Economy hotels are often the best place to stay in city centres. The ibis group has 1,700 hotels across 59 countries. Despite not being known as well as some other brands in the economy class hotel sector, it’s growing fast. There are three different ibis brands which make up the ibis family; ibis budget, ibis Styles and ibis. Over the weekend I went on a ‘brand safari’ to try out what each of the brands offer.
In the UK prices for an ibis Budget room start at £18 a night. There are twin rooms, double rooms and triple rooms available. The triple room is made up of a double bed and a bunk bed above it (we were reassured that the bunk bed could hold a lot of weight to help fend of any anxieties of letting a larger person sleep above you!) You can also take one pet per room if you don’t want to leave your furry family behind, which is a nice feature.
I stayed in a double room, with a reasonably-sized double bed and a flat screen TV (as is standard in all rooms). There is free unlimited Wi-Fi access in every area of the hotel so you won’t rack up the price that way, which is a big bonus.
The room was spacious enough and was spotlessly clean. There were also plenty of mirrors which gave the room a greater sense of size. My window overlooked the sightly East London Mosque and, in the near distance, you could see the Gherkin.
If I were to be picky I would say that in some ways the room was a little too ‘budget’. Understandably there wasn’t a wardrobe but there weren’t many places to hang your clothes either and, in lieu of an actual chair at the desk, there was simply a plastic stool.
Equally the shower wasn’t in an enclosed area and although there was frosted glass to protect your modesty, there was nowhere to hang your clothes or place your towel without having to come into full view.
Breakfast isn’t included in the price of the room and costs over £5 but it is an all-you-can-eat buffet and everyone seemed to enjoy it. Breakfast takes place in the common area where there is also a 24/7 snack area which is a great place to go if you get a little hungry during the evening.
The hotel is nicely located and the area is best summed up by the view from my window that I mentioned earlier: the East London Mosque and the distant Gherkin. Around the hotel itself there is a strong Bangladeshi community which gives it a different feel to the rest of London, but walk fifteen minutes down the road and you are in the financial heart of the city.
With rooms starting at £18 in some ibis Budget hotels it would be hard to grumble. In Whitechapel London it is obviously going to be dearer and if you book online prices start from £81. Ultimately this is the kind of room that you want to use to rest your head, and not one you would want to spend too much time in, whether you’re relaxing or working. But if you just need a place to stay then this gives you everything you need; nothing more, nothing less.
My second night was spent in an ibis Styles on Southwark Bridge Road. The Styles brand are non-standardized hotels with no two designs being alike. Essentially it provides the security and reliability of a franchised brand with the charm of an independent hotel. Founded in 2007, there are 233 ibis Styles hotels worldwide. Ten percent of the rooms are dedicated to families, with bedding provided for four, and every hotel has a kids corner.
My room was a double and was a considerable step up from the ibis Budget. Noticeably the colours of the room were vibrant and bright, but homely and not at all garish. The room had a flat screen TV with a respectable number of channels, and there were two comfy chairs beneath the table at the far end of the room.
The bed was suitably large and comfy, and through my window the Shard loomed tall. The toilet and shower were enclosed away and were nice and clean. Although gimmicky, I particularly enjoyed the shower head changing colour from blue to red depending upon the water temperature. The room also came equipped with a hairdryer and a kettle with a selection of coffees and teas for a hot drink, as well as unlimited Wi-Fi.
One of the great things about ibis Styles is that a lot is included in the price of your room. Not only is breakfast included, but so are hot drinks, newspapers and magazines. The breakfast itself, an all-you-can-eat continental, is served in the restaurant area which is suitably charming. The food was nice but if you really love a full English then there is the potential to upgrade for around £5.
The hotel is wonderfully located. Not far at all from the Southbank, you can get to many London landmarks on foot. I was able to walk to the Shard, Buckingham Palace, Tate Modern and, with a little energy boost, even Knightsbridge! Borough Market is located right next to the hotel as well which serves just about every kind of food you could desire.
All in all I thoroughly enjoyed my stay at the ibis Styles, in fact I would say it was my favourite hotel of the weekend. There was a real sense of character to the hotel, even the corridors were well decorated and characteristic. If you book online prices start from £111.40 and, bearing in mind what that covers, I would say it is a pretty good deal.
My final night was spent in ibis London Euston St. Pancras. ibis has nearly 1,000 hotels over 59 countries and puts a big emphasis on service. ibis hotel also boasts the ‘Sweet Bed’, a bed designed from start to finish by the hotel (which is a first for the economy sector). Ibis were able to roll out the Sweet Bed across more than 80% of its network in less than a year.
I, again, stayed in a double room which, again, had a flat screen TV perfectly situated opposite the bed. The bed provided me with the comfiest night sleep by far and, like the ibis Styles, the toilet and shower were enclosed away.
There was a kettle and a selection of teas and coffees waiting in the room, plus there was a desk by the window with a small chair, and also a nice bench against the wall. As with the others, there was unlimited Wi-Fi access. The room lacked the character of my ibis Styles room but it was a perfectly nice place to spend a few hours.
Breakfast is not included in the price but it is an all-you-can-eat full English breakfast, and I thought the food was really good (I certainly wasn’t shy of having seconds!) I also ate in the restaurant in the evening and I found the food and service there to be of a high standard. The restaurant area itself had a nice ambiance and was busy enough to provide a good communal atmosphere. It is also stylishly designed and, thankfully, located right next to the bar.
Like the others, the hotel is nicely situated so that a lot of London is within walking distance and, if you’re going afar, the tube station is no more than a five minute walk away. If you book online prices start from £114 which is quite reasonable given the location and the quality of the hotel.
Overall I thoroughly enjoyed my stay at all three of the ibis hotels and if you’re looking for a convenient but affordable hotel to stay in I would certainly recommend looking into the ibis family and finding the one right for you.