The Guoman Tower Hotel – London

Overview:  A moderately priced hotel, best for short stays

Strengths:  View of the Tower Bridge, price

Drawbacks:  Location (relative to business locations), quality of rooms, quality of food offerings

A last minute business trip brought me to London for several days last December.  This was my first international trip with the new company, not wanting to run afoul of corporate travel policies, I left all of my booking details to my assistant.

While everything was set up fine (no lapses or errors), not paying close attention to the hotel selected turned out to be a bad move.  While I now know that we have over two dozen approved hotels in London, my accommodations were arranged at the Guoman Tower Hotel, which was the lowest price of the approved properties.  (In the future, I will stay at one of the other approved properties; several I am familiar with and are a fair bit more deluxe than the Tower Hotel.)

Coming from my office in the City via a taxi, I gave the driver the name of the hotel and the address.  The hotel is in such an odd location (buried next to the Tower Bridge) that the driver said he knew where it was, but wasn’t sure how to get me to the hotel’s front door.  He thought about it a bit, and said he’d figure it out when we got there.

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About ten minutes later, after a number of odd turns, we ended up on the alley going down to the hotel’s front entrance.  Arriving at about 7pm, there was no doorman visible (though I think he was probably tending to a matter inside, as there was a doorman all other times).  I found my way inside and to the reception desk.

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The formalities were completed with ease.  The desk clerk advised me that if I pre-paid for breakfast, it would be half the price at £10.  Not a bad price for a full buffet.  While I had business breakfasts lined up for several days (at much more deluxe hotels), one day I was going to be solo, so I elected to buy one voucher.  (The price of those other breakfasts – albeit with customers – was greater than my room rate at the Guoman!)

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I had confirmed, and was purportedly assigned, a non-smoking room.  When I got off the lift on my floor, there was a sign on the wall in the lift lobby which said I was on a non-smoking floor.  Unfortunately, most of the rooms, including the one to which I was assigned, had signs on their doors indicating in fact that smoking was permitted.  My room reeked of smoke.

I took a trip back to the front desk, re-queued, and I was assigned to a different floor which I was assured was non-smoking.  Unfortunately, this time I was told that the only non-smoking rooms left had twin beds.  Not my favorite, but it would have to do.

The room itself was clean, but small and well worn.  There were rips in the wallpaper, and the windows were cold and drafty.

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I at dinner one night in the lounge, which was fine.  The lounge overlooked the Tower Bridge.  Breakfast was acceptable, but not inspired.

While I brought all of my other running gear (shirt, socks, sneakers), I forgot my shorts or running pants!  Not wanting to be a complete sloth, I decided to take a run in my jeans one morning.  While certainly not ideal attire, the paths along the Thames were quite pleasant for running.  I made my run a short 2-1/4 mile run out and back.  Though I hope not to stay at this hotel again, I would try to include a run along the Thames (in running shorts) as part of a future visit.

The hotel did not have a points scheme.  The hotel describes itself as four-star.  I’m not quite sure what scale this is on, but three-star-minus would be a more appropriate classification on a typical five-star scale.

If you are (a) looking for a clean and safe place to stay in London for something around £125 or (b) a big fan of the Tower Bridge, this might be a place to consider.  Beyond that, however, I’d look elsewhere.

 

The Tower Hotel
St Katherine’s Way
London E1W 1LD
+44 845 305 8335
http://www.guoman.com/hotels/united_kingdom/london/the_tower/index.html

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