In which I stay in Travelodge Southwark and wash m...

In which I stay in Travelodge Southwark and wash my hair with a bar of soap

London’s a wonderful place. But London hotels really aren’t, setting the ol’ bank balance back at least a few hundred pounds for a night. And if they’re not expensive, they’re the size of a shoebox. Sure, I may live under an hour away from the city, but it’s still annoying having to get anywhere early. You know what’s even more annoying? Missing the last train home, and having to catch an array of night buses, each containing their very own selection of London’s, er, specialest people.

So when the boy’s parents were travelling the long, cold, and rough journey from deepest, darkest Cumbria to our nation’s capital, it was only logical I was going to book a hotel stay. With a trip to the Shard planned (hey, we all need to impress) this would give me enough time to have a good sleep, get ready and travel over without too much fuss.

I booked in one night at Travelodge Southwark. I love this little part of London. It’s not as hipster as Shoreditch and Dalston, yet can still make for a great night out. It’s near enough the river for a walk into West End, the Strand and Covent Garden, too. My only experience of a Travelodge was a good few years ago when I managed to bag a cheapy room in the Midlands for a weekend away, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. But rates were reasonable at £72 for a double room, so I thought it was worth a punt.

The hotel itself is a moment’s walk from Southwark station, past a huge office building and loads of Soviet-style council tower blocks. The area doesn’t look the most appealing – it’s no Kensington – but it’s oh so convenient. It’s weird that there’s so much security at the hotel (you need your keycard to get in at night, and reception is on the first floor) but again, it’s a rough and ready area.

The rooms are fine. Basic, and very large, so there’s enough space for two people to get ready for a night out. The main selling point apparently is their beds. Their new mattresses are designed for a good night’s sleep, even if you sleep next to a fidgeter, or a snorer, or a takes-half-the-duvet kind. And I’m pleased to say they are lovely and comfy, and very big. I slept like a baby for most of the night. The room was on the 6th floor, so high enough not to get disturbed by noise on the street. I’d recommend you ask for a room as high as possible, especially as there’s the really quirky (and loud) pub The Lord Nelson outside some rooms.

There are only two main bugbears I had. One: there are no toiletries provided at all. As in, you only get a small very thin bar of soap. I did not know this before booking. So, not only did I have the pressure of showing off the best of the city I adore to relative newcomers, I turned up at the Shard, meeting the parents, with what was basically cheap Palmolive in my hair in a futile attempt to rid my tresses of dry shampoo and mousse from the night before. Not a way to make a great impression on any count. Fortunately I’d bought deodorant so that was something.

The second is the light on the telly. For convenience sake, it’s mounted on the wall opposite the bed. Handy. But the blue light literally lights up the whole room. I’m fine with the ambient glow of orange street lights. Even those harsh eco-friendly white lights don’t keep me up. But this blue light was very annoying. And as the TV was wall mounted, there was nothing I could use to cover it. So bring a small roll of electrical tape or find a way to unplug it.
After a brisk shower breakfast beckoned. If you book online it’s £6 for a buffet style service in the cafe. I rarely make it down for breakfast because I love my sleep, but seeing as champagne at midday was the plan I thought a lined stomach was a good idea. Breakfast is self-service. So there’s tea, coffee, yoghurt and honey, cereal, fruit, croissants and muffins, Nutella and jam on toast and the full English of course. It’s cheapy and cheerful, and if you’re cheeky you can take supplies back to the room to be eaten. For some reason I’d pay £6, but £7 on the day just seemed too much. Especially when it comes to just under £15 for to people to have breakfast. Saying that, a recent review that stated “The cafe staff were very patient when my husband set fire to a croissant in the toaster,” was hilarious.

All in all, I’d say it’s worth a one night stay, especially if you can get a £29 room rate. I mean, £29! It’s not somewhere you’d want to stay for a romantic night with your other half, or the kind of hotel you’d check your parents in to for their anniversary. But for a stop over in the city they’re as spacious as you’re going to get for that price, and with views over the Shard and the city, you could be looking at worse. Oh, and the beds are pretty awesome. And did I mention £29?

(Because it was a very short stay I stupidly forgot to take photos, so I’ve pinched these from tripadvisor)