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‘Budget boutique’ arrives in the City

Motel One

Sydney Paulden tries out Motel One London-Tower Hill

I stayed overnight at Motel One London-Tower Hill because I was intrigued and had to discover exactly what it is. This property opened in December 2014 in a location that basically marks the very centre of the City of London. From my room on the 12th of 15 floors I could almost reach out and touch the Gherkin, the City’s iconic building until the opening of The Shard, which I could see from another of my three windows.

Tower Hill for the underground and Fenchurch Street for national rail were alongside. Had a motel really managed to set up here?

The answer to that question, I discovered in a highly informative chat with Shriya Patel, is ‘No’. Shriya, formerly with Millennium Hotels in London, is the Sales Manager at the new Motel One and she was able to give me the salient details of its background.

This new property, which she termed ‘budget boutique’, is the latest of 47 Motel One hotels owned by a German family called Müller. If it’s not a motel, where does its name come from? Well, it appears, the first 10 properties launched by Herr Müller about 14 years ago in Germany were indeed motels. Then as he developed his unique formula and style, the new launches were not motels and so he has now sold off those original 10 – but kept the name.

The majority of Motel One properties, in fact 37, are in Germany, but there are two in Edinburgh, others in Prague and Brussels and an additional one to open in Manchester in June 2015. They are all very similar in design. The categories of bedrooms are of identical format in each case, but the lounge/bar/dining /lobby is a multi-functional area that always adopts something of the locality.

Each property publishes its rates for the coming year and they do not change and are not negotiable. What I did discover is that Motel One is not designed for conferences. At most, the managements could be helpful in arranging for a small group to gather in the lounge. But, for an organiser doing a recce in the area or to add a short incentive break with very low cost but with maximum convenience, Motel One can be an option.

In the 290-room London Tower-Hill property, double occupancy with a truly memorable City view costs £133. Single occupancy in a single room is £98. There are supplements, shown in advance, relating to specific dates when there are major events taking place, such as Wimbledon or Ascot.

The beds are large and comfortable; the en suite monsoon shower areas are spacious. Herr Müller has kept prices down by a close study of what is really required by a modern traveller. Why for example go to the expense of installing a complex, expensive telephone system when all the guests carry their own mobiles? So there are no phones in the rooms.

However, Wi-Fi access is very simple and free of charge and there are in-room coffee and tea facilities, as well as a work desk. The Loewe flat-screen TV has an alarm facility. And the lounge bar is open 24 hours.

Good quality is very much an objective. There are highly effective bedside reading lights; a Chroma hair dryer; 100% Egyptian cotton bedding; luxurious soft hand and bath towels.

The hotel’s own bakery produces the bread and croissants for breakfast. No wonder that corporate guests actually account for 90% of the clientele at Tower Hill. When I was there, they all had finished breakfast in the lounge by 9am, when the remaining 10%, the tourists, came down to eat!

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