Hotel Russell
London, England
April 2009

While we were making last-minute hotel reservations for Lisbon and London – and car reservations for Portugal – in Ft. Lauderdale the morning of our departure, we were amazed to find the Hotel Russell in London for $129 a night (for 4 nights), including English breakfast buffet. It's a large, stately hotel, newly renovated – it said – on Russell Square where we had stayed years earlier, and for a higher price then. (I didn't think to take a photo while we were there – this one is from Wikipedia.)

We particularly like the Bloomsbury location, near the British Museum and many trendy restaurants on nearby streets, but also because it's on the Piccadilly tube line. Originating at Heathrow, it's a convenient and inexpensive way to get to the Russell Square station. The Piccadilly Line also has stations at Covent Garden, Leicester Square, and Piccadilly Circus (encompassing the theater district); Hyde Park (with its Sunday morning orators); Knightsbridge (Harrods) and South Kensington (the Victoria and Albert Museum).

When we arrived, we found a possible reason for the inexpensive price – the room we were shown hadn't yet been renovated and was quite small. Although it had a nice view of the square, the windows were dingy, and we could hear the operation of the ice machine across the hall. The second room didn't look any larger, but there seemed to be more room. That's when we realized the reason was that the bed was smaller! When we told them we had requested twin beds they said they were only available in the renovated rooms, for which we'd have to pay more.

I don't recall now what the additional cost was (reason later), but when they showed us the room it seemed reasonable. It was actually more of a suite – much more spacious, it included a sofa, a walk-in closet, a long desk, and the "twin beds" were Queen Size. While settling in we opened a door under one end of the desk and found a yawning space. Evidently even this room hadn't been completely renovated, because after we called the front desk they brought in a mini-fridge, taken from another, not yet occupied, room and installed it. They also rewired an inoperative light switch. This turned out be only the beginning of our communications with the front desk.

Of course, none of these problems were serious, and even the original room rate included a sumptuous breakfast buffet, which we had been looking forward to from memories of our previous visit. Spanning the entire end wall of the restaurant, it's what comes to mind when I hear the term "groaning board." It provides anything that anyone could desire in a breakfast, or brunch for that matter, including of course such British items as baked beans, gammon ham, bangers, kippers, fried bread, broiled tomatoes, mushrooms; and black pudding.

However, when we were checking out, we suggested to the manager that for our assistance in debugging the room – I didn't actually use that term, bugs being one problem we didn't encounter – he might reverse the extra room charge. He agreed.

Once again, the third room was the best one!

© Copyright 2009 Jack Ludwick - All Rights Reserved