You know you aren’t in a luxury hotel when you are greeted with a dirty entry way, sad close to sagging couches circling a scratched up coffee table, and the staff are only halfway happy to see you.
This was only the beginning of our stay at the Cromwell International Hotel at 139-141 Cromwell Road in London, United Kingdom.
It would have been fine for Super G and I to travel on the cheap, but other members of our party weren’t as thrilled. Especially since for two of our fellow travelers their room was on the fifth floor and the elevator only went to the fourth floor. They had to lug their own luggage up two flights of stairs after a very long flight.
The staircase was quite disconcerting. The carpeting was new-ish and in a 1980s midnight blue with colorful yellow and orange stripes in it, but the stripes hit the edge of the steps of the stairs causing depth perception issues. This made it difficult even for young travelers to second guess if they were stepping right or about to miss a step and fall. Since some of our fellow travelers were older and one of them was on the fifth floor, it was a concern that we all managed.
Just as disconcerting was our rickety elevator that was sensitive to weight and if the doors weren’t closed properly.
The next challenge was that only one key was allotted per room, which meant that either everyone who was staying in the same room had to stick together or be at a designated location on time so members of the party who wanted to return to the room could. There was no way around it. It proved to be a frustrating challenge for our group as some of us were staying together in a family size room.
Our rooms were average size, not spacious, but that’s to be expected in Europe. The hotel designer attempted to make them as cheerful as possible, but the furnishing style was out of date and tired. It was only made more evident by the natural lighting that shone through the large windows that cast a glaring light on everything that was wrong.
The bedding on our double beds were worn out with stains on the sheets and the throws, which were frayed on the edges, too. Even more gross or just as disgusting was that every day when we returned back to the hotel, someone else’s hair was on our bedspread. It gave me the heebie jeebies thinking about what was on the sheets as I checked to see if there were double sheets on the bed and any topper or at minimum a mattress pad between the bottom sheet and the mattress. None of the above, as I pulled the single bottom sheet out from the mattress sandwiched against the box spring. It was the bare minimum a bottom sheet, top sheet and the bed spread. The throw at the bottom of the bed was just for decoration. It wouldn’t protect anyone on a chilly night. I closed my eyes, gritted my teeth, and attempted not to allow my imagination to run away with me.
The beds were comfortable enough. They did the job allowing us to get some rest if we didn’t overthink what we were sleeping on. It definitely made me want to pack my own pillow cases and bedding the next time we decide to travel on a budget.
There was a desk, but the chair next to the desk wouldn’t quite qualify as a desk chair to work comfortably. It was stiff and didn’t roll. If I attempted to move it into position it would have been difficult squeezing between the foot of the bed and the desk. I was going to have to figure out a solution journaling my notes and thoughts about the sights and sounds of London and filing my stories at night.
However, there was a bright light built into the nightstand next to the bed and a decent amount of plugs in appropriate places in the room. That was the only room that had decent plugs with good wattage. The bathroom plugs couldn’t handle a hair dryer. It was clearly marked only for electric razors.
If we had chosen, we could have also hung our clothes in the wardrobe that came with the room, but trying to call downstairs for help was a challenge. The phone in the room was just simply a phone in a room. It didn’t have the usual buttons to call for housekeeping, the front desk, or any other services.
The room was also equipped with a flat screen 32-inch TV that allotted for local channels via an antennae or satellite dish, which was out our last night at the hotel. Wi-Fi in our room was extra and the free Wi-Fi in the lobby left much to be desired. We waited until the nearby Starbucks opened to get our breakfast and to hook up to the Internet.
I shouldn’t have expected the usual comforts that one comes to expect at a hotel after noting the issues with the bed, but I was yet again let down. We didn’t have enough towels for everyone staying in the room. There were no hand towels by the sink during our entire stay. The first day I thought it was an oversight of the housekeeping staff, but by the second day I simply realized there was never going to be a hand towel hanging from the hook by the sink. There also wasn’t going to be a towel or mat to put down on the tile for when we stepped outside of the shower. The shower mat for inside the tub was dirty to the point that I didn’t even want to touch it.
The ADA handle in the shower was useless. It was so loose it was a hazard. The shower door was only half of the shower and the shower head looked as if it was barely hanging onto the ceiling above me. There was no fan in the bathroom and there was very little room for four women to place their toiletries, not to mention there was no conditioner. Only shampoo, shower gel, and soap were provided.
Customer Service & Amenities
There was nothing extraordinary about customer service or housekeeping. Our room was given a quick spruce up daily. New towels and wash cloths were provided. That was it.
Everything came with a price tag at the Cromwell from breakfast to in-room Wi-Fi.
The front desk staff was friendly enough (as friendly as Eastern Europeans from the former Soviet bloc can be), but they weren’t quite helpful when a security issue arose.
Security In Question
Security was a big concern for us at the hotel. Our first concern about security came with noticing that there was no safe box in our room to store our valuables. We had to figure out where and how to hide important things in the room.
However, we all became concerned when one of our fellow travelers returned to her room to find it unlocked. She was sure she locked it, but thought perhaps she might have accidentally left without locking the door behind her or may be housekeeping forgot to lock it. That same day she suddenly couldn’t lock her door. We waited as staff fixed the door.
That was until I returned to our room later that afternoon to find it unlocked as well. I knew that we had locked it when we left. I immediately went downstairs to report it to the front desk. They didn’t seem to be too concerned. They said they would check the security camera, but they never said anything to us when they saw us and there was no message in our room. We will never know what happened.
Fortunately, in both incidents, none of us found anything out of place or missing.
What the International Hotel has going for it is location. It was close to a high-end shopping and dining as well as a bunch of pubs and casual restaurants. It was also very close to the tube at Glouchster Road Station, which provided quick access to the center of London and all of the sites London has to offer.
Overall, the Cromwell International Hotel is alright to stay at for budget travel, but not superb.
RATING: 1 = gold
(5 best – 0 worst: color code: 5 = midnight blue; 4 = black; 3 = Aqua; 2 = orange; 1 = gold; and 0 = green)
TYPE OF LODGING: Budget Hotel
CHECK OUT: $$ = $100 – $175
(Lowest price for a single night in a standard room during high-season)
SWEET DREAMS: It isn’t the worst budget hotel in the world, but it wasn’t a gem for the price either. Don’t expect anything special staying here.
VIBE: Traveling on the dime. There were a lot of young people and some families, but it wasn’t a party hotel.
SCENE: It was a place for young and family travelers alike to rest for a day or several days.
LOCATION: The location is what the Cromwell International Hotel has going for it. Centrally located in South Kensington only three blocks from the tube at Glouchster Road Station and three blocks from a swanky high-end restaurants to pubs and casual eateries.
ROOM: I survived the heebie jeebies of stained sheets, hair that wasn’t my own on the bed spread, and frayed shams as well as staying in close quarters with friends.
BATHROOM: Much left to be desired when it comes to safety and supplies.
AMENITIES: TV if you are lucky that satellite is working. In-room Wi-Fi is expensive and free but unreliable in the lobby.
WORTH THE SLEEP?: z = Not worth the overnight