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A high-tech hotel with a difference: hub by Premier Inn, London Tower Bridge

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hub by Premier Inn London Tower Bridge“hub by Premier Inn” (little h) is a group of new “high-tech” UK hotels that I discovered when researching my recent trip to London.  I selected this Tower Bridge hotel based on price, modern appearance and proximity to public transport – what makes it stand out, however, is the size of its rooms.

My budget for five-nights accommodation was AUD 1,000 which doesn’t go far in central London. I was traveling on my own so didn’t need much in the way of space or comfort, but I do tend to spend time in my room so wasn’t prepared to settle for anything dingy (or a bunk in a room surrounded by umpteen strangers). The vast number of available options makes choosing UK accommodation quite daunting, especially if you’re not familiar with the City.

Booking online, I chose the smallest room and cheapest rate with no cancellations and up-front payment. The five nights (Mon-Fri) cost a total of UKP 557, which is about AUD 895 / USD 680 at the time of writing. I struggled to find more “traditional” hotels in the area for less than an additional 50%, and there were plenty of tired-looking properties in that price range.

20161015-040The 112-room Tower Bridge hub hotel is well situated for London explorers, being just two minutes walk from the Monument and Tower Hill tube stations. I easily found my way there from Victoria Station on the underground. The hotel is a quick stroll from the Tower of London, and is near the financial / business district so the area is in generally good shape.

There are a selection of – mostly chain – restaurants, cafes & pubs within walking distance, and supermarkets close by for those essential provisions. The hotel doesn’t have a car park.

hub by Premier Inn London Tower BridgeThe advertised check-in time is 2pm, and “early birds” are cheekily reminded of this by the automated kiosks in the reception. I arrived an hour early with the hope of being able to check-in and my request was happily granted by a staff member.

The check-in process was very quick, with no credit card pre-auth required as I had paid upfront.

hub by Premier Inn London Tower BridgeThe hub hotels have two sizes of room, “standard” and “bigger”.

I knew that my “standard” room was going to be small, but was still surprised when I opened the door. It’s hard to get across in pictures how small the room is, but there’s a bed, a bathroom, a small wardrobe and the carpeted space you can see here. As you settle in, however, it becomes clear that the space has been used quite efficiently.

hub by Premier Inn London Tower BridgeThe bathroom was modern and clean with good pressure in the well-sized “monsoon” shower. The only toiletries provided were hand wash by the sink and a combo body / hair wash in the shower.

It’s worth re-emphasising the low-frills nature of the room – basically, it’s furniture only. Forget the mini bar, there’s not even a kettle or a glass to drink from. If you need cutlery, you’ll need to either take your own or buy some plastic ones from a supermarket.

Tea and coffee is freely available for guests from the hotel’s cafe so you won’t die of thirst.

hub by Premier Inn London Tower BridgeThe bed was firm but comfortable, although just a double in size (the “bigger” rooms include a king). The power points and ledges along the bed are the right size to hold most devices and the TV remote, and are a good example of how the minimal space is used effectively. A room this size could easily be infuriating.

If you’re really bored you can do some augmented reality stuff with the map on the wall through the hub phone app.

hub by Premier Inn London Tower BridgeA cute touch with the linen. My room was made up every day, although this neat package was only found when I first checked in. A complementary bottle of water was also in the room on the first night.

hub by Premier Inn London Tower BridgeAha, a chair! An essential for me in any hotel room, I hate having to sit on the bed. It wasn’t particularly comfortable, but was easy to move around and in keeping with the rest of the room.

The table at the base of the bed pulls out to make a “desk”, although it’s only about 30cm wide and not very practical, especially as you don’t have anywhere else other than the bathroom to drop your stuff. There’s a drawer and space to store your luggage under the bed.

The TV is of high quality with plenty of channels to choose from, and there’s a panel by the bed for you to connect your devices via HDMI and other standard inputs.

hub by Premier Inn London Tower BridgeThe complementary wireless Internet was fast, certainly not likely to draw complaints from traveling Australians.

In keeping with the “high-tech” theme, room controls are located on the bedhead for easy access when you’re in bed, and at arms reach pretty much any other time you’re in the room. This worked well, with my only issue being that the air conditioner seemed to like turning itself back on. The lowest light level lights up the bathroom as you would expect, but also the suitcase area under the bed so wasn’t suitable as a night light. I’m not a fan of sleeping in complete darkness, but I had to get used to that as there’s nowhere for natural light to get in.

Apparently the hub’s Android / iPhone app allows you to control all of these things from your phone but I couldn’t get it to work on my Nexus 6P, and I’m reasonably handy with such things. Given the closeness of the controls I really wasn’t bothered, but if you’re the kind of person who likes to order breakfast from your Apple Watch then you may have a challenge on your hands (literally).

hub by Premier Inn London Tower BridgeOpened in late 2015, the general appearance of the whole hotel is still clean and modern.  Access to the lifts and room sections are secured by the room cards.

hub by Premier Inn London Tower BridgeAll hotels need some kind of restaurant, and the hub has the neat and simple “ProvenDough Deli+Bar”, open from 6:30am weekdays / 7am weekends to 11pm. It serves a range of bakery items, soups, sandwiches and “one pot” dishes, as well as a selection of alcoholic beverages. If – like me – you’re in London on a foodie trip then you’ll probably give it a miss, but it would be handy for business travelers or perhaps in a jet lag related hunger emergency.

Hotel guests can order simple “breakfast boxes”, which include various combinations of sandwiches, cereal, fruit, juices, water and coffee. You can see the menu here.

hub by Premier Inn London Tower Bridge

hub by Premier Inn London Tower BridgeI wouldn’t hesitate to stay at the hub Tower Bridge again, and will certainly look to see if there is a hub close to wherever I’m staying when next in the UK. There are currently four London and one Edinburgh hotels in operation, with plans underway for at least ten more.

For a business trip of a night or two this would be an ideal hotel, although some might find it too basic – or claustrophobic – for a holiday stay. I had no issue staying here for five nights, which I’m guessing is longer-than-usual based on the reaction of the staff member when I checked in.The staff were all friendly and I didn’t encounter any service issues during my stay.

I wouldn’t suggest staying in one of the “standard” rooms with a partner for more than a night, and I certainly can’t imagine anyone staying here with children but I guess that’s not really what it’s designed for. For couples or those traveling on their own this is definitely a hotel to consider.

Highly recommended.

hub by Premier Inn Tower Bridge
28 Great Tower St
London, EC3R 5AT

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