During my recent visit to London, I stayed at two different hotels, namely Royal Cambridge Hotel and Best Western The Delmere Hotel, both located in Sussex Gardens, London W2. The following is my review of Royal Cambridge Hotel. You may check my review on Best Western The Delmere Hotel here.
1. The Hotel
1a. The Location
Royal Cambridge Hotel occupies 2 Victorian townhouses that are located in Sussex Gardens in Paddington, a central area of London. Sussex Gardens boasts plenty of options for small and boutique hotels as well as B&B’s. The road is lined with trees and there are pedestrian walks on both sides of the road. The road can get busy at times but there’s nothing to worry about as you won’t hear much traffic when you’re in your room.
The location is ideal and perfect if you’re looking for a quiet area but still very close to everything that Central London has to offer.
1b. The Reception
I arrived at the hotel on the first day at around 10 a.m. and the room was not ready yet. Not that I expected it to be ready as I knew that the earliest check-in time at the hotel is actually 2 p.m. The lady at the reception was friendly and helpful, and ready with a map of London to explain how to get around London.
The reception area is simple & small and it set the expectation of the hotel and the rooms. I knew right away to set my expectation of the hotel to that of a Bed & Breakfast (or B&B as they are better known as in the UK) rather than a proper full fledged hotel.
The Reception Hall
The reception is opened 24 hours a day and you have to leave your key with the reception every time you go out. You may leave your luggage with the reception should you arrive early on the day of check-in or leaving London later in the day after you have checked out of the hotel.
1c. The Rooms
The hotel has just over 30 rooms and I had the opportunity to try one of its single rooms (Room 203) as well as a double room (Room 205). The rooms, in particular the double room, are rather small with not much space for walking around or much luggage. 1 large luggage or 2 medium sized luggage, and you most likely would run out of space.
Single Room (Room 203)
Single Room (Room 203)
Bathroom of the Single Room (Room 203) with Fixed Shower Head
Double Room (Room 205)
Double Room (Room 205)
(Right) Bathroom of the Double Room (Room 205) with Fixed Shower Head
In terms of furnishing, I prefer the single room (Room 203) to double room (room 205) as the former has a bit of classy look compared to a hostel room feeling in the latter (despite the double bed). Overall the rooms are furnished rather spartanly but adequate enough for a short stay in London. From previous experience of staying in London, this is typical of a B&B, so not much of a complaint here, just trying to set the expectation straight.
The rooms have tea/coffee making facility, a telephone and an LCD TV. A flip through the channels showed plenty of options although I gathered they are mostly terrestrial TV channels, e.g. BBCs and ITVs.
The beds are comfortable. Linens and towels are okay and you can ask the housekeeper to change them daily should you want to. The bathrooms, particularly in Room 205, appear to be a bit dated. The shower cubicles are also rather small. Definitely not suitable for large-sized hotel guests. Another setback is probably the fixed shower head. Hot water is available throughout the day. Toiletries are provided. They are pretty basic but sufficient.
The layout of the rooms on each floor ensures that there is minimal noise disturbance from other rooms (which is a common complaint for hotels in the UK and Europe in general due to thin walls). You may however still hear hotel guests talking in the corridor in front of the elevator or whenever they open and close the door to the staircase near to your room.
The hotel applies a non-smoking policy throughout its premises, by the way.
Breakfast is included in the room rate. It is served in a hall in the basement of the hotel. With about 10 tables, the hall has the capacity for roughly just over 30 hotel guests at any one time. Breakfast is served from 7 a.m. to 9.30 a.m. During my stay, it got quite busy with hotel guests from around 9 a.m. so go & have your breakfast earlier if you don’t want to have to wait for a seat.
The breakfast buffet spread is pretty basic. It consists of slices of breads (white & brown), butter and jams, cereals, baked beans, canned fruits, boiled eggs, fruit juice, tea & coffee. Cheese, meat cuts & sausages are available on alternate days. You may request the cook to prepare you different types of egg dishes, e.g. fried, scrambled, etc.
1e. Internet Access
The hotel offers password protected Wi-Fi access and charges its guests GBP5 for 24 hours of access. I think the charge is quite minimal at just over 20 pence per hour on average but I believe it would be better if the hotel could offer the service for free. I’m however not sure how the hotel management implements the control of Wi-Fi access as it appeared to me that once you have paid for the first 24-hour of access and get the password, you can still access the internet even after that. I found out about this when my mobile phone automatically got connected to the hotel’s Wi-Fi signal without any prompting. Internet speed was quite fast, by the way.
|Tips: If you don’t plan on paying for the Wi-Fi access at the hotel, and if you have a smart mobile phone, you can just buy a “3” pay-as-you-go SIM card either from “3” store or Carphone Warehouse (there is one on Praed Street towards Edgware Road). The SIM card would cost you GBP15 and gives you basically 1 month of unlimited data package for your access to internet.|
2. Where to Eat
There are plenty of options that should cater to all kinds of taste buds. Restaurants, delis, cafes and pubs offering fish & chips, Italian, Lebanese*, Indian, Malaysian*, etc. are all within 5 to 10 minutes walk from the hotel. Fast food options include Burger King, McDonald’s, KFC*, & Subway* apart from a few other local fast food joints. There is also quite a good “food court” within Paddington Station.
Cafes, Pubs, Restaurants & Groceries on London Street
Should you prefer to stock up on some snacks and drinks in your room, there’re a few groceries on London Street and Praed Street. There is also a Tesco Express about 10 minutes walk on Praed Street towards Edgware Road. Do note however that there is a notice of “Strictly No Cooking” in the rooms. I suspect they have had experience of guests cooking in the room.
Cafes, Pubs, Restaurants & Groceries on Praed Street
(* Halal options for Muslims. There are also more options on halal eateries in the nearby Bayswater area and on Edgware Road)
3. Getting Around
Being in Paddington area means Royal Cambridge Hotel is well located and connected with public and private transports. Paddington Station is just about 5 minutes walk away from the hotel. That means you’re just 5 minutes walk away from:
- British Railway
- London Underground (Bakerloo, District & Circle, Hammersmith & City lines)
- Heathrow Express (direct & express rail service between Heathrow Airport and London)
Alternatively you also have the following options to travel around London from the hotel:
- London Underground – Lancaster Gate Station (Central Line)
- London bus service (a few bus stops on Sussex Gardens & Praed Street)
- London Big Bus (there’s a stop near to Burger King on London Street)
If you prefer to walk however, you can easily walk along Sussex Gardens onto Edgware Road (also known as Arab Street) and then onto Marble Arch, which is located at one end of Oxford Street, one of the more famous shopping streets in London. That should take about 15 to 30 minutes depending on your pace.
Tips: If you are staying in London for a few days, get the Oyster Card to use to pay for your underground and bus rides. A day travel card for London Zones 1 & 2, which costs GBP7, is also handy to travel around Central London. If you’re staying in London for more than 4 days, get the weekly travel card instead. It would cost you just GBP29 for unlimited travels on the underground and bus.
4. How to Get to the Hotel
View Larger Map
From Paddington Station, take the exit to Praed Street. Look out for Burger King which is located at the junction where Praed Street and London Street meet. Walk along London Street until it crosses Sussex Gardens at which point you turn left. Royal Cambridge Hotel is located towards almost the end of the building block to your left.
5. Further Information
124-126 Sussex Gardens, London W2 1UB
+44 (0)207 873 0000
Check in 2 p.m. / Check out 11 a.m.
A Thank You & Disclosure Note
I would like to thank Jard of Ignorant Brat & the management of Suria Resorts & Hotel Malaysia for the arrangement to stay at Royal Cambridge Hotel. The stay was partially sponsored (one free night followed by discounted rates for subsequent nights) by the hotel management in Kuala Lumpur. The sponsorship however has in no way affected my review of the hotel.