Hans D. Baumeister

Hans D. Baumeister

Britannia Study Hotel, Brighton, UK ***

Stayed: March 2017

The hotel is located on Western Road, about 900m from the train station on foot. The No. 6 bus will take you quite close. The location is ok if you have a room to the back, as Western Road is quite busy.

The room was spacious enough but simple, with a desk and a largish TV on it. There was also a closet with plenty of space and a safe (which I didn't use). On the wall behind the desk hung a corkboard - that was a first in the many years I stay in hotels!

The room had two small windows to the street on the rear (which was quiet) that could only be shut against street light by rolling down a roller blind. Works, but not very pretty.

There was free Wifi in the room with ok speed.

The bathroom was ok - it was clean but simple. I found the exhaust fan incredibly annoying - it sounded like a turboprop taking off. It turned on as soon as the bathroom light was on, so you weren't even spared a few minutes.

Breakfast wasn't spectacular, but it was ok (a few warm items) and sufficient.

All personnel were very friendly and helpful.

For the price (less than 50€) absolutely okay and I would stay here again, though if you're here for holidays, I would probably splurge for something more upscale.
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Thistle Kensington Gardens, London, UK **

As I came in from the city, I walked from Bayswater station to the hotel (which is only about 5 min.). I spotted the hotel sign right away, but all I saw was a construction site and a gas station wedged under a building… the entrance to the hotel is actually around the corner (not sure why the address is Bayswater Road, then) and you need to go up on the 1st floor for reception.

The girl at reception apparently had a long night, she seemed to fall asleep twice while getting me checked in. Very odd. The room was on the 5th floor and faced Kensington Gardens, which sounds nice but actually just means you get a lot of noise from Bayswater Road, as the trees across the street are so high you can't see anything of the park. There was a sliding window on the inside of the room and a regular window on the outside, but that didn't help much to keep road noise at bay. My guess is that the windows are both quite old, as it wasn't possible to sit comfortably at the desk due to cold air coming off the closed windows - I had to pull the drapes closed to stop the cold air.

The AC isn't the newest either - it was quite loud for being set on low fan, it didn't heat the room all that well and it smelled funny - probably needs a cleaning. Also, I turned it off at night because the noise was bothering me, but it just kept running. It actually shut down at some point, though that was at least 15 min. later.

The shower is also a bathtub, which will make getting in and out for some people a challenge. Also the narrow end of the bathtub is where the shower water hits, so you're forced to stand with your feet quite close together while getting wet. For me, that was uncomfortable, for anyone that has issues with balance, it isn't going to work well.

Other than that, the room - even though it was supposedly a "luxury" room was borderline too small. It was clean enough, and the bed was quite comfortable. There is a biggish TV (didn't use it) and free Wifi (with reasonable speed for emails, likely you won't be happy streaming video).

Breakfast was ok though there were no rolls or bread available. The only baked goods were toast, croissants and some type of cake. Full English breakfast was the main stay. Coffee is ok and get-it-yourself from a machine.

I've no idea what the average hotel runs for in London these days, but for the amount I paid for the night, I could have gotten a 5-Star top-of-the-line hotel in Berlin with a huge room and a fitness center. Had the rate been lower, I would have given three stars.
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Holiday Inn Maidenhead**

Why the ceiling of the elevator hung down when I arrived on a Sunday night is beyond me. I decided to take the stairs despite the heavy suitcase.

However, the room had a few quirks that really annoyed, but could be fixed pretty easily: 
The shower fixture had a thermostatic control on it - usually that is a great thing to have. Unfortunately, it seemed broken, as the shower temperature flicked from cold to scalding hot several times while showering.

Also, it is not possible to have a reading light on at the bed with the other room lights off. The switch for the room lights kills the reading light as well, even though it has a separate switch - classical wiring error, probably fixable in 10 minutes.

Lastly, the room has an (empty) fridge in it - why there isn't a minibar is beyond me. The thing makes a loud sound when turning on and hums quite loudly - I woke up from it at least once. It would be great to be able to turn it off (besides that saving energy as well), but that isn't possible.

Other than that, the hotel - while hardly attractive from the outside - is ok. Breakfast is quite good, with hot and cold foods and fresh fruit available.
The sleep quality is good with different pillows available (hard and soft). There is an ironing board in the closet. Closet space is adequate.

There is a large car park, however on one of the evenings I was there it was completely overfilled due to some homeowners convention going on.

The hotel is close to our offices in Maidenhead, so quite convenient for us.
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Hilton Terminal 5, Slough, UK ****

Stayed: February 2014

The name alone will make you believe this hotel sits right on Heathrow Airport property, possibly right next to Terminal 5. This isn’t the case; it’s situated outside of Airport property in Slough. Even though it isn’t very far away from the airport, going there takes surprisingly long, as the route is all twists and turns (about 15 minutes). There is a shuttle available, the ride costs money, though; the last time I took it, it was 10 pounds per person (one way!).

To be sure, the hotel is very comfortable. The room was large enough and modern, with exception of the bathroom (see below). Despite planes flying quite low over the hotel (depending on the wind direction), the noise was never a problem. The room also features an interesting brew-your-own coffee system: you unfold a little filter with coffee grinds in it in your cup and pour boiling water from the electric kettle over it. The process is actually quite fun and the result absolutely drinkable.

The bathroom was surprisingly poor: for one thing, the shower is also a bathtub - which is fine. Unfortunately, the tub isn’t sunk into the floor at all, so you’re stepping over a good 60cm of tub to get inside. Easier on the way in than on the way out. I would think that anyone not very flexible would have serious issues here.
The second annoyance is the sink. The sink itself is pretty small and covered by a good 10cm by a construction that also holds the mirror (as well as some unnecessary ambient lighting). Add to this the faucet, which is tiny and set so far back as to let the water barely hit the side of the sink:

20140205_Hilton

You may see this in a tiny bathroom, where there just isn’t room to mount anything larger. Here, it is completely unnecessary and extremely annoying. Washing your hands becomes a real challenge; give up on the idea that you’ll be washing your face in this sink!

There are several restaurants in the hotel, of which I frequented two: the
River Bar, which tries to be a bar and a pub, and Mr. Todiwala’s Kitchen, which features Indian cuisine.

I had a hamburger at the bar one night, with some beer to go with it. The quality of the food was fine, though the pricing is quite high, even for a hotel bar. I decided to leave quickly when they cranked all TV’s in the bar up loud to show a soccer game; for some reason, the sound wasn’t synchronized between all the TVs, which caused a very loud, train station effect which was excessively annoying.

I’d also had the chance to eat in the Indian restaurant with a couple of colleagues, one of whom is Indian with parents that run an Indian restaurant in the UK. While the food was very good, it was completely unusual for Indian cuisine: for one thing, they served some dishes with beef (usually a no-no!), for another they didn’t offer many of the standard dishes you would expect to see on the menu.

The menu was one of the most unusual I’ve ever seen in any restaurant: each dish had several paragraphs of text describing a situation or event the dish had been involved in at some point in human history. Figuring out what the dish really was turned out to be a challenge, especially because the print is so small, I had issues reading the menu in the subdued lighting at all. Very strange indeed.

On the subject of restaurants, breakfast needs to be mentioned as well. This takes place on the Mezzanine level, which is used by one of the other restaurants as “outside seating” in the evening. My room was booked with breakfast included, so I have no idea wether breakfast is usually charged separately or what it costs. It is, however, spectacular. The variety of dishes and foods is enormous, with everything you might be looking for in a Continental and English breakfast. Lots of different types of fresh fruit and a large selection of warm dishes. Perfect.

The hotel sits in a pretty nondescript area, which means there are very few restaurants or pubs in walking distance. Unfortunately, walking from the hotel is somewhat hindered by horrible walkway conditions as well the complete lack of pedestrian walkways in some sections starting at the exit from the hotel lot. There seems to be a problem with taking responsibility between the hotel and the city of Slough which ends up being a nuisance to any hotel guest looking to be on foot.

All in all, the hotel is quite comfortable and I can recommend it. If you have a park-and-fly deal, beware of the fact that the shuttle is a chargable item and that you’ll need to drive someplace to eat out the night before flying, unless you mind the elevated cost of the hotel restaurants.
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Arora Park Hotel Slough ***

The hotel is very near to Heathrow airport and extremely close to BancTec’s UK headquarters (just around the corner).

The area around the hotel is mostly apartment buildings and some industry. There is a pub with Thai food across the road and an Italian restaurant down the road. I’ve eaten twice at the pub - the food is quite good, though the term “haute cuisine” comes to mind when looking at the size of the portions.

Being so close to the airport, the overhead traffic is ridiculous, the nearer runway brings 747s and A380s thundering an estimated 200 meters right over the street. Despite this, the noise level in the room (my room was towards the road) is extremely abated, thanks to double windows. Unfortunately, the windows can’t be opened because of this, but during the airport’s operating hours, this isn’t to be recommended anyway.

The room was clean and quite spacious, with a handy clothes iron in a flat cabinet against one wall. As with many hotels, the availability of electrical outlets is a negative point. While there are outlets on the floor under the small desk (get on all fours, please), there are none at all on either side of the bed.

The bathroom is ok, the bathtub has a shower curtain (which I can’t stand), though to be fair, it was quite clean and not as clingy as some I’ve encountered.

Breakfast is pretty much a joke measured by continental Europe standards, but may be standard in the UK at this time. It is labelled “continental breakfast” which consists of bread (a toaster is supplied - but only one), some packaged cereals, some (fat-free) yoghurt, fruit and little packets of jam to spread on the bread. Some prepackaged muffins and croissant are also available, as well as (very strong) coffee. We were the only guests in the “restaurant”.
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