnishings, this two bed two bath 17th century property is the ideal spot for a luxury stay in the British capital. Nightly rates around £400.

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CHELSEA – LONDON, UK

If, like me, you’ve been embarrassingly transfixed by the likes of Marc Francis, Spencer Matthews and Millie Macintosh on Made in Chelsea, then a couple of nights pretending you’re part of the glittering wonderland that is Chelsea life, would be an absolute dream.  With One Fine Stay, you most certainly can. This property on Cheyne Walk comes complete with amazing views from the chic balcony overlooking the harbour, vintage style interiors and an all over air of purity, evident from the abundance of white hues. Also with two bedrooms and two bathrooms, you and three friends can make like the MIC cast from £280 per night. All of the upper class amenities of the Royal Borough are all close by too.

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NEW YORK, USA

This New York Soho loft looks like the set of so many American sitcoms, namely New Girl. The exposed brick and high ceilings just exude the coolness of your average New Yorker, and you can get a slice of the action from $299 per night. The owner is an architecture and design connoisseur, with a love of photography and contemporary art, which is evident across the decor of the open plan living room of the apartment. The stylish bed (photographed) is a unique touch to the classic white themed bedroom, with a door-less three step decent to the artistic bathroom. Screen shot 2013-09-11 at 15.45.10 Screen shot 2013-09-11 at 15.45.20 Screen shot 2013-09-11 at 15.45.39

PARIS, FRANCE

This Parisian apartment is owned by the coolest Grandmother I’ve ever heard of. The site states that when she’s not sipping on a café crème, she’s chatting on Instagram and Facebook. Now she sounds like my kind of temporary landlady to me! Her hip-ness is reflected in her elegant, classic styled apartment, featuring original parquet floors. Vintage, antique furniture graces the living space, while a contrastingly modern kitchen depicts the fun and wild character of its owner. Located on the Rue Raynouard, this apartment is nestled in a quiet and secluded spot, close to the River Seine.

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I really could blog all day about these properties, but I’ll let you explore the rest for yourselves. Its giving me inspiration for my next birthday, actually. I’ll be 23 next June (scary!), and perhaps whisking myself and my closest girls off somewhere to pretend we’re rich and famous for a few nights would be so much fun. Pamper nights on the leather corner sofa, living it up like locals on the streets of some of the best cities in the world, and dinner parties on the glass dining tables?! Perfection!

Have a good week, all! Only two days til Friday!

All my love

Coco xx

All photographs remain owned by One Fine Stay.

A Secluded Sanctuary: Limewood Hotel, New Forest

Today’s post is one I have been meaning to do for a couple of weeks now. Its a gorgeous spot in the New Forest that I just have to tell you about. While I constantly plug the bright lights and the big city of London, and am not usually a countryside, middle of nowhere type of girl (despite having grown up there), this spot is a haven for relaxation and luxury, and one of the few exceptions to my rule.

Limewood Hotel, based in Lyndhurst in Hampshire, surrounded by green forests and neighbours to a whole host of wildlife, is a Regency county manor house. On site is a luxury spa, Max’s Bar (home to the best Martini in Hampshire) and15 boutique bedrooms and 14 delectable suites, many boasting private gardens, open fires, and glamourous bathing facilities.

My recent visit was for Afternoon Tea for my 22nd birthday, and I can tell you, it was certainly better than a lot of teas you will find in London (yes, you heard it here, I badmouthed London. Don’t tell anyone!). At £23.00 per stand (which includes four finger sandwiches, two scones and four cakes), you can share one between two people, and its just the perfect amount. The scones were fresh and warm, and the cake selection was one of the best I have ever tasted. The best part has got to be between the tiny plant pot (yes, plant pot) of rich chocolate mousse, and the smooth, moist carrot cake cubes, so definitely save those ’til last! They also offer huge range of loose leaf teas to choose from (though I admit I was boring and stuck to English Breakfast), and we also sampled their lattes. As self confessed coffee addicts, we can be hard to please, but the sleek glass tumbler of rich, smoothly blended beans really did impress.

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Picture: My own

The service is faultless, and I don’t think the words ‘short staffed’ and Limewood have ever been used in the same sentence. There are elegant, waistcoat wearing barmen on every corner, and a blonde haired young chap donning a tan leather greeted us at our car (which we were able to park on the lawn, might we add) and showed us through to the Hartnett and Holder Co. restaurant.

The hand lotion in the bathrooms is to die for, and you’d be missing out if you didn’t explore the grounds during your visit. Open plan and natural without being overwhelming, the grounds of the hotel boast two tree swings (oh yes!), floral trellises, quiet seating areas, patio terrace and sculptures.

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Pictures: My own

I am yet to sample the Herb House Spa, which opened in late 2010, so is still brand spanking new. Amidst peaceful treatment rooms and sun beds surrounding the outdoor steaming hot bubble pool, the spa offers a Mud House, Hydropool, Caldariam, Massive Forest Sauna, and an indoor swimming pool.

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Picture from: Limewood Hotel Website

For £195 per person, the retreat for two includes a choice of various massage or facial treatments, Mud House, set lunch in Raw and Cured (spa restaurant) and full use of the spa facilities all day.

This place is a real treat. Even if you’re next pay cheque is going on car repairs or rent, pop in for a coffee or a cocktail. The grounds sell themselves and you’ll get to enjoy the relaxing atmosphere before booking in your spa day or mini break 😉

Oh, and follow Limewood Hotel on Twitter @LimewoodHotel, and Instagram @limewoodhotel! (And meeee, if you want to! @Scrambled_Emma!)

Toodles

Coco

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Picture: My own

Im wearing: Baroque cigarette trousers, Next; nude peep toes, New Look; chiffon camisole, Primark (whoops); white blazer, Next; cube necklace, Accessorise.