Venue review – The Grange Tower Bridge Hotel, London

The Grange Tower Bridge Hotel is the latest addition to the London hotel chain’s portfolio and it opened its doors for the soft opening in the first week of June.  Situated five minutes’ walk from Tower Hill tube station it has some impressive views (from upper floors) across the river and of the nearby Tower of London and Tower Bridge.

Why did we go?

To experience the hotel and see how it feels compared to other hotels in the chain.

What did we do?

We stayed for one night in June about four days after it opened its doors.

Look and feel of hotel:

The ‘soft’ opening means that the accommodation and restaurant are open, with other facilities such as conference space and spa still being completed.  There was also quite a bit of landscaping to be completed outside so the initial impressions are of a building site!

The lobby has a very sparse, almost industrial look, which wouldn’t be to everyone’s taste and is quite different to a lot of hotels we have experienced.  It feels very spacious with lots of open space and high ceilings, but with stones floors and pillars, ‘cosy’ isn’t an adjective that would fit here.

Once up on the 7th floor, the feeling changes completely and this is the first time it really felt like a 5-star hotel, with deep carpets and immaculate decor.  Our room also felt very plush with floor-to-ceiling  windows, extremely thick curtains and excellent quality furnishings.  The bathroom was also great quality with separate shower and different light settings.

Amenities:

The bedroom had everything you would expect from this level of hotel, including robes and slippers, although we did only have one set.  The media connections are very good with a panel across the top of the desk containing different mains sockets for different countries and connections to all the media in the room (iPod etc) so very good for business travellers.  Interestingly the mini-bar was empty and it wasn’t clear if this was the usual situation or if it had never been filled.

It is worth mentioning that although the hotel pool and spa are not due to open until September, guests are able to use the facilities at the nearby Grange City Hotel for a charge of £10 per person.

Service:

This was the area where it was most obvious that this is a new hotel and they were certainly having their share of teething problems.  Upon arrival there were about six staff behind the check in desk and all seemed busy trying to sort out problems with new arrivals.  We had a bit of a wait but the actual check-in was very quick and efficient.

Breakfast the following morning was a bit of a shambles.  They have a huge restaurant but clearly not enough staff to service it properly, as there was not a single table that had been cleaned when we arrived, despite many tables being clear of guests.  We, along with a few other people, were therefore not able to be seated until the head waiter was able to track down a colleague to clear some tables.

Eventually we were offered a seat at a dirty table while we waited, which was not a good suggestion.  It would have been better to stand rather than stare at the previous diners’ debris.  However, once we did have a table, the food itself was very good with plenty of choice, although we did have to ask more than once for some tea.

Overall:

This has all the makings of a really good hotel for leisure or business, with a great location, especially for those who want to be close to central London as well as the City.  A lot of the staff appeared to be trainees and they will naturally have a learning curve, however if a hotel markets itself as 5-star it should be able to operate at this level from the outset.  Judging by some of the comments on TripAdvisor, we got off quite lightly!

It will be very interesting to return to the hotel once the conference space is open to see how things have changed and to experience the service levels once the staff and the systems have bedded in.

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